Audit Commission delight

I was delighted to hear about the soon demise of the Audit Commission.

I’m saddened for those honest hard working public servants who will be without jobs but the organisation itself really didn’t deserve to survive.

My experiences of the Audit Commission was worse than that of a monopoly supplier. You had to use them for external audits of local authorities. They publicly decide how to rank you so you need to stay on their good side. Any complaints they were judge and jury.They decide the pricing. Every year they increased their pricing but spinned it cleverly. They refused to share project plans. I tried resorting to a FOI for the project plan but the response said it wouldn’t be in the public interest to share it!

One laughable problem was how to treat particular assets. Audit Commission didn’t like the way Southwark did one part. So Southwark every year for three years had to pay for the foremost expert to explain to the audit Commission the rules he’d created.

Thankfully Southwark Council will be able to use proper external auditors. Professional organisations that deliver to a stated plan and is able to stick to it. This really can’t come soon enough. This year Southwark’s most senior managers will be discussing fine details of the last financial year until 9 months into the new financial year due to the slowness of the Audit Commission. With a private auditor you’d expect around 3 months not 9.

6 thoughts on “Audit Commission delight

  1. James Barber says:

    Unfortunately the Audit Commission wont be killed of until 2012 and the commission has made it clear it wants to influence the legislation.
    How many lives will it get!

  2. Jason D says:

    Wait a minute… isn’t it Southwark where council tenants died because of poor quality housing that burnt down??? Isn’t there some kind of investigation going on about that??? I’m very pro accountability. Where was your resignation Councillor? Didn’t the Audit Commission give you a bad mark for that – a red flag or red card or something? No wonder you’re pleased they’re going!

    Heaven forbid your electorate should know what a poor job you’ve been doing. What incentive would you have to tell them… clearly people burning to death is one clue, but what about the smaller, but vitally important, things.

  3. Jason D says:

    Found it… http://oneplace.audit-commission.gov.uk/infobyarea/region/area/areaassessment/pages/localpriority.aspx?region=51&area=437&priority=4065
    It’s worse than I thought!
    You must be very relieved the coalition’s abolished housing targets too! Phew! Those 18,000 people left in sub-standard homes will be delighted I’m sure!

  4. James Barber says:

    Hi Jason D,
    What incredibly cheap jibes – but I’m still sorry if the closure of this commission affects you personally.
    What is in thep ublic domain is that the inquest for the Lakanal fire has yet to take place. Tragically 6 people died following London Fire Brigade instructions. The same fire brigade that trained all Southwark housing officers in making Fire Risk Assessments. The same fire brigade that was legally responsible for undertaking all FRA’s before the legislation changed. It appears the fabric of lakanal was changed allowing fire to spread before Southwark became responsible for FRA’s.

    Decent homes targets. I think its really sad that a target was necessary. All council homes should be decent. It was after 40 years of Labour neglect that so many homes were in such a dreadful state. For the period Lib Dems led the council 2002-2010 we spent £80M each and every year improving council homes. SO of course I’m not happy 18,000 homes still to go but investing £800M is something I’m proud of. You should also note that by decent homes standard many privately owned homes fail.

    Probably worth reminding ourselves of the official definition of a decent home:
    A) meets statutory minimum standard for housing undeR HHSRS.
    B) reasonable state of repair
    C) reasonable modern facilities:
    – reasonably modern kitchen – less than 20yrs old
    – kitchen with adequate space and layout
    – reasonably modern bathroom – less than 30 years old
    – an appropriately located bathroom and WC
    – adequate insulation against external noise – hence all the double glazing
    – adequate size and layout of common areas of blocks of flats
    D) must provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort – insulation, heating.

    In Southwark many homes were built in 70’s and 80’s. As they come up for 20th and 30th anniversary they suddenly don’t have modern kitchens and bathrooms and have no longer been classed as decent.

  5. Jason D says:

    To correct your assumption, I’m not employed by the audit commission and never have been. I have worked in and around local government for the last 20 years. Not southwark either by the way, I’m just one of your residents.
    I really hope you don’t think every concern your residents raise is a ‘cheap jibe’.
    I guess ‘armchair auditing’ doesn’t work either!?

  6. James Barber says:

    Hi Jason D,
    Apologies for my incorrect impression.
    I wish attendance and participation in Southwark’s Audit & Governance Committee did involve sitting in armchairs.
    If you’re ever free to talk over your professional local authority experiences outside Southwark and your expereicnes as a resident of Southwark I’d be grateful.
    Best wishes, james.

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