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Audit Commission scales back planned inspection fee increase

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The Audit Commission has bowed to pressure from councils and reduced its proposed increase in audit and inspection fees for the next three years.

The commission caused uproar in December when it proposed increasing audit fees by up to 14% for districts in 2008-09. But after consulting councils, it has opted for lower rises.

Increases vary depending on the type of council and year. Metropolitan councils, for example, will see a rise of only three percent this year, followed by one percent in the following year. They had faced rises of seven percent and nine percent over the next two financial years under the Audit Commission’s original proposal.

Meanwhile, large rises of seven percent for all councils have been pushed back until 2010-11.

Audit Commission chief executive Steve Bundred attributed the lower rises to a less formal approach to the new Use of Resources (UoR) assessment.

“Although the new UoR assessment is more extensive, it won’t require as much additional work from auditors as we had thought,” he explained.

People said things wouldn’t change much from year to year so we can do things on a more cyclical basis for demonstrably well-run councils.”

David Shakespeare (Con), chair of the Local Government Association’s improvement board, hailed the announcement as a “relief for councils”.

Go to Resources (bottom right) for a scale of proposed and actual increases.

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