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LOCAL AUDIT AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT 2014

UK Public General Acts

Version 02/04/2015

2014 CHAPTER 2

Default Geographical Extent: E+W+S+N.I.


  • Part 1 (E+W). Abolition of existing audit regime
  • Part 2 (E+W). Basic concepts and requirements
  • Part 3 (E+W). Appointment etc of local auditors
  • Part 4 (E+W). Eligibility and regulation of local auditors
  • Part 5 (E+W). Conduct of local audit
    • Codes of practice and guidance (E+W)
    • General powers and duties of auditors (E+W)
    • Reports and recommendations (E+W)
    • Public inspection etc and action by auditor (E+W)
    • Prevention of unlawful expenditure etc (E+W)
    • Accounts and audit regulations (E+W)
  • Part 6 (E+W). Data matching
  • Part 7. Miscellaneous and supplementary
    • Miscellaneous (E+W)
    • Supplementary
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  • Version as enacted

Introductory Text

Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014

2014 CHAPTER 2

An Act to make provision for and in connection with the abolition of the Audit Commission for Local Authorities and the National Health Service in England; to make provision about the accounts of local and certain other public authorities and the auditing of those accounts; to make provision about the appointment, functions and regulation of local auditors; to make provision about data matching; to make provision about examinations by the Comptroller and Auditor General relating to English local and other public authorities; to make provision about the publication of information by smaller authorities; to make provision about compliance with codes of practice on local authority publicity; to make provision about access to meetings and documents of local government bodies; to make provision about council tax referendums; to make provision about polls consequent on parish meetings; and for connected purposes.

[30th January 2014]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Annotations:

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C1 Act applied (10.2.2015) by The Local Audit (Appointing Person) Regulations 2015 (S.I. 2015/192), Sch. Pts. 1, 2 (with reg. 1(2))


Part 1 (E+W)
Abolition of existing audit regime



1 Abolition of existing audit regime (E+W)

(1) The Audit Commission ceases to exist.

(2) The Audit Commission Act 1998 is repealed.

(3) Schedule 1 (abolition of Audit Commission: supplementary provision) has effect.

(4) In that Schedule—

(a) Part 1 makes some arrangements in connection with the abolition of the Audit Commission, and
(b) Part 2 contains consequential repeals and revocations of Acts and instruments that amend the Audit Commission Act 1998.
(5) In this section and that Schedule “the Audit Commission” means the Audit Commission for Local Authorities and the National Health Service in England.

Annotations:

Commencement Information

I1 S. 1 in force at 1.4.2015 by S.I. 2015/841, art. 3(a) (with arts. 5-8, Sch.) (as amended (27.6.2016) by S.I. 2016/675, art. 2)


Part 2 (E+W)
Basic concepts and requirements



2 Relevant authorities (E+W)

(1) In this Act “relevant authority” means a person or body listed in Schedule 2.

(2) The application of this Act to a relevant authority is subject to any note forming part of the entry for that authority in Schedule 2.

(3) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend Schedule 2 by adding, modifying or removing an entry relating to a relevant authority.

(4) Regulations under subsection (3) may add an entry relating to a person or body to Schedule 2 only if that person or body exercises functions of a public nature in relation to an area which is—

(a) wholly in England, or
(b) partly in England and partly in Wales.
(5) The Secretary of State may by regulations or order make provision about the application of this Act or provision made under it to a person or body that comes to fall within Schedule 2 (whether or not as a result of regulations under subsection (3) ).

(6) The power in subsection (5) includes power—

(a) to amend this Act or provision made under it in its application to that person or body, or
(b) to make provision for this Act or provision made under it to apply to that person or body with modifications.
Annotations:

Commencement Information

I2 S. 2 in force at 1.4.2015 in so far as not already in force by S.I. 2015/841, art. 3(b) (with Sch. para. 1) (as amended (27.6.2016) by S.I. 2016/675, art. 2)

I3 S. 2(1)(2) in force at 9.4.2014 for specified purposes by S.I. 2014/940, art. 2(a)

I4 S. 2(1)(2) in force at 16.12.2014 for specified purposes by S.I. 2014/3319, art. 2(a)

I5 S. 2(3)-(6) in force at 16.12.2014 for specified purposes by S.I. 2014/3319, art. 2(b)


3 General requirements for accounts (E+W)

(1) A relevant authority, other than a health service body, must keep adequate accounting records.

(2) “Adequate accounting records” means records that are sufficient—

(a) to show and explain the relevant authority's transactions,
(b) to disclose at any time, with reasonable accuracy, the financial position of the authority at that time, and
(c) to enable the authority to ensure that any statements of accounts required to be prepared by the authority comply with the requirements imposed by or under this Act.
(3) A relevant authority, other than a health service body, must prepare a statement of accounts in respect of each financial year.

(4) In this Act “financial year” means a period of 12 months ending with 31 March.

(5) The Secretary of State may by regulations—

(a) make provision for the financial year of a relevant authority, other than a health service body, for the purposes of this Act to be such period as is specified in the regulations;
(b) make provision for any requirement in this section not to apply, or to apply with modifications, in relation to the relevant authorities, other than health service bodies, specified or described in the regulations.
(6) Regulations under subsection (5) (a) may—

(a) amend this Act or provision made under it in its application to a relevant authority to which the regulations apply, or
(b) provide for this Act or provision made under it to apply in relation to such a relevant authority with modifications.
(7) Regulations under subsection (5) (a) may make provision in relation to—

(a) all relevant authorities (other than health service bodies) ;
(b) the relevant authorities specified or described in the regulations.
(8) Section 32 enables the Secretary of State by regulations to make further provision about accounting records and statements of accounts.

(9) In this Act “health service body” means—

(a) a clinical commissioning group;
(b) special trustees appointed as mentioned in section 212(1) of the National Health Service Act 2006 (special trustees for a university hospital or teaching hospital) for a hospital in England (referred to in this Act as “special trustees for a hospital”).
Annotations:

Commencement Information

I6 S. 3(5)-(7) in force at 9.4.2014 for specified purposes by S.I. 2014/940, art. 2(b)

I7 S. 3 in force at 1.4.2015 in so far as not already in force by S.I. 2015/841, art. 3(c) (with Sch. para. 1) (as amended (27.6.2016) by S.I. 2016/675, art. 2)


4 General requirements for audit (E+W)

(1) The accounts of a relevant authority for a financial year must be audited—

(a) in accordance with this Act and provision made under it, and
(b) by an auditor (a “local auditor”) appointed in accordance with this Act or provision made under it.
(2) In this Act, references to accounts are to be construed in accordance with the following subsections.

(3) In relation to a relevant authority which is not a health service body, “accounts” means—

(a) the authority's accounting records, and
(b) the authority's statement of accounts.
(4) In relation to a clinical commissioning group, “accounts” means—

(a) the annual accounts of the group prepared under paragraph 17(2) of Schedule 1A to the National Health Service Act 2006 (accounts and audit of clinical commissioning groups) ;
(b) any accounts of the group prepared under paragraph 17(3) of that Schedule in respect of which a direction has been given under paragraph 17(5) of that Schedule.
(5) In relation to special trustees for a hospital, “accounts” means the annual accounts of the trustees prepared under paragraph 3 of Schedule 15 to the National Health Service Act 2006.

Annotations:

Commencement Information

I8 S. 4(1)(b) in force at 16.12.2014 for specified purposes by S.I. 2014/3319, art. 2(c)

I9 S. 4 in force at 1.4.2015 in so far as not already in force by S.I. 2015/841, art. 3(d) (with Sch. paras. 1, 2) (as amended (27.6.2016) by S.I. 2016/675, art. 2)


5 Modification of Act in relation to smaller authorities (E+W)

(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about the audit of the accounts of smaller authorities.

(2) Regulations under subsection (1) may, in particular, provide for any provision of or made under this Act not to apply, or to apply with modifications, in relation to smaller authorities.

(3) Subsection (2) applies to a provision of or made under this Act even if it makes specific provision about a smaller authority to which the regulations apply.

(4) Regulations under subsection (1) may, in particular—

(a) provide for the appointment, by a person specified by the Secretary of State, of a local auditor in relation to the audit of the accounts of a smaller authority;
(b) make provision about the persons that may be specified by the Secretary of State;
(c) make provision about the procedure for specifying a person and for a person's specification to come to an end in specified circumstances;
(d) make provision about the consequences of a person's specification coming to an end, including for the exercise of functions by the Secretary of State and the transfer of the person's rights and liabilities arising by virtue of the regulations to the Secretary of State or another specified person;
(e) confer functions on a specified person, including in relation to—
(i) the appointment of local auditors under the regulations,
(ii) the activities of such auditors, and
(iii) the resignation or removal from office of such auditors;
(f) require a specified person to consult such persons as are specified in the regulations before exercising specified functions;
(g) make provision for the appointment of a local auditor in relation to the accounts of a smaller authority to which arrangements within paragraph (a) apply where the specified person does not make an appointment under the regulations (and in particular for such an appointment to be made by the authority or the Secretary of State).
(5) Regulations under subsection (1) may, in particular—

(a) make provision about the smaller authorities to which arrangements within subsection (4) (a) apply, including provision for them to apply to an authority that has opted into them or has not opted out of them;
(b) make provision about the procedures to be followed in relation to opting into or out of those arrangements;
(c) impose duties on smaller authorities to which those arrangements apply, including duties as to—
(i) the payment of fees to a specified person, and
(ii) the provision of information to a specified person;
(d) make provision for the making of payments, in specified circumstances and by the smaller authorities to which those arrangements apply, to a fund of a specified kind for the purposes of meeting local auditors' costs of a specified kind.
(6) Provision made by regulations under subsection (1) by virtue of subsection (5) (c) (i) may, in particular—

(a) provide for fees to be paid in accordance with a scale or scales of fees determined by a specified person, and
(b) provide for the payment in specified circumstances of a larger or smaller fee than is set out in the appropriate scale.
(7) Regulations under subsection (1) may, in particular—

(a) make provision about the eligibility of a person to be appointed as a local auditor of the accounts of a smaller authority;
(b) make provision about the functions of a local auditor in relation to the accounts of a smaller authority.
(8) Regulations under subsection (1) may, in particular—

(a) provide that, in specified circumstances, the accounts of a smaller authority of a specified description are to be exempt from specified audit requirements;
(b) make provision for an exemption under paragraph (a) not to apply or to cease to apply to an authority in specified circumstances.
(9) In this section “specified” (except in the expressions “person specified by the Secretary of State” and “specified person”) means specified in regulations under subsection (1).

Annotations:

Commencement Information

I10 S. 5 in force at 18.6.2014 for specified purposes by S.I. 2014/1596, art. 2(a)

I11 S. 5 in force at 16.12.2014 in so far as not already in force by S.I. 2014/3319, art. 2(d)


6 Meaning of “smaller authority” (E+W)

(1) For the purposes of section 5, a relevant authority is a “smaller authority” for a financial year if—

(a) where that year is the year in which the authority was established, the qualifying condition is met for that year,
(b) where that year is the year following that in which the authority was established, the qualifying condition is met for that year or the previous year, and
(c) where that year is the second or any subsequent year following that in which the authority was established, the qualifying condition is met for that year or either of the two previous years.
(2) The qualifying condition is met for a relevant authority and a financial year if the higher of the authority's gross income for the year and its gross expenditure for the year does not exceed £6.5 million.

(3) For the purpose of determining, at a time when a relevant authority's gross income or expenditure for a financial year cannot be accurately determined, whether subsection (2) applies or will apply to the authority, that subsection is to be read as referring to the authority's estimated gross income or expenditure (as the case may be).

(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about the application of this Act (including in its application by virtue of section 5) or any provision made under it in a case where—

(a) an authority is treated as a smaller authority for a financial year, and
(b) the authority was not in fact a smaller authority for that year.
(5) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section.

Annotations:

Commencement Information

I12 S. 6 in force at 18.6.2014 for specified purposes by S.I. 2014/1596, art. 2(a)

I13 S. 6 in force at 1.4.2015 in so far as not already in force by S.I. 2015/841, art. 3(e) (with Sch. para. 1) (as amended (27.6.2016) by S.I. 2016/675, art. 2)


Part 3 (E+W)
Appointment etc of local auditors



7 Appointment of local auditor (E+W)

(1) A relevant authority must appoint a local auditor to audit its accounts for a financial year not later than 31 December in the preceding financial year.

(2) A relevant authority may appoint a local auditor to audit its accounts for more than one financial year; and in such a case—

(a) subsection (1) does not apply in relation to the second or any subsequent year for which the appointment is made, but
(b) the authority must make a further appointment of a local auditor at least once every 5 years.
(3) Subsection (2) (b) does not prevent the relevant authority from re-appointing a local auditor.

(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend subsection (2) (b) so as to alter the period for the time being specified in it.

(5) A local auditor appointed under this section—

(a) must be eligible for appointment as a local auditor (see Part 4) , and
(b) must not be prohibited from acting as a local auditor of the accounts of the relevant authority by virtue of section 1214 of the Companies Act 2006 (independence requirement) as it has effect by virtue of Schedule 5.
(6) Two or more local auditors may be appointed to audit the accounts of a relevant authority, and those auditors may be appointed—

(a) to act jointly in relation to some or all parts of the accounts;
(b) to act separately in relation to different parts of the accounts;
(c) to carry out different functions in relation to the audit.
(7) If, as a result of an appointment under subsection (6) (b) or (c) , a function under this Act may be exercised by two or more local auditors—

(a) it may be exercised by both or all of them acting jointly or by such one or more of them as they may determine, and
(b) references (however expressed) to the local auditor by whom the function is or has been exercised are to the auditors by whom it is or has been exercised.
(8) Schedule 3 makes further provision about the appointment of local auditors; and this section is subject to that Schedule and provision made under it.

Annotations:

Commencement Information

I14 S. 7(8) in force at 4.4.2014 for specified purposes by S.I. 2014/900, art. 2(h)

I15 S. 7 in force at 1.4.2015 in so far as not already in force by S.I. 2015/841, art. 3(f)


8 Procedure for appointment (E+W)

(1) A relevant authority must consult and take into account the advice of its auditor panel on the selection and appointment of a local auditor under section 7.

(2) The relevant authority must, within the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the appointment is made, publish a notice that—

(a) states that it has made the appointment,
(b) identifies the local auditor that has been appointed,
(c) specifies the period for which the local auditor has been appointed,
(d) sets out the advice, or a summary of the advice, of its auditor panel about the selection and appointment of a local auditor, and
(e) if it has not followed that advice, sets out the reasons why it has not done so.
(3) The notice must be published—

(a) if the relevant authority has a website, on its website;
(b) otherwise, in accordance with subsection (4).
(4) A relevant authority publishes a notice in accordance with this subsection if—

(a) in the case of a relevant authority other than a health service body, it publishes the notice in such manner as it thinks is likely to bring the notice to the attention of persons who live in its area;
(b) in the case of a clinical commissioning group, it publishes the notice in such manner as it thinks is likely to bring the notice to the attention of—
(i) persons who live in the area of the group, and
(ii) persons who do not live in the area of the group but for whom the group is responsible;
(c) in the case of special trustees for a hospital, they publish the notice in such manner as they think is likely to bring the notice to the attention of persons to whom services are provided at that hospital.
(5) The relevant authority must exclude from the notice information whose disclosure would prejudice commercial confidentiality, unless there is an overriding public interest in favour of its disclosure.

(6) This section is subject to Schedule 3 (further provision about appointment of local auditors) and provision made under it.

Annotations:

Commencement Information

I16 S. 8 in force at 1.4.2015 by S.I. 2015/841, art. 3(g)


9 Requirement to have auditor panel (E+W)

(1) Each relevant authority must have an auditor panel to exercise the functions conferred on auditor panels by or under this Act.

(2) This section does not apply to—

(a) a chief constable, or
(b) the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.
(3) Schedule 4 makes further provision about auditor panels.

Annotations:

Commencement Information

I17 S. 9(3) in force at 4.4.2014 for specified purposes by S.I. 2014/900, art. 2(i)

I18 S. 9 in force at 1.4.2015 in so far as not already in force by S.I. 2015/841, art. 3(h)


10 Functions of auditor panel (E+W)

(1) A relevant authority's auditor panel must advise the authority on the maintenance of an independent relationship with the local auditor appointed to audit its accounts.

(2) Advice under subsection (1) to a police and crime commissioner for an area must include advice on the maintenance of an independent relationship between the local auditor and the chief constable for the area.

(3) Advice under subsection (1) to the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime must include advice on the maintenance of an independent relationship between the local auditor and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.

(4) A relevant authority's auditor panel must advise the authority on the selection and appointment of a local auditor to audit its accounts.

(5) Advice under subsection (1) or (4) must be given—

(a) if the relevant authority asks for it, and
(b) at other times, if the auditor panel thinks it is appropriate to do so.
(6) A relevant authority's auditor panel must advise the authority on any proposal by the authority to enter into a liability limitation agreement (see section 14).

(7) Advice under subsection (6) must be given if the authority asks for it.

(8) The Secretary of State may by regulations—

(a) provide more details about an auditor panel's functions under any of subsections (1) to (7) ;
(b) confer or impose other functions on a relevant authority's auditor panel in relation to the audit of the authority's accounts;
(c) enable a relevant authority to confer or impose other functions on its auditor panel in relation to the audit of its accounts.
(9) A relevant authority must publish advice from its auditor panel in accordance with subsection (10).

(10) A relevant authority publishes advice in accordance with this subsection if—

(a) in the case of a relevant authority other than a health service body, it publishes the advice in such manner as it thinks is likely to bring the advice to the attention of persons who live in its area;
(b) in the case of a clinical commissioning group, it publishes the advice in such manner as it thinks is likely to bring the advice to the attention of—
(i) persons who live in the area of the group, and
(ii) persons who do not live in the area of the group but for whom the group is responsible;
(c) in the case of special trustees for a hospital, they publish the advice in such manner as they think is likely to bring the advice to the attention of persons to whom services are provided at that hospital.
(11) The relevant authority must exclude from advice published under subsection (10) information whose disclosure would prejudice commercial confidentiality, unless there is an overriding public interest in favour of its disclosure.

(12) An auditor panel must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State in exercising, or deciding whether to exercise, its functions.

(13) A relevant authority must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State in exercising, or deciding whether to exercise, its functions in relation to its auditor panel.

Annotations:

Commencement Information

I19 S.10 in force at 4.4.2014 for specified purposes by S.I. 2014/900, art. 2(b)

I20 S. 10 in force at 1.4.2015 in so far as not already in force by S.I. 2015/841, art. 3(i)


11 Relationship with relevant authority (E+W)

(1) A relevant authority other than a health service body must, if asked to do so by its auditor panel, supply to the panel any documents or information held by the authority and required by the panel for the exercise of its functions.

(2) A relevant authority's auditor panel, other than the auditor panel of a health service body, may require a member or officer of the authority to come to a meeting of the panel to answer its questions.

(3) In the application of subsection (2) to a corporation sole, the reference to a member is a reference to a holder of that office.

(4) A person mentioned in subsection (2) must comply with a requirement imposed by an auditor panel under that subsection.

(5) This does not require the person to answer any questions which the person would be entitled to refuse to answer in or for the purposes of proceedings in a court in England and Wales.

(6) The auditor panel of a police and crime commissioner for an area may also exercise the functions in subsections (1) and (2) in relation to the chief constable for the area.

(7) The auditor panel of the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime may also exercise the functions in subsections (1) and (2) in relation to the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.

(8) The auditor panel of a parish meeting may only exercise the function in subsection (2) in relation to the chairman of the parish meeting or the proper officer of the district council within whose area the parish lies.

Annotations:

Commencement Information

I21 S. 11 in force at 1.4.2015 by S.I. 2015/841, art. 3(j)