Auditors should not be consultants [ *particularly to the council they audit!]

* after the big disgraced Tory councillor Graham Brown debacle, EDDC’s internal auditors (South West Audit Partnership) were given a consultancy contract to investigate his influence on planning decisions while running his own planning consultancy in East Devon. The report was wishy-washy to say the least, as reported by EDW here:

“Audit firms should be banned from carrying out consultancy services, according to a report of MPs.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee this week released a report into the future of audit, launched after recent accounting scandals at firms including Carillion and Patisserie Valerie.

Among a raft of conclusions, it said that audit firms currently face conflict of interests if they also carry out advisory services, leading to lower quality auditing.

Committee chair Rachel Reeves said: “For the big firms, audits seem too often to be the route to milking the cash-cow of consultancy business.

“The client relationship, and the conflicts of interest which abound, undermine the professional scepticism needed to deliver reliable, high-quality audits.

“Splitting audit from non-audit business would be a big step to boosting the culture of challenge needed to deliver high-quality audits.”

The report said that non-audit profits currently subsidise the pay of audit partners within firms.

“We do not think that this is a healthy state of affairs,” it said.

“Audit partners must not be or feel indebted to non-audit partners.

“That frame of mind can only lead to audit partners being mindful of the interests of the non-audit practice, when we expect them to serve the interests of the firm, its shareholders and the wider public.”