Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles today (4 February 2013) announced 4 new appointments to the Audit Commission Board. Ruth Thompson, Andrea Sutcliffe, Nicola Scrivings and Adrian Collett have been appointed as commissioners, as the government presses ahead with the closure of the Audit Commission. The new appointees will take up 4 vacancies on the Board as a number of the current commissioners came to the end of their terms of office in December 2012.
The new commissioners will work alongside other Board members to achieve an efficient and effective closedown and, in the lead up to closure, oversee the smaller Commission’s remaining duties and the transfer of continuing functions to other bodies. They will be paid a salary of £2,394 per year.
The government published a Draft Bill (PDF 1.54MB) in July 2012 to close the Commission and establish a new audit framework for public bodies. In the future, councils will be free to appoint their own independent external auditors from a more competitive and open market and there will be a new audit framework for local health bodies. The full programme of reforms to local audit and inspection and the closure of the Commission will bring in a more localist approach and are expected to save £650 million in public money over the next 5 years.
Appointments to the Audit Commission are regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. The Department for Communities and Local Government advertised for the commissioner posts in November 2012 and interviewed during December 2012. The selection process followed the process set out in the code issued by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
The Audit Commission Act 1998 requires that the Commission consists of not less than 10 or more than 15 members appointed by the Secretary of State. Four existing Board members are being reappointed: the Deputy Chairman Bharat Shah, Cllr Robert Light, Janet Baker and Brian Landers. The Chairman (Jeremy Newman) and one of the existing commissioners (Robert Anderson) were appointed earlier this year.
Ruth Thompson has held various senior and key positions across Whitehall, including the Interim Chief Executive, Partnerships for Schools, Director General of Higher Education at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Director of the Higher Education Strategy at the Department for Education and Skills. She is a member of the Moat Homes Ltd Board, Vice Chair of London Travel Watch and is a governor at Staffordshire University and Birkbeck University.
Andrea Sutcliffe is Chief Executive of Social Care Institute for Excellence. Prior to this she was the Chief Executive of the Appointments Commission from 2007 to 2012 and the Deputy Chief Executive at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. She has held Board positions for Age Concern, Islington and currently serves the Advisory Board of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review in the US.
Nicola Scrivings has spent much of her career in the Royal Mail, including roles as an Area General Manager and Marketing Director, and more recently as Regional Operations Director. She is also currently the Non Executive Director of the Cambridgeshire Community Service NHS Trust.
Adrian Collett joins the Board as the Liberal Democrat local government commissioner; he has been an active part of the Liberal Democrat Party since 1976. He was the Leader of Hart District Council from 1986 to 1988, and the Liberal Democrat Group Leader at Hampshire County Council from 1997 to 2011. He was a member of the Hampshire Police Authority for 23 years until its abolition in 2012, when he was the Chair. The Audit Commission Board includes 3 commissioners from local government, one from each of the main political parties.