New chairman appointed to close down the Audit Commission

Published 19 September 2012

Jeremy Newman will be the new Chairman of the Audit Commission in the lead up to its abolition, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announced today.

From the start of next month Mr Newman will take over the role of leading the Commission to an effective and efficient closedown, and overseeing the delivery of its reduced functions in the run up to closure. He succeeds the current Chairman, Michael O'Higgins. His appointment follows a formal recruitment process and approval from the Communities and Local Government Select Committee following a pre-appointment hearing.

The full programme of reforms to local audit and inspection, and the closure of the Commission, will bring in a more localist approach and are expected to save £650million in public money over the next five years.

Eric Pickles said:

"I am pleased to announce the appointment of Jeremy Newman as new Chairman of the Audit Commission. Jeremy brings significant knowledge of audit and a proven track record of delivery, which will be essential as he oversees the Commission's closure and the smooth transfer to the new local audit regime."

The Government announced its intention to close the Audit Commission in August 2010. The Commission's work on Comprehensive Area Assessment and routine inspections has already ceased, and the work of its in-house audit practice outsourced to the private sector. A draft bill containing proposals for the future audit regime was published in July 2012. In the future, councils will be free to appoint their own independent external auditors from a more competitive and open market and there will be a new audit framework for local health bodies.

Notes to editors

1. Jeremy Newman is a chartered accountant by profession and the former Chief Executive (2008-2011) of BDO International and prior to that was managing partner (2001-2008) of BDO's UK firm. Following his appearance at a pre-appointment hearing, the Communities and Local Government Select Committee confirmed him as a suitable candidate for post. They were "impressed with the breadth of his experience within the financial audit sector and his enthusiasm for helping to deliver a new framework for local government audit".

2. The Chairman is appointed by the Secretary of State under the Audit Commission Act 1998 part 1, 1 (3). He will be paid £30,000 a year and serve for six days a month. This is a significant reduction on the previous Chair's pay of £90,487.

3. Appointments to the Audit Commission are regulated by the Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments. The Department for Communities and Local Government advertised for a Chairman throughout June 2012 and interviewed on 26 July 2012. The selection process followed the process set out in the code issued by the Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments. The code can be found at: http://publicappointmentscommissioner.independent.gov.uk/the-code-of-practice (external link).

4. DCLG published a draft bill on 6 July 2012 and is currently consulting on the proposed new audit framework for local public bodies, the process for the appointment of auditors, and the regulatory framework for local public audit. The consultation can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/draftlocalauditbill.


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