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Local Authority Audits

Volume 888: debated on Friday 21 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment which of the following local authorities below were subject to district audit for the year 1972–73; of these that were if he will detail, respectively, the dates upon which the district auditor held public hearings upon the audit, and if any ratepayers made objections to the housing account; and upon what date the audit was completed: Camden LB, Barrow CB, Blackburn CB, Carlisle CB, Doncaster CB, Salford CB, South Shields CB, Walsall CB, Eccles BC, Mansfield BC, Bedworth UDC, and Conisborough UDC.

Of the authorities listed, all the accounts of Camden LBC, Bedworth UDC, and Conisbrough UDC were subject to audit by the district auditor. Only certain accounts of the other authorities were so subject, and these included the housing accounts. The audits which have been completed and the dates of completion are:

  • Carlisle CBC 4th March, 1974.
  • Salford CBC 15th October, 1974.
  • South Shields CBC 15th March 1974.
  • Walsall CBC 4th June, 1974.
  • Bedworth UDC 19th June 1974.
It appears from the auditor's publicly available reports that there were no objections by local government electors at any of these audits and that it was not necessary to hold public hearings.As I informed the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) in my reply on 17th March—[Vol. 888, c. 297.]—district auditors do not report to me on the consideration of issues arising in the performance of their statutory duties.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment which of the following authorities were subject to district audit for 1973–74; whether these audits are now complete; if not, whether hearings have been held; if so, when; if not, for what dates they have been arranged; and if any ratepayers have objected to the housing accounts; for which of the authorities housing subsidies have been finalised; and what date he expects the remainder to be finalised: Hackney LB, Islington LB, Birmingham CB, Bootle CB, Bradford CB, Doncaster CB, Leeds CB, Lincoln CB, Oldham CB, Stockport CB, Wakefield CB, Bromsgrove UDC, Carnforth UDC, Dartmouth UDC, Sowerby Bridge UDC, Washington UDC, Billesdon RDC, and Sedgefield RDC.

Of the authorities listed, all the accounts of Hackney LBC, Islington LBC, Bromsgrove UDC, Carnforth UDC, Sowerby Bridge UDC, Washington UDC, Billesdon RDC and Sedge-field RDC were subject to district audit. Only certain accounts of the other authorities—including the housing accounts—were subject to audit by district auditors. The audits of Dartmouth BC and Sedgefield RDC have been completed. It appears from the auditors' publicly available reports that it was not necessary to hold public hearings in these two cases.I have no information about public hearings held in cases where audits are not yet completed.Housing subsidies have not been finally settled in any of the cases listed, except Sedgefield RDC. I am unable to forecast the dates for making final settlements.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the progress of audits for local authorities for the financial year 1973–74 in view of the fact that district auditors aim to complete the audits nine months after the end of the financial year; how many audits remain uncompleted; and if hearings have either been held or have been arranged for all authorities subject to district audit ; for what proportion of authorities have audits been completed ; and if any surcharges have been imposed by district auditors.

I understand that some 1,150 audits of the 1973–74 accounts are not yet completed. This represents just under half of the total number of local and miscellaneous authorities, excluding parish authorities, in England and Wales whose accounts were wholly or partly subject to audit by district auditors. The progress of audits has, 1 am informed, been seriously affected by local government reorganisation.I understand that no surcharges have so far been made in the course of the audits.I have no information about hearings where the audits are still in progress.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if the delay in completing audits for the 70 or so local authorities for the financial year 1972–73 is caused solely by the factors described in his answer to the Question from the hon. Member for Southend, West on Monday 17th March; and if he will specify any other reasons that there were.