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

Follow us on Twitter @AccCommScot.

Latest news

Deputy Chair of the Accounts Commission appointed

The Scottish Government have confirmed Elma Murray’s appointment as Deputy Chair of the Accounts Commission.  Her initial four-year appointment as Deputy Chair will run from 1 August 2019...

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

Councils' use of arm's-length organisations

Councils' use of arm's-length organisationsOur report looked at how councils are using arm's-length external organisations in Scotland and the impact they are making.

Dumfries and Galloway Best Value
 

Dumfries and Galloway Council Best Value
We found that the council had made good progress and needed to take this further to meet the challenges it is facing.

Local government: challenges and performance 2019

Statutory reports
Our overview report from March includes a tableau visualisation illustrating data about councils' spending and performance.

 

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: 14 November

Previous meeting: 13 June

Update report by the Secretary to the Commission
Members discussed the issue of cyber security within Audit Scotland, with reassurances from the Controller of Audit that Audit Scotland is investing to ensure the organisation is protected.

Further discussions included how the Accounts Commission can build in the wider implications of the impact of child poverty into their audit work.

Controller of Audit update
A discussion took place regarding loans fund accounting in local councils and issues relating to the European Social Fund.

Community empowerment briefing
A paper was presented following a year-long advisory group led by Audit Scotland on behalf of the Strategic Scrutiny Group.

The purpose of the advisory group was to determine what best practice look like in terms of community empowerment. The group have developed a set of principles to help its shared understanding of what good community empowerment looks like.

The Commission noted it intends to hold further discussion on the topic of community empowerment. The briefing will be published on 18 July.

Read more...

Local government overview report: impact and approach for 2019/20
There were discussions about making changes to the reporting timescales for 2019/20, to ensure the audit team had access to the latest data to inform the report. The Commission agreed this change.

A discussion followed about engagement with local councils around this report and the ways in which councils use the Commission’s twice-yearly overview reports.

Best Value report: Midlothian Council
The Commission questioned the Controller of Audit and the audit team on this report.

Key themes and issues raised in the discussion included: the impact of population growth; financial sustainability; the council’s significant capital investment; relationships between councillors; services and transformation.

In private, the Commission agreed to make findings for this report. The report will be published on 4 July.

Clackmannanshire Council follow up report
Introducing the report, the Controller of Audit stated that this 18 month follow up report was the first if its kind during the new cycle of Best Value Assurance Reports.

The detailed discussion included: the impact of the recently appointed chief executive; that over the last 12 months the council has responded well to the recommendations detailed in the January 2018 report; the pace of change and working with external partners.

In private, the Commission agreed to make findings for this report. The report was published on 27 June.

The Commission then moved into their private session, following a private meeting with the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning.  The Commission discussed findings for both Midlothian and Clackmannanshire Councils, as well as future areas to cover in the next local government overview.

Local government financial overview
Finally, the Commission discussed areas to be covered in the next Local Government financial overview due to be published in early December 2019.

 

Interested in coming to our meetings?

Our meetings are open to the public. Find out how to attend.

 

Who we engage with

The public in general are our principal stakeholder but we engage with a wide range of others. Find out more about who we engage with and what our main activities are.

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