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Timeliness of local auditor reporting on local government in England, 2020

Local public bodies deliver many public services to taxpayers. In 2019-20, local authorities, local police and local fire bodies in England spent nearly £100 billion delivering these services.

Each year, local public bodies are required to prepare and publish financial statements setting out their financial performance. External auditors of councils audit the financial statements and provide their opinion on whether they present a true and fair view of their financial position; proper arrangements are in place to secure value for money; and if there are any matters to which they wish to draw attention to users of the financial statements.

In this report, we will examine the timeliness of auditor reporting on English local public bodies’ financial statements covering 2019-20, against their 30 November deadline. We will describe the local audit framework alongside stakeholders’ views on the factors underlying late delivery and the impact of this.

If you would like to provide evidence for our study please email the study team on enquiries@nao.org.uk, putting the study title in the subject line. The team will consider the evidence you provide; however, please note that due to the volume of information we receive we may not respond to you directly.