Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has today announced that Robert Light has been appointed to the Audit Commission Board, as the Government presses ahead with the disbandment of the Commission and the outsourcing of the work of its audit practice to the private sector.
Councillor Light joins as the Conservative representative on the Board and brings considerable knowledge and experience which should assist the Commission during this period of change. The Commission has three ‘political’ posts on the Board, representative of the three main political parties and reflective of the Commission’s principal stakeholder - local authorities. This appointment follows the resignation of Sir Merrick Cockell, the previous Conservative representative who left to take up his post as Chair of the Local Government Association.
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, said:
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Light. He brings significant practical public sector experience to the Board. His extensive links and knowledge of the Commission’s work will prove invaluable to the Board.
Eric Pickles announced in August 2010 plans to disband the Commission and refocus audit on helping local people hold councils and local public bodies to account for local spending decisions.
Subject to Parliament enacting the necessary legislation, local audits will be regulated within a statutory framework overseen by the National Audit Office and the profession. Councils will appoint their own independent external auditors and there will be new audit arrangements for local health bodies.
On 5 September 2011, the Audit Commission launched a process to outsource the work of its in-house audit practice to the private sector, including a potential employee-led company.
Notes to editors
Councillor Robert Light has been a member for Kirklees Council since 1987. He is currently the Deputy Chair of the Local Government Association and an IDeA (Improvement and Development Agency for Local Government) peer. He has been part of a Comprehensive Performance Assessment team for four local authorities and brings considerable experience from his involvement in the close down of Firebuy ltd. He is currently a Board member of the Environment Agency. He receives £16,802 per annum (2010-11).
The appointment will cover the period from 14 September 2011 to 31 December 2012. The Commissioners will be paid £14,358 per annum based on a time commitment of 3 days per month. The appointment has been made in accordance with the Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies - The Commissioner for Public Appointments. Councillor Light’s political activity has been declared to the Department.
The Audit Commission was established in 1983 to appoint auditors for councils, NHS bodies (excluding Foundation Trusts), police authorities and other local public services across England.
DCLG launched a consultation on the Future of Local Audit on 30 March 2011. The consultation period closed on Thursday 30 June and we are currently analysing responses received. Following consideration of responses to the consultation, we will publish our proposals in a draft bill to allow full Parliamentary scrutiny. A final bill will then be introduced as soon as Parliamentary time allows.
The Audit Commission began a procurement process on 5 September to outsource the work of its in-house audit practice with effect from 2012-13. This follows Ministers conclusions that outsourcing was likely to offer the best value for money, as well as being the quickest and, in their view, the most straightforward option for transferring the work to the private sector. Ministers therefore asked the Commission to design a fair and competitive procurement process that would allow a range of firms to bid for the work. At its meeting on 28 July 2011, the Commission Board agreed to undertake the procurement exercise. Ministers announced the decision on the same day.
The Labour representative on the Audit Commission Board is Stephen Houghton and the Liberal Democrat Commissioner is Sir David Williams, who was appointed on 6 July 2011.
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