Non-Executive Director, Public Sector Audit Appointments Limited
Public Sector Audit Appointments Limited (PSAA) is an independent company limited by guarantee, incorporated by the Local Government Association in August 2014. PSAA began operations on 1 April 2015. The then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government delegated to the company on a transitional basis several statutory functions relating to local audit, following the closure of the Audit Commission. Most of these transitional responsibilities came to an end in early 2019.
In June 2016 the Secretary of State specified the company as an appointing person under the provisions of the Local Audit and Accountability Act, 2014 (LAAA 2014). This means that for audits of accounts from 2018/19 PSAA appoint an auditor to eligible principal authorities (councils, local police bodies, fire authorities and other local government bodies) that have chosen to opt into the national auditor appointment scheme developed by the company (more than 98% of eligible bodies currently participate in the scheme). Authorities remain in the scheme for the specified appointing period. The current appointing period covers audits of the accounts for the five financial years 2018/19 to 2022/23. Please see the company’s website (www.psaa.co.uk) for further details.
The PSAA Board currently comprises a non-executive Chairman, Steve Freer, and four other non-executive directors: Caroline Gardner, Clive Grace, Keith House and Stephen Sellers. Clive will step down from the Board in March having served two three-year terms. PSAA are therefore seeking to recruit a new member to succeed him.
The company performs a number of important functions under statutory delegations. They include:
• Appointing auditors to all relevant authorities;
• Setting scales of fees, and charging fees, for the audit of accounts of relevant authorities; and
• Ensuring effective management of contracts with audit suppliers for the delivery of audits of relevant authorities in accordance with the Code of Audit Practice published by the National Audit Office.
The Board’s responsibilities include:
• Establishing and taking forward the statutory functions and objectives of PSAA consistent with its overall strategic direction;
• Ensuring that PSAA operates within the limits of its statutory authority and in accordance with any other conditions or administrative requirements relating to the use of public funds;
• Ensuring that it receives and reviews regular financial information concerning the management of PSAA, and is informed in a timely manner about any matters relevant to the company’s activities;
• Approving and publishing the company’s annual report and accounts;
• Demonstrating high standards of corporate governance and independence at all times;
• Taking a balanced view of the Company’s approach to managing opportunity and risk; and
• Imposing no more than proportionate and defensible burdens on audit firms.
The Board is supported by a small, experienced executive team led by Chief Executive, Tony Crawley.
The period from 2018 has featured intense scrutiny of the role and performance of auditors. Following a number of high-profile corporate failures in the private sector, the Government commissioned three related independent reviews by Sir John Kingman, the Competition & Markets Authority and Sir Donald Brydon.
In 2019 a fourth review, led by Sir Tony Redmond, was commissioned to examine local authority financial reporting and external audit. It reported in September 2020, highlighting a range of significant challenges facing the local audit system and making recommendations to address them. In particular Sir Tony advocated a significant structural reorganisation involving the transfer of functions currently performed by PSAA, the Institute of Chartered Accounts in England and Wales (ICAEW), the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and the National Audit Office (NAO) to a proposed new body, the Office of Local Audit and Regulation (OLAR). As well as taking responsibility for transferred functions, the Redmond report envisaged that OLAR would act as the system leader for the local audit framework.
In December 2020 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published its response to the Redmond Review. This set out several measures that it would take in response including: temporarily extending the target timetable for the publication of local authorities’ audited accounts to 30 September; seeking amendments to relevant regulations to make it easier for PSAA, councils and audit firms to agree appropriate fees for additional audit work and to facilitate more flexible updating of scale fees; requiring councils to produce a new, easily accessible annual statement of service costs; requiring auditors to present their findings to a Full Council meeting every year, helping councillors and residents to hold councils to account more effectively; and working with partner organisations to improve the long-term supply of well-trained local auditors.
However, MHCLG’s response stated that it was “not currently persuaded that a new arms-length body is required” and it committed to engage widely to explore the full range of options as to how best to deliver effective system leadership for local audit, and to make a full response on the matter by Spring 2021.
PSAA are working closely with MHCLG as it considers potential options and undertakes further work to strengthen the local audit system. Rigorous, independent external audit plays a key role in ensuring both responsible stewardship of public money and effective public accountability. Both the Board and the staff of PSAA are fully committed to playing their part alongside other stakeholders in helping to develop and deliver a more resilient, sustainable local audit system.
PSAA is seeking to recruit a suitably experienced individual to join the Board. They should be able to demonstrate:
- A good understanding of the nature of PSAA’s business, the public audit regime, and the responsibilities of local public auditors;
- A commitment to ensure that due consideration is given to the relevant interests of all sectors and entities included within the remit of PSAA;
- A passion for and understanding of the drivers which are required to enable the provision of efficient, high-quality local public services and their continuous improvement;
- Knowledge of, and a well-developed interest in, the valuable contribution which an effective external audit service can make to help assure delivery of efficient local services and support public accountability;
- Board or equivalent experience of strategic leadership and governance responsibilities in a significant, well-governed public, private or voluntary sector organisation;
- An understanding and appreciation of governance, risk and control arrangements;
- The capacity to bring independent and objective judgement to the Board’s deliberations;
- The ability to work collaboratively with others to form an effective team;
- The ability to contribute to the leadership and effective oversight of all aspects of the company’s policies and performance, including engaging in, and adding value to, the Board’s strategic discussions.
- Applications are to be submitted by midday on Monday 8 March 2021 via the Apply Now button above, or via email to Paige Torrance – Talent Manager, The Whitehall & Industry Group via [email protected]
- To apply, please upload a CV, covering letter and Equalities Monitoring Form – downloadable below
- After the closing date, the appointing panel will assess candidates’ suitability for the role based on evidence provided in the applications against the above criteria.
- The interview date for those shortlisted is Monday 29 March 2021.
- For further information about the role, please contact Paige Torrance – Talent Manager, The Whitehall & Industry Group via [email protected] or 0207 222 1166