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Local public audit in England

Helpsheets and support

Updated: 31 Oct 2022 Update History

ICAEW is responsible for the licensing, registering and monitoring of auditors who wish to carry out audits of local public bodies. This page explains what accountancy firms and individuals need to do to become a registered local auditor under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.

Local Auditor Register

The Local Auditor Register contains a full list of registered local auditors and key audit partners.

Working in the regulated area of local audit

This work is reserved by law to a registered local auditor. Generally it is audit work in relation to a local body (or relevant authority as defined by Section 2 of the Act). Firms should also note that this doesn’t, however, reflect the inclusion of NHS trusts and special trustees by virtue of Schedule 13 – and then the disapplication of this by SI 2015/975.

A registered local auditor is a firm that undertakes regulated local audit work. It must be registered with an RSB. For local public audit work the RSB is ICAEW.

2021-22 Public Sector Monitoring Reviews

This short video from ICAEW’s Professional Standards Quality Assurance Department (QAD) summarises the findings of its public sector monitoring activity in 2021-22. This feedback covers QADs monitoring activity under both the Local Audit and Accountability Act and the wide range of public sector audits ICAEW reviews under contract for various organisations.

88% of financial audit reviews carried out by ICAEW’s Quality Assurance Department (QAD) in 2021-22 were graded good or generally acceptable. This feedback covers QADs monitoring activity under both the Local Audit and Accountability Act and the wide range of public sector audits ICAEW reviews under contract for various organisations.

The results of these reviews form part of the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) summary report on 2021/22 local audit inspections. Overall, the FRC rated 70% of local audits as good or only requiring limited improvements.

While we recognise there are areas for improvement, we are pleased to see that the number of audits categorised as good or requiring limited improvements has remained consistent with 2020/21.

As the sole Recognised Supervisory Body (RSB) for local audit, ICAEW is responsible for the licensing, registering and monitoring of auditors who carry out audits of relevant authorities, as defined in schedule 2 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.

All firms authorised by ICAEW to carry out local public audits under the Local Audit and Accountability Act and are actively undertaking local audits receive a monitoring review at least once every three years. Those firms that are authorised but are not actively undertaking local audits receive a review at least once every six years.

When does a firm need to become a registered auditor?

Under Schedule 5, section 4 of the Act, a firm can only accept appointment as a local auditor if it’s a registered local auditor under the rules of an RSB. For local public audit work the RSB is ICAEW. The new framework came into operation on 1 April 2015.

How can my firm become a registered local auditor?

If your firm wants to become a registered local auditor, it will need to:

How can I become a key audit partner?

Individuals, who sign local audit reports within a registered local audit firm, are called key audit partners (KAPs). The detailed eligibility requirements are set by the Act and the FRC’s Guidance for Recognised Supervisory Bodies on the approval of Key Audit Partners for local audit . They include a requirement to:

  • hold an appropriate qualification;
  • meet relevant eligibility criteria; and
  • be nominated by the firm as a key audit partner.

The requirements are detailed in the Local Audit Regulations and Guidance.

In discussion and agreement with the FRC, ICAEW has also developed specific guidance for the eligibility, defining what constitutes ‘local audit’ and ‘similar audit work’

Please fill in the key audit partner application form.

Application to become a key audit partner - experience table.

If you need to provide evidence of your practical training, use our supplementary training record form.

If you move to a new firm, you must reapply for key auditor partner status.

Key audit partner applications 2021

  UK individuals  Overseas individuals  Total 
Number of applicants for key audit partner status (1) 13 0 13
Number of individuals who have been approved as key audit partners (2) 12 0 12
Approved applicants who hold an ICAEW audit qualification under the Companies Act 2006  5 0
Approved applicants who hold a qualification under the Companies Act 2006 from another RQB  3 0 3
Approved applicants who applied via a transitional route 4 0 4

(1) These are applications received in the calendar year.

(2) These are applications approved in the calendar year, regardless of whether the application was received in the same year. 

What are my Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements as a key audit partner?

As an ICAEW member, or individual authorised by ICAEW as a key audit partner, you must comply with the CPD requirements to ensure you remain up to date.

How can I become a local audit affiliate?

To become an audit affiliate, please complete the application for local audit affiliate status.

The application process and fees

Regulatory applications and fees

Access more information about the application process, including the 8-12 week’s lead time, the assessment process and fees.

Changes in firm structure – please tell us within 10 business days

It’s important to maintain your firm record accurately. An inaccurate or out of date firm record may constitute a misdescription of your firm. It could also lead to regulatory or disciplinary action.

These frequently asked questions may help with any further questions you have about the application process.

ICAEW as a supervisory body

The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (the Act) came into force on 31 January 2014. The Act abolished the Audit Commission and established new arrangements for the audit and accountability of local public bodies in England. Under the new framework, local government and health bodies are able to procure and appoint their own auditors.

The FRC granted ICAEW a recognition order as a recognised supervisory body (RSB) in November 2015. Under this framework, ICAEW is responsible for the licensing, registering and monitoring of auditors who carry out audits of local public bodies. Under this framework, ICAEW is responsible for the licensing and registering of local auditors and the monitoring of auditors who carry out audits of non-major local public bodies. Major local audits are defined  as a local public body which meets the following criteria:

  • total income or expenditure of at least £500 million; or
  • for a Local Authority pension scheme, at least 20,000 members or gross assets in excess of £1,000 million.