Shropshire Star

Council has to decide on its future auditor

Telford and Wrekin Council's next outside auditor will be appointed through an independent body to maximise value and efficiency, if councillors agree.

LAST COPYRIGHT SHROPSHRIE STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 06-Jan-16..Addenbrooke House - Telford & Wrekin Council - Telford Council - Telford, Shropshire.

The council’s current deal with Grant Thornton UK LLP expires in 2023, and members will vote how to choose the next contract this week.

In a report, finance, legal and governance bosses say the authority could form a dedicated panel – possibly with other councils – to choose the contractor, but say this could lead to unnecessary costs and “it may be difficult” to recruit the necessary lay members.

Instead, they recommend opting in to Public Sector Appointments Ltd, which will allow Telford and Wrekin to share costs with other authorities and take advantage of a wider pool of candidates.

A full council meeting will take place at The Place theatre, in Oakengates, on Thursday, November 18.

Finance Service Delivery Manager Pauline Harris, Audit and Governance Lead Manager Rob Montgomery and Legal and Democracy Service Delivery Manager Richard Philips say there were three options for negotiating and agreeing the new contract, “with varying risks and opportunities”.

The report says option one would be making a standalone appointment, which would allow the council to take maximum advantage of the new local appointment regime and have local input to the decision, but the process of recruiting the panel and procuring the contract was estimated to cost at least £16,000 plus ongoing expenses and allowances.

Ms Harris, Mr Montgomery and Mr Philips write. The ability to attract bids might be limited and “it may be difficult for the council to find suitably qualified people” to sit as independent appointees, they add.

Option Two would be to set up a joint panel with other local authorities. It would, again, need an independent majority but costs would be shared and firms may find a multiple-council contract more attractive.

However, there could be complications with individual councils having independence issues.

Option Three, which the report recommends, would see the council use Public Sector Appointments Ltd, an independent company incorporated by the Local Government Association.

“The PSAA will be able to negotiate contracts with firms nationally and by offering large contract values the firms would be able to offer better rates and lower fees,” the report says.

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