Tag Archives: Audit Commission

From The Sun: “Run fire service like John Lewis”

By David Bicknell

It’s not often that the prospects for mutuals – or John Lewis, for that matter – make it into The Sun. But this story takes the mutuals bandwagon into areas it hasn’t been previously.

The Sun’s story – ‘Run fire service like John Lewis – refers to the Cleveland Fire Brigade, which reportedly ‘plans to turn itself into a mutual — just like John Lewis stores where staff share profits.’

The story quotes Cleveland’s chief fire officer Ian Hayton saying: “Combining a public service ethos with an entrepreneurial drive for growth will empower our staff.”

It also quotes Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude saying, “We are opening up public services to get more bang for the taxpayers’ buck.

“Frontline workers know best how to do their job. That’s why mutuals can be the best way to run things.”

However, an article on Public Finance makes the point that the ‘mutual option’ was always a non-starter for public audit.

It argues that the Audit Commission’s abandonment of the ‘mutual option’ for audit follows a weekend disclosure that police forces are being pressured by the Home Office ‘to outsource great swathes of front as well as back-office work.’

Audit Commission: the feeling’s not mutual

Audit Commission to Offer Procurement Opportunity for Employee-led Mutuals to bid for projects

By David Bicknell

An article published by eGovMonitor has suggested that local authority audits could be outsourced to the private sector by 2012/13.

eGovMonitor suggested that the Audit Commission has been asked to develop a procurement process through which a range of firms could bid for the projects. These would also include employee led mutuals.

“We have been asked to design a procurement process that allows a range of firms to bid, including the possibility of an in-house bid, which could form the basis of a new and distinctive provider in the market, possibly a mutual,” Eugene Sullivan, Chief Executive of the Audit Commission said.


Audit Commission to be mutualised?

By David Bicknell

According to an article on the Guardian’s Public Leaders Network, the Audit Commission may be mutualised.

The article suggests that the Communities and  Local Government department has yet to decide on the direction of the commission once it is scrapped. but some experts believe that making the local government watchdog into a competitive mutual should be the preferred option for dealing with local government audits. Others, however, think a mutualised commission could fail to compete against the private sector.

“There are advantages in mutualisation,” says Olivier Roth, a researcher at the New Local Government Network thinktank. “The Audit Commission has contacts with every single local authority and with the comprehensive performance and area assessments, its has experience with audit regimes. It currently audits 70% of local authorities and already has a gigantic market share.”

Recent interviews carried out by the NLGN of senior managers and employees at the Audit Commission, including managing director, Gareth Davies, found broad support for mutualisation.

Other options include selling off the commission as a whole or in parts to private companies.