Southwark Council wins CIPFA Cliff Nicholson Award


Cutting edge audit work carried out by Southwark Council has been recognised in a national award scheme by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). The council’s finance team won this year’s prestigious Cliff Nicholson Award for Innovation and Excellence in Public Service Audit.

Southwark Council received the award for its work targeting social housing fraud in 2012/13. The council is London’s largest social landlord. In 2012 it developed a strategic approach to tackle the fraud, setting a high target of recovering 300 properties. By the end of the financial year, Southwark had exceeded its target, recovering 322 properties that could be used to shorten their council housing waiting list. Although Southwark’s housing stock makes up just 1% of the total nationally, the 322 properties were the equivalent of 17% of the total recovered across the country the previous year.

A high commendation also went to Mersey Internal Audit Agency which developed an innovative approach to assess the high level governance arrangements of a healthcare charity providing services to the NHS. The approach can be used across sectors and should be very useful for commissioners seeking assurances for the services they commission.

Southwark Council, having received plaudits from the Chartered Institute of Housing, Audit Commission, National Fraud Agency and now CIPFA, has set itself an even more challenging target of recovering 500 properties in the current financial year.

Tim Crowley, Chair of CIPFA’s Audit Panel, commented,

“The high calibre of entries for this year’s award underlines the important role that effective audit can play in the public sector. The approach that has been developed by Southwark Council can be replicated elsewhere and this kind of innovation is a shining example of how the finance function can contribute to driving up standards despite public sector cuts.”

Cllr Richard Livingstone, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources at Southwark Council, commented,

“We’ve been really pleased with our success to date in tackling tenancy fraud, but it’s particularly special to receive this recognition from CIPFA with such a prestigious award. Our fraud team deserves to be singled out for its energetic approach to finding fraudulent tenants and making sure that every council home in Southwark goes to someone who really needs it.”



CIPFA Press Office

T: 020 7543 5600


Notes to editors:

  • The award was founded by Cliff Nicholson, CIPFA President in 1990, who passed away in 2011.  At the end of his presidential year, he established the eponymous award to encourage the development of the audit profession and recognise outstanding work in the field of audit. Cliff had a distinguished career in public services for over 40 years, most of that time in local government audit and was awarded a CBE for his contribution to the audit profession in 1986.
  • CIPFA’s Audit Conference is taking place in York on the 22 and 23 May.


CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. Our 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed. As the world’s only professional accountancy body to specialise in public services, CIPFA’s portfolio of qualifications are the foundation for a career in public finance. They include the benchmark professional qualification for public sector accountants as well as a postgraduate diploma for people already working in leadership positions. They are taught by our in-house CIPFA Education and Training Centre as well as other places of learning around the world. We also champion high performance in public services, translating our experience and insight into clear advice and practical services. They include information and guidance, courses and conferences, property and asset management solutions, consultancy and interim people for a range of public sector clients. Globally, CIPFA shows the way in public finance by standing up for sound public financial management and good governance. We work with donors, partner governments, accountancy bodies and the public sector around the world to advance public finance and support better public services. This includes the development of local professional qualifications in African countries like Lesotho and Nigeria and in Europe in post conflict states in the Balkans.