There is a requirement for each local authority to establish an audit committee, guided by best practice and developments in corporate governance in both the public and private sectors. Section 122 of the Local Government Act 2001 provided a legal basis for the existence of audit committees, which are now operating in every city and county council in accordance with the guidelines issued at national level.
The Local Government Reform Act 2014 re-states the legislative provisions relating to audit committees, sets out their role in greater detail and confers specific responsibilities on audit committees in relation to the auditor’s report and audited financial statement.
The statutory functions of audit committees are set out in the Act as:
- to review financial and budgetary reporting practices and procedures within the local authority that has established it;
- to foster the development of best practice in the performance by the local authority of its internal audit function;
- to review any audited financial statement, auditor’s report or auditor’s special report in relation to the local authority and assess any actions taken within that authority by its chief executive in response to such a statement or report and to report to that authority on its findings;
- to assess and promote efficiency and value for money with respect to the local authority’s performance of its functions; and
- to review systems that are operated by the local authority for the management of risks.