Auditing Best Value
In 2015, the Accounts Commission undertook a further review of its approach to auditing Best Value. The Commission concluded that a new approach to auditing BV should:
- have a focus on driving the pace and depth of improvement in local government,
- also have a focus on the quality of service experienced by the public and outcomes achieved for communities,
- continue to underline the importance of good governance, including effective scrutiny arrangements,
- produce more frequent assurance on BV across all 32 councils.
The revised approach began in October 2016, with the first Best Value Assurance Report (BVAR) being published in June 2017 and the final BVAR published in September 2022. The Comhairle’s BVAR is published below under Related Reports.
A new Code of Audit Practice applies to public sector audits for financial years starting on or after 1 April 2022. It replaces the Code issued in May 2016. There are several significant changes introduced by the new Code, including the integration of Best Value work into wider scope audit work.
The Best Value audit work is now fully integrated into annual financial audit work to increase efficiency and reduce the scrutiny burden on councils. The work is reported in Annual Audit Reports, including annual risk based, follow-up and thematic Best Value work, providing judgements on the pace and depth of continuous improvements and service performance. The Comhairle’s Annual audit reports are submitted each year by the auditors to the Audit and Scrutiny Committee and to the Controller of Audit for Scotland.
The new programme of Best Value reports will cover all 32 councils, starting in October 2023 and concluding by the end of the audit appointments, in August 2027. The Controller of Audit will report to the Accounts Commission on each council’s performance on their duty of Best Value at least once over the five-year audit appointment.
The Best Value work now includes thematic work which will look at a focused area of Best Value across all 32 councils. The theme is reviewed and revised on an annual basis and is cognisant of the risks and challenges councils face. This work provides the Accounts Commission with the opportunity to offer a national overview of key aspects of Best Value as well as supporting accountability and improvement within individual councils to generate greater impact from the audit work. The Controller of Audit will bring an annual Assurance and Risks report to the Commission. This report will summarise the findings from all audit work, intelligence gathering and risk assessments undertaken across local government by auditors and scrutiny partners.