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Our work programme

Our work programme for 2014/15

Audit Scotland will undertake a total of nine performance audits for the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission during 2014/15, and this programme is part of a wider public audit model which includes the annual audits of over 180 public bodies; reports on significant issues of public interest; audits of best value in local government and of community planning partnerships; overview reports on specific sectors; and the national fraud initiative.

NHS financial performance 2013/14

Due for release: October 2014 for the Auditor General

Summary: Audit Scotland prepares an annual performance audit report on the NHS in Scotland on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland. The report will focus on the performance of the NHS in Scotland during the financial year 2013/14 and the challenges for the future.

We will comment on areas including: financial performance, transparency, governance and financial management, value for money, financial sustainability, performance against national targets, progress with plans for health and social care integration, demand and capacity, and key pressure areas within the NHS.

West Lothian Community Planning Partnership

Due for release: October 2014 for the Auditor General / Accounts Commission

Summary: Community planning is the process by which councils and other public bodies work together, with local communities, businesses and voluntary groups, to plan and deliver better services and improve the lives of people who live in Scotland. Community planning is delivered by Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs). West Lothian is one of five CPPs to be audited this year.

We will also publish a national overview report for the Auditor General and Accounts Commission - Community planning in Scotland, scheduled for November 2014.

Orkney Community Planning Partnership

Due for release: October 2014 for the Auditor General / Accounts Commission

Summary: Community planning is the process by which councils and other public bodies work together, with local communities, businesses and voluntary groups, to plan and deliver better services and improve the lives of people who live in Scotland. Community planning is delivered by Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs). Orkney is one of five CPPs to be audited this year.

We will also publish a national overview report for the Auditor General and Accounts Commission - Community planning in Scotland, scheduled for November 2014.

Community planning in Scotland

Due for release: November 2014 for the Auditor General / Accounts Commission

Summary: In March 2013, Audit Scotland published Improving community planning in Scotland. This national review found that CPPs had not met the ambitious goals set for them, but with the right leadership and support could make inroads to achieving them in the future. It identified areas for improvement and made recommendations at a national and local level.

This report will assess what progress has been made in response to the recommendations in Improving community planning in Scotland, and will aim to identify:

• areas of good practice that might be applied more widely across Scotland

• opportunities for further improvement

• barriers to taking forward the ongoing improvement agenda.


Borrowing and treasury management in local government

Due for release: December 2014 for the Accounts Commission

Summary: Councils usually borrow money to help finance capital expenditure. In certain circumstances, they may borrow money in advance of need and invest those sums, although they are not allowed to borrow specifically for the purpose of investment. In recent years, restrictions on capital budgets have meant that councils have increasingly sought to use borrowing to finance capital expenditure, and their combined annual net borrowing has increased from £500 million in 2004/05 (27 per cent of capital expenditure) to £1.3 billion in 2011/12 (54 per cent of capital expenditure). At March 2012, councils had total borrowings of £10.5 billion.

The CIPFA Prudential Code provides a framework for councils within which each council is free to set its own borrowing limits.

This audit will examine the role played by borrowing and treasury management in councils’ overall financial strategies.

City of Edinburgh Council statutory follow-up

Due for release: December 2014 for the Accounts Commission

Summary: To follow

Scotland’s new financial powers and financial reporting: a progress report

Due for release: December 2014 for the Auditor General

Summary: The financial environment for government in Scotland is changing. The Scotland Act 2012 includes new financial powers for the Scottish Parliament that aim to increase autonomy and strengthen accountability. These powers will be introduced over the next two years, specifically:

• new taxes on land transactions and waste disposals to landfill, from April 2015

• new borrowing and cash management powers, from April 2015

• new powers to set a Scottish rate of income tax, from April 2016.

These new powers provide more flexibility but also introduce greater variability if, for example, the amounts raised through taxes are more or less than expected. This has implications for how Scotland’s public finances are managed and provides further impetus for comprehensive and transparent financial reporting, as highlighted in Audit Scotland’s report Developing financial reporting in Scotland (July 2013).

Our report will assess the progress of the Scottish Government and its partners in implementing the financial measures in the Scotland Act 2012 and provide an update on how the Scottish Government is developing its financial reporting.

South Ayrshire Council statutory follow-up

Due for release: December 2014 for the Accounts Commission

Summary: To follow

Broadband infrastructure

Due for release: January 2015 for the Auditor General

Summary: Achieving significantly improved broadband coverage and speed is a major component of the Scottish Government’s digital strategy. The overarching aims of broadband investment are improved digital inclusion and to provide a solid basis for businesses development – both significant priorities for the Scottish Government. During 2013, two significant contracts were awarded (to BT) to provide infrastructure – the combined value of these contracts is £410 million (public sector investment of £295 million). The aim is to deliver an infrastructure that will deliver speeds of 40 80 Mbps for between 85 and 90 per cent of premises by 2015.

Carrying out the audit in 2014/15 will allow us to assess progress to date, but retain scope to propose potential improvements. Discussions with the Scottish Government suggest that the programme may already be running behind schedule, although the targets may still be met if progress leverages further private sector investment/activity. We may be able to identify what further actions are required to deliver the expected benefits.

Although the contracts are being led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (for the Highlands) and the Scottish Government (the rest of the country), individual councils have also contributed, and retain a strong interest. There is scope, therefore, to examine how the managing bodies are working with councils.

East Dunbartonshire Council statutory follow-up

Due for release: January 2015 for the Accounts Commission

Summary: To follow

Fire reform

Due for release: January 2015 for the Auditor General

Summary: The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 created a new national fire service in Scotland. The budget for the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is £277 million for 2013/14 (including savings of £22 million). It employs 9,000 staff (about 4,000 full-time firefighters). The SFRS is expected to deliver further savings in the next two years (£12 million in 2014/15 and £7 million in 2015/16).

HM Fire Service Inspectorate published an overview of how the new service is performing operationally in November 2013. This has provided assurance that frontline services have been maintained during the transition to the new service but that delivering the savings will be a challenge.

This performance audit will comment on the progress in implementing relevant recommendations from HMFSI and other audit work.

Commonwealth Games 2014: final report

Due for release: February 2015 for the Auditor General / Accounts Commission

Summary: The current budget for the Commonwealth Games is £563 million, with £462 million of this funded by the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council. This is a significant amount of public funding and a major event for Scotland.

The final cost of the Games will not be known until November/December 2014 so we will not be able to report until spring 2015 at the earliest.

Overview of local government 2015

Due for release: February 2015 for the Accounts Commission

Summary: To follow

Scotland’s colleges

Due for release: February 2015 for the Auditor General

Summary: Colleges are the main providers of further education in Scotland and play an important role in helping to achieve sustainable economic growth. There has been significant restructuring in the college sector over the past two years which has led to the creation of 13 college regions. The sector continues to undergo significant reform, including the ongoing integration of merged colleges, development of regional boards, reclassification of colleges as public sector bodies and changes to the way in which colleges are funded. These reforms, and the constraints on public sector funding, mean that colleges continue to face challenges.

Audit Scotland has published a number of reports about Scotland’s colleges. This audit will provide an update on the overall financial position of the college sector and the progress colleges are making towards structural reform. The audit will also examine the key issues affecting Scotland’s colleges over the next few years.

Court efficiency

Due for release: March 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.

Moray Council statutory follow-up

Due for release: March 2015 for the Accounts Commission

Summary: To follow

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