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Healey suggests audit committees

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Local councils could improve the quality of their investment policies with an audit committee and better training, according to John Healey.

The Local Government minister told a Communities and Local Government Committee hearing that certain areas within the guidance and approach to local council investments needed tightening up.

When the Conservative MP Greg Hands asked about the involvement of council members in the investment decisions, Mr Healey said strategies had to be presented and approved by members, as was presently the case.

Below that, he added, it had to be decided whether the existing scrutiny was sufficient, and whether the capacity of members and senior officers to scrutinise the decision was adequate.

It may be the case that better support and training was required and local authorities should perhaps have their own audit committees, Mr Healey suggested.

In reply to Labour MP Clive Betts, the minister thought the issue of the usefulness of external advisers to local authorities had to be looked at and he hoped that it would be reflected in guidance from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

Mr Healey said that DCLG did not have oversight of all the investment decisions local authorities chose to make.

The DCLG were responsible for the legislation and guidance while CIPFA was responsible for the more practical day-to-day advice, training and guidance.

Information from DeHavilland

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