Wowee! is my reaction. The Audit Commission is to be abolished.
This is a bigee, as they say. The Audit Commission, the bain of many a local Council, is a £200 million a year organisation. Eric Pickles, you’re doing what was needed but is generally put in the ‘too hard to do’ category. The Commission has grown and grown, and is now hugely costly. It’s right to scrap it.
The Audit Commission probably doesn’t come onto most people’s radar. But it does local councils. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll explain just one reason why this is a great move by Eric.
A while back at one of the scrutiny meetings I attended, we had representatives from our financial auditors – KPMG – and the Audit Commission. They’d both presented reports on the Council, and so I quizzed ’em a bit. I’m a curious soul.
I’m also on our Performance Indicator Working Group, where we look at the how the council is performing on a large number of key things, which the council monitors rigorously.
So, I asked the Audit Commission chap what proportion of our performance statistics that they used to compile their report. He said around 40%. So, you have it. We pay our taxes to have well-paid people come along and tell us what we already know, only they do it in a very superior manner.
Now, I’m sure that Eric Pickles department will take ‘in-house’ some of the things that the Audit Commission does. But, he’s right to rely on ‘armchair auditors’. It’ll strengthen the role of councillors, to know that it’s down to us to understand what’s going on, and to be able to respond to residents.