The commission itself is being scrapped – a mere three years later than originally intended – in favour of the big, bad, idea that councils and other public bodies should appoint their own auditors. This, as the Institute for Government noted in its recent study Dying to Improve, overturns a long standing principle that really ought to be preserved – that the audit of the public money, and of how effectively it is being spent, should be as independent as possible. The commission did that, and for the next year it still will. It appoints the auditor to local authorities and to almost 11,000 other public bodies in England, including the police, fire, significant chunks of the NHS. It stands behind the auditors, statutorily and financially, if they get into dispute with a council or another body over the way they have spent public money, and it stands behind the council if any auditor is trying improperly to rack up their fees. But while the commission is disappearing (just weeks before the May 2015 election in a piece of timing that seems deliberately designed to prevent an incoming government having easy second thoughts) its existing contracts for the audit of […]

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