Accounts Commission annual report 2020/21
Annual report 2020/21
This report outlines the Accounts Commission’s work in 2020/21 across Scottish local government. This includes councils, health and social care integration joint boards and performance audits on significant themes across Scotland.Download the full annual report969Kb - PDF
Our 2020/21 annual report outlines our work over the last 12 months.
Over the period covered by this report we have seen councils adapt and repurpose their services to support their residents in many different ways, working with local partners with speed and flexibility. Our report looks back at our annual audit, Best Value and national performance audit work. Our auditors have continued to produce work to the highest professional standards, providing insight to councils to support improvement, share learning and prepare for the significant recovery that will be required in the coming months and years.
Elma Murray. Interim Chair of the Accounts Commission
Download the report for full statement
Impact of Covid-19
2020 was the most challenging year we have faced but our annual audit work in councils and other local government bodies has continued to be the foundation for everything we do. Despite the restrictions put in place to manage Covid-19, all annual audits were published by the end of March 2021.
An overview of our national performance audits in 2020/21
Good progress has been made towards the Scottish Government’s ambitious target to deliver 50,000 new affordable homes by March 2021, but serious risks remain.
Risks include a lack of capacity in both construction and council planning services, uncertainty of future funding, and lack of access to suitable land.
The value of outstanding overpayments in Scotland had increased by 20 per cent between 2015/16 and 2018/19, to £152 million.
Councils are not using all available options to recover housing benefit overpayments.
In response to Covid-19, the Department for Work and Pensions implemented emergency measures and policy changes.
Councils are at different stages of digital transformation.
The pace of change has increased as digital technologies have played a vital role in the response to Covid-19.
Clear vision and leadership, with workforce and community engagement, are essential for realising the benefits of digital transformation.
Progress on closing the poverty-related attainment gap between the most and least deprived school pupils has been limited.
There are large variations in local authority performance, with evidence of worsening performance on some indicators in some councils.
More evidence and better data are needed to understand educational achievement beyond exams.
Best Value Assurance Reports in individual councils
Councils have a duty to demonstrate Best Value in how they deliver services, use public money, and improve as organisations. The Commission prepares a Best Value Assurance Report (BVAR) on every council as part of a five-year cycle to review councils’ progress. We meet in public to consider these reports and decide what action to take.
The Accounts Commission members are appointed by Scottish ministers.
The Commission meets monthly and its meetings are open to the public.