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PSAA uses supplementary procurement to appoint final auditors

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 26 Aug 2022

Public Sector Audit Appointments Ltd (PSAA) has secured 96.5% of the capacity required to appoint auditors to government bodies that have opted into the national scheme.

PSAA has made a final push to reach the full capacity of the national auditor appointment scheme, securing auditor appointment arrangements for the future audits of government bodies. One of the aims of the procurement was to strengthen capacity in the local authority audit market as there are only six audit firms currently performing local authority audits and only 9% of 2020/21 audited accounts were published by the 30 September 2021 statutory deadline.

PSAA has not been able to secure auditors for all bodies that have opted into its national scheme so has executed a rapid supplementary procurement process for four small-sized lots on 25 August 2022 to secure the remaining capacity needed. The nine registered suppliers that completed the pre-qualification process earlier this year will be invited to submit their responses by 13 September 2022. This procurement process will conclude next month and PSAA will release a final update on the scheme.

PSAA’s procurement strategy aims to secure the delivery of an audit service of the required quality for every opted-in body at a realistic market price and to support the drive towards a long-term competitive and more sustainable market for local public audit services.

Commenting on the latest PSAA announcement, ICAEW’s Director for Public Sector and Taxation Alison Ring said: “External audit is crucial to assuring strong public financial management in local government and giving taxpayers the confidence that their money is being spent effectively and efficiently.

“We are pleased that nine registered suppliers successfully completed the pre-qualification process, but the supplementary procurement process points to the need to improve capacity in the local audit market. Ongoing action will be needed to ensure the market is robust and attractive longer term.”

PSAA originally issued an invitation for English local authorities, police authorities and other eligible bodies to opt into the national scheme for auditor appointments from April 2023 in September of last year. 99% of eligible bodies opted into the scheme with the remaining bodies choosing to make their own audit appointment arrangements as permitted by the Local Audit and Accountability Act. The length of the appointment period is the five consecutive financial years commencing 1 April 2023.

CIPFA’s Kirsty Stanners, Head of Policy and Technical UK and International says external audit is a vital part of local authority transparency and accountability: “It is positive that PSAA’s procurement process is almost complete and has so far secured 96.5% of capacity for all bodies who have opted into the scheme. It’s important that the supplementary procurement exercise is concluded promptly as it is vital that all local authorities have an external auditor assigned to them.”

PSAA will make a full statement about the outcomes of the overall procurement in September as soon as the process has reached its conclusion.

Stanners adds: “We look forward to the full announcement in September, which will provide a good indication of the strength and health of the local audit market.”

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