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Better financial reporting by public bodies – Audit Commission

Local public bodies have improved their financial reporting, a new report from the Audit Commission indicates.

Councils, fire and rescue authorities and other local government bodies have demonstrated their financial accountability through the quality and timeliness of their reports.

Of the 472 English principal bodies, 426 published their audited 2011/12 accounts by the deadline of 30 September. The Audit Commission suggested that this reflects well on their financial management arrangements and is indicative of good governance.

11 authorities were highlighted for reporting swiftly after the end of the financial year, with the earliest being Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, which published its accounts on 25 June.

Parish councils have also improved. Of the 14 most heavily criticised last year for failing to publish their audited accounts, 11 are now taking positive steps to address the concerns.

The Commission’s Controller of Audit, Marcine Waterman, said: “This improvement is quite an achievement given the continuing financial pressures on local public bodies.

“This annual audit process also gives essential assurance to the relevant government departments that funds distributed to local public bodies have been safeguarded and accounted for properly.

“The Draft Local Audit Bill currently makes no provision for the collection, collation and reporting of the results of the audit process as a national whole. Government should consider how it will gather and publish this information in future.”

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