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NAO head urges public sector accountants to attend ICAEW sustainability conference

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 03 Dec 2021

The Comptroller and Auditor General has urged accountants working in or with the public sector to attend ICAEW’s virtual public sector sustainability conference on 10 December.

Ahead of the ICAEW’s first-ever public sector conference on 10 December, Alison Ring, Director for Public Sector and Taxation at ICAEW, recorded a video interview with Gareth Davies, the UK Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) and head of the National Audit Office.

The discussion focussed on sustainability and the key role of the public sector, which will be the theme for this year’s conference. 

“Government is legislating for the whole economy to achieve net zero, with implications for business, individuals and households,” says Davies in the interview. “It would be inconceivable if government did not put itself at the centre of that challenge.”

Davies emphasises that “it is not just central government but also, crucially, local government.” He highlights the recent NAO report on local government and net zero in England that identified weaknesses in central government’s approach to working with local government. One of the authors of this study, Katy Losse, will join a panel of other sector experts at the conference, to explore how central and local government can work better together.

Accountants and auditors in the public sector have a major role to play in the path towards net zero. The NAO is focussed on holding government to account and driving improvements. Davies points out “lots of changes flowed from” an NAO report on how central government is organising itself for net zero

At the conference, Adrian Crompton, the Auditor General for Wales, will give a keynote address explaining the role Audit Wales is playing in inspiring improvements in the Welsh public sector’s response.

Ring ends the interview by asking what Davies would say to those unsure whether they should attend because they are “a bit webinar weary”. Davies responds by emphasising the importance of this topic and how accountants will require knowledge about reporting and assurance requirements to perform their jobs effectively in the future.

“This is genuinely potentially inspiring, I think, for accountants and auditors. We have a big contribution to getting this right”.

ICAEW’s public sector sustainability conference will take place as a virtual event on 10 December 2021. Because of the importance of the public sector and sustainability to ICAEW and its members, the conference is free to attend. For more details and to book your place, click this link.

You can watch Alison Ring’s interview with Gareth Davies here.

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