About us

 

Holding councils to account

The Accounts Commission is the public spending watchdog for local government. We hold councils in Scotland to account and help them improve.

We operate impartially and independently of councils and of the Scottish Government and we meet and report in public.

The Commission is responsible for coordinating and facilitating scrutiny in local government.

The Controller of Audit is a statutory post established alongside the Commission in 1975. The Controller reports to the Commission and highlights areas of concern.

Read more about the Commission's role, duties and powers (PDF | 47KB). - Opens in a new window

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The Commission has adopted the following principles to help it guide its work
and fulfil its responsibilities during the Covid-19 emergency:

Latest news

About us and our work

The Commission publishes financial audits on each council in Scotland and an annual overview report on local government, as well as individual reports about council services.

Our strategy and annual action plan outlines our priorities for the coming year. Read more about our strategy.

Find out more about what we do in our short video.

 Download a transcript of this video - RTF 43Kb

Some of our recent work

North Ayrshire Council Best Value
 

North Ayrshire Council
North Ayrshire Council has demonstrated a culture of continuous improvement since a previous report by the Accounts Commission in 2011.

Affordable housing
 

City deals
This report is about the Scottish Government's target to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by March 2021.

Local government in Scotland Overview 2020

Local government financial overview
Our annual overview found that most of Scotland's councils are increasingly relying on money from reserves to keep up with demand for services and balance their budgets.

 

What we do

As well as auditing all local authorities in Scotland, the Commission looks at any issues arising from those audits and how well bodies are meeting Best Value duties. Find out more about each of the areas below:

local government overview

Local government overview

Reporting on local government's financial and overall performance

best value

Best Value reports
 

Reporting on councils' duty of continuous improvement

local government scrutiny

Local government scrutiny

Working with other bodies to improve the scrutiny of councils

how councils work

How councils work reports

Providing practical support to help improvement in local government

housing benefit

Housing benefit audit
 

Reporting on councils'  benefit services

annual audits

Annual audit reports
 

Auditing the accounts of all councils in Scotland

performance

Performance audit reports
 

Auditing the efficiency and effectiveness of services

statutory reports

Statutory reports
 

Highlighting issues found in a council's annual audit

council performance

Council performance reporting

Specifying what performance information councils must publish

Our meetings

Commission members

Next meeting: 10 December 2020

The Commission is keen, as the public watchdog, that it conducts its business as transparently as possible. Since its meeting on 7 May, the Commission has been meeting virtually. Video recordings of these meetings are available. Contact us if you would like a copy.

The Accounts Commission met on Thursday 13th August following its July recess. The agenda for this virtual meeting included the Commission’s nomination of Tim McKay as depute chair; the Moray Council Best Value Assurance Report (BVAR); and proposals for the Commission’s 2021 local government overview reporting You can find the agenda and full set of papers on our website here.

The item on the Best Value Assurance Report on Moray Council was well attended by elected member and officer representatives from Moray Council including the leader, opposition group leaders and the chief executive. While the Covid-19 crisis has brought many difficult challenges, it has at least helped to open-up Commission meetings to a wider audience, and this will become the norm for future meetings.

At the meeting, the Commission explored the Moray BVAR report in depth, with the Chair, Elma Murray, asking the audit team about political leadership and the council’s vision. Commission members probed further, asking about the council’s financial position and use of reserves, its children’s services including the schools estate, and partnership working. The Commission will publish its findings on the report on 27th August.

The Commission also agreed how it will take forward its local government overview reporting in 2021. It recognised that both its performance and challenges overview, and its financial overview reports would feature councils’ response to Covid-19, and its financial implications.

The Commission wishes to thank Audit Scotland and the audit teams in particular for their contribution, and to thank all of the observers from Moray Council for attending this virtual meeting.

 

Who we engage with

The public in general are our principal stakeholder but we engage with a wide range of others.

Engaging with stakeholders

Who we engage with:

  • Audit Scotland
  • Auditor General
  • Citizens
  • Parliament and Government: Government ministers, MSPs, Parliament committees
  • Local government: councils, joint boards, COSLA, SLGP, SOLACE, Improvement Service
  • Councils' community planning partners: public, private and third sectors, local communities
  • Other stakeholders: Equalities and Human Rights Commission, other UK audit and scrutiny bodies, professional bodies, trade unions
  • Press and broadcasting media
  • Scrutiny partners
  • Private sector audit firms