Audit Scotland undertakes a number of audits for the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission as part of a wider public audit model. This includes the annual audits of over 200 public bodies, some of which are carried out by private firms; reports on significant issues of public interest; performance audits; audits of best value in local government and of Community Planning Partnerships; overview reports on specific sectors; and reports on the National Fraud Initiative.
Reports already published within 2014/15 can be found in the All reports section. Further information on our forthcoming performance and best value audits is set out below or can be obtained from the business manager for this work, Rikki Young, at email@example.com.
Falkirk Council Best Value Audit Work 2014
Due for release: August 2015 for the Accounts Commission
Summary: In May 2014, the Accounts Commission published the Assurance and Improvement Plan 2014-17 (AIP) for Falkirk Council. The Assurance and Improvement Plan is based on a shared risk assessment undertaken by a local area network (LAN), a group of representatives of all the scrutiny bodies who engage with the council. In the shared risk assessment for 2014-17, the LAN concluded that scrutiny was required in the areas of Governance and accountability and Improving and transforming public services.
This audit will assess whether the council’s decision-making structures, scrutiny arrangements and performance management arrangements are supporting it in improving services and delivering better outcomes for local people. The Accounts Commission has confirmed the importance of councils meeting their statutory duty of Best Value, working to high standards of governance and continually improving services. This is particularly important as public sector budgets continue to tighten, as is the need to make sure that public money is used most appropriately and is delivering maximum benefit.
Efficiency of prosecuting criminal cases through the sheriff courts
Due for release: September 2015 for the Auditor General
Summary: Our report Overview of Scotland’s justice system (September 2011) found significant inefficiencies in how criminal summary cases progressed through the court system. Cases were often resolved later than necessary, costing significant amounts of public money. We estimated that court ‘churn’ (when a case has to repeat a stage at court) cost around £10 million in 2009/10 and late decisions by the procurators fiscal not to proceed with a case cost around £30 million.
The Scottish Government established a four-year Making Justice Work programme due to be completed by the end of 2014 to improve efficiency in the criminal justice system. More recently, the Scottish Court Service has embarked on a programme of court closures to meet financial pressures.
The Moray Council Best Value follow-up audit 2015
Due for release: October 2015 for the Accounts Commission
In September 2013, the Accounts Commission published a Best Value Audit report for The Moray Council. The Accounts Commission’s findings in the report emphasised the need for the council to: continue to strengthen leadership, particularly through its development programmes for officers and members; integrate its various strategic plans and strands of improvement work; and take a more co-ordinated approach to seeking and making use of the views of customers.
This Best Value follow up report will focus on whether the council has made sufficient progress in these areas since the last audit.
NHS in Scotland 2015
Due for release: October 2015 for the Auditor General
Summary: The NHS in Scotland provides a range of vital services across the country to thousands of people every day. Increasing costs and a growing demand for services, combined with continuing pressures on public finances, means the NHS is facing increasing challenges in delivering its services.
Audit Scotland prepares an annual overview on the NHS in Scotland on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland (AGS). This year's report focuses on the performance of the NHS in Scotland during the financial year 2014/15. Our review will assess the financial performance of the NHS based on information from the annual accounts and audit reports of NHS boards in 2014/15. We will also comment on the broader performance of the NHS and will look ahead to examine how the NHS in Scotland is equipped to deal with future challenges.
Argyll and Bute Council Best Value Audit 2015
Due for release: November / December 2015 for the Accounts Commission
Summary: In July 2014, we published findings from follow-up Best Value audit work in Argyll and Bute Council. Our report noted the progress the council had made against findings of previous Best Value audit work published in October 2013, but also highlighted that it was too early to assess the effectiveness of plans being implemented. The Accounts Commission concluded that there was still much work to be done by the council to secure the improvements that it required in its previous findings and required the Controller of Audit to report on progress by the end of 2015.
In carrying out this Best Value audit work at the council during 2015, we will consider progress in the areas highlighted by the Accounts Commission in its findings on the July 2014 audit report, with particular focus upon the effectiveness of political management arrangements, scrutiny and roles and relationships, including between members and officers.
We have also carried out additional audit work within a year, such as that recently reported on the council’s decision regarding a proposal for a community buy out of Castle Toward, and a recent commissioning process undertaken by the council on behalf of Argyll and Bute Alcohol and Drugs Partnership.
Health and social care integration
Due for release: December 2015 for the Auditor General / Accounts Commission
Summary: This audit will look at the new arrangements that councils and NHS boards are putting in place to integrate adult health and care services. Audit Scotland will lead on an assessment of the progress made in implementing the reforms, working closely with the Care Inspectorate (CI) and Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS).
The new arrangements are to be in place by 1 April 2016. Councils and NHS boards are required to establish an integration authority (IA) to plan, resource and oversee the delivery of adult health and social care services in their area, providing better outcomes for people by improving joint working and sharing resources.
The aim of the audit is to establish if IAs are making good progress in integrating health and social care services, in line with the provisions and requirements set out by the Scottish Government. Our report will set out what progress councils and NHS boards have made to integrate health and social care services; if they are establishing clear and appropriate governance and financial arrangements; and what challenges and risks are emerging to the development of effective integrated health and social care services.
Changing models of health and social care
Due for release: January 2016 for the Auditor General / Accounts Commission
Summary: NHS boards and councils face increasingly difficult financial challenges at the same time as demand for health and social care services is increasing due to demographic change. This includes, the growing population of elderly and very elderly people; the number of people with long-term health conditions; and people’s rising expectations of care. To tackle these challenges, the Scottish Government set out an ambitious vision in September 2011 for health and social care to enable everyone to live longer, healthier lives at home or in a homely setting by 2020.
There is limited evidence of evaluating whether health and care services can adapt to changes in demand and if there is sufficient capacity to implement the Scottish Government's 2020 Vision for health and social care. We aim to examine these issues, using a series of scenarios and case studies, to examine the implications for social care and NHS resources over the longer term.
This work will provide a better understanding of the pressures NHS boards and councils are facing. It will show how resources could be used to provide different models of care and support in the future to better match needs using modelling, taking into account service users’ views and highlighting good practice. We will attempt to provide an estimate of the scale of change required and the resource implications for NHS boards and councils of implementing the 2020 Vision.
Major capital investment in councils: Targeted follow-up
Due for release: January 2016 for the Accounts Commission
Summary: In March 2013, the Accounts Commission reported on major capital investment in councils. The audit focussed on major capital projects over £5 million and assessed how well councils directed, managed and delivered capital investment. The report outlined an improvement in councils' governance structures for investment but it also identified weaknesses in the management of capital projects and investment programmes.
This targeted follow up audit will provide an update on councils' progress against the recommendations in the original report, and highlight what improvements they have made in the management of their capital investment programmes and projects since publication of the 2013 report. This includes actions taken to strengthen monitoring arrangements, use of the checklists and whether councils have applied lessons learned to their latest capital projects.