Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO, said:
“Statutory provisions for reporting require the effective publication of unaudited financial statements by 31 May 2023. As a professional accounting institute, CIPFA will always recognise the statutory nature of the deadline.
“However, some senior leaders in local government finance have told us the 31 May deadline will not be achievable without considerable risk to their organisations and their professional standing.
“Many are concerned about the wellbeing of teams who have worked hard to deal with a difficult budget setting process and are now facing the challenge of producing accounts against the backdrop of significant and continuing audit delays. These delays present chief financial officers with gaps in the assurance processes which make exercising professional judgement about a true and fair position more difficult.
“CIPFA recognises the significant challenges CFOs and their finance teams are facing and we would encourage senior leaders to take a considered and transparent approach. Sensible steps would be to ensure conversations have taken place with key stakeholders such as senior members, the chair of audit committee (or equivalent), the chief executive and monitoring officer and any other interested parties. Clarity about the reasons for any decisions about publication of the unaudited financial statements will allow members and others to monitor the situation, maintaining appropriate transparency and accountability over the process.
“It is important that all those involved understand the reality that a balance is struck between the timeliness and the quality of unaudited financial statements produced in the coming weeks.”
NOTES TO EDITOR:
Statutory provisions for reporting under the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 require local authorities to publish unaudited financial statements by 31 May 2023.
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