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ICAEW event

Public Sector Conference 2023: Accounting for government

Friday 8 December

How can government improve engagement with central government accounts, local government accounts and the public sector finances.

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2023 programme

Opening remarks
Mark Rhys, President, ICAEW
Keynote 1: Why the numbers matter
Public sector financial reporting is a key mechanism through which various stakeholders can get a glimpse into the inner workings of an organisation - what its values are, what it ranks as key risks and how it has performed. This matters on multiple grounds but none more so than for accountability purposes. Timely, accurate and robust annual reporting is part of the wider PFM ecosystem without which due process, oversight and internal rigour would diminish leading to an erosion of trust in the numbers.
Panel discussion 1: Making local government accounts readable
The Redmond review described local authority accounts as impenetrable which underlines the need for a discussion on how to make local government accounts readable. Local authority accounts are complex. This panel will discuss how some of the problems might be overcome and for the accounts to be more accessible to a wider audience. | Cecilie Booth, Corporate Director, Resources and S151 Officer, Peterborough City Council | Janet Dawson, GPS Assurance Partner, UK&I, EY | Lynn Pamment, Comptroller and Auditor General, Jersey Audit Office
Breakout sessions
These expert-led interactive discussion sessions will provide an opportunity for delegates to share ideas and obtain practical advice about what they can do in their own role to improve public sector governance.
Panel discussion 2: Making central government accounts readable
What is the purpose and objective of an entity, how is success measured and are they meeting their performance targets – are the basics covered, what is missing and what could be improved? This panel will explore some of the key reporting issues within central government accounts to see if they provide the information that users are looking for in an accessible and easily digested format. | Henry Midgely, Assistant Professor in Accounting, Durham University | Pauline Wallace, Chair, UK Endorsement Board
14:45 - 15:05
Keynote 2: How to communicate Public Sector finances in a way that people understand
Public sector finances are frequently communicated using statistical vocabulary that people may not be familiar with. Furthermore, public sector finances deal with very large numbers that some have difficulty to contextualise. What does £3 trillion of debt look like, does it have meaning or are the numbers so large that they become meaningless? To unpick some of these issues we are delighted to welcome Richard Hughes, Chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility to share his insights for the final keynote address.
Closing remarks
Alison Ring, Director, Public Sector & Taxation, ICAEW
Event close

Choose from the following breakout sessions:

Local government accounts - practical tips
An open discussion forum on practical tips on the preparation of local government accounts hosted by Iain Murray, Director at CIPFA.
Option 1
An open discussion forum hosted by Mark Merryweather, Councillor, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Assets & Property at Waverley Borough Council exploring who the users of the accounts are, who the users should be and whether the current format and content of annual reports meets the needs of councillors.
Option 2
Central government accounts - practical tips
An open discussion forum on practical tips on the preparation of central government accounts hosted by Steve Corbishley, Executive Director, NAO.
Option 3

Our speakers

Mark Rhys
Mark Rhys President, ICAEW

With 30+ years in banking audit, Mark led Deloitte's global engagement with the Financial Stability Board. As GPPC's Bank Working Group Chair, he facilitated talks between the profession, FSB, and IFIAR on audit quality. He also represented Deloitte in BCBS Accounting Experts Group. Moreover, Mark served on the PRA's Practitioner Panel for six years and contributed to Sir Donald Brydon's Auditors' Advisory Group.

Cecilie Booth
Cecilie Booth Corporate Director, Resources and S151 Officer, Peterborough City Council

Cecilie's role involves overseeing the council's financial and property matters, serving as the principal financial advisor for council projects, co-chairing the Joint Commissioning and Procurement Board, and representing the council in external financial organizations. She obtained her Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) qualification in 1998. She started her career as an internal auditor in the NHS before transitioning to various roles in local government. She also has experience as a Financial Consultant in the private sector and recently held the positions of Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer for the City of London Police.

Steve Corbishley
Steve Corbishley Director, National Audit Office

Steven Corbishley is a Director at the National Audit Office where he has worked for over 30 years. In that time, he has audited a wider range of central government bodies and departments, including the Home Office, HM Treasury, DWP, HMRC, Health, Education, and Justice. He is a Fellow at both the ICAEW and CIPFA and has held a number of non-executive roles in the NHS. His current role is as Head of the NAO’s Quality Unit. As part of this, he leads a small team of NAO colleagues in producing an annual guide on good practice in annual reporting.

Dr Henry Midgely
Dr Henry Midgely Assistant Professor in Accounting, Durham University

Dr. Henry Midgley, served at the National Audit Office from 2008 to 2021, including a secondment to the House of Commons, advising the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. He is currently involved with the Treasury's User and Preparer Group for central government accounts and recently provided insights to the Levelling up, Housing and Communities select committee. With a PhD from the University of Cambridge, his research focuses on the historical and contemporary role of accounting and audit in government, resulting in published articles addressing these topics.

Richard Hughes
Richard Hughes Chairman, Office for Budget Responsibility

Richard’s role as Chair at the Office for Budget Responsibility started in October 2020 for a five-year term. His career began at HM Treasury in 2000, focusing on domestic and international macroeconomic issues and leading the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review. In 2008, he joined the International Monetary Fund, heading the Fiscal Affairs Department's Public Finance Division, working on fiscal reform globally. From 2016 to 2019 he was Director of Fiscal Policy overseeing fiscal strategy, debt management, and treasury operations, and serving as Acting Chief Economist. He was also a Research Associate at the Resolution Foundation, publishing papers on fiscal rules, public investment, and the economic and fiscal impact of the coronavirus.

Ed Humpherson
Ed Humpherson Director General for Regulation, Office for Statistics Regulation, UK Statistics Authority

Ed Humpherson, the head of the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR), focuses on ensuring that statistics and data benefit the public. OSR promotes access to high-quality statistics that accurately represent society and drives data quality improvements across the UK government. He serves as Vice Chair of The Motability Foundation, trustee of Pro Bono Economics, and participates in advisory roles with organizations like the Regulatory Policy Institute, Admin Data Research UK, and the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence. Ed holds a Chartered Accountant certification and is affiliated with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Alison Ring, ICAEW's Director, Public Sector
Alison Ring OBE FCA Director, Public Sector and Taxation, ICAEW

Alison, who joined ICAEW in 2020, serves as the Director of the Public Sector team, supporting members engaged in public sector work and sustainable finances. Since September 2021, she also held the role of Director of the Tax team, representing ICAEW's voice in tax matters for both professionals and the public interest. Before ICAEW, Alison spent 25 years at HMRC, including a role as a Commissioners' Advisory Accountant. She previously worked in practice, where she qualified as a chartered accountant.

The conference is an excellent forum of bringing together practitioners, auditors and interested stakeholders to hear from leaders and debate how everyone in the ecosystem works together to tackle key priorities and issues with the objective at all times of ensuring accountability for taxpayers money.

Public Sector Conference 2021 delegate

I thoroughly enjoyed the event which had great speakers who combined their professionalism with a candid retelling of their experiences and working life examples.

Public Sector Conference 2022 delegate

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