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Editor's blog Wednesday 19 January 2011: Audit Commission times its punches - Barking, Havering and Redbridge report released

I suppose if you were about to abolish me, I might unleash a sense of mischief in my timing. The Audit Commission faces abolition. And has on the morning of the Health and Social Care Bill's introduction to Parliament, released its report that Barking, Havering and Redbridge has failed to meet its statutory duty.

The AC press release is copied below.

Audit Commission PR 2472 19/01/2011 [For Immediate Release]

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust has failed to meet its statutory financial duty

The appointed auditor of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (the Trust) has issued a report in the public interest today. The report, issued under Section 8 of the Audit Commission Act (commonly known as a public interest report), shows that the Trust failed to meet its statutory financial duty to achieve cumulative breakeven over the five year period ending 31 March 2010.

The purpose of this report is to bring the Trust’s financial standing to the attention of the public and to seek the Trust’s response to:
* its failure to meet its statutory financial duties;
* the seriousness of its current financial position; and
* the action that it now needs to take to improve its financial position and meet its statutory financial duties on a sustainable basis.

Jon Hayes, district auditor and author of the report, said:
‘The Trust has consistently struggled to deliver agreed saving plans and there is not an embedded culture which recognises the importance of financial management. The Trust will need to work with local partners to achieve a sustainable improvement in its financial position.’

The report made a series of recommendations including:
* reviewing the existing recovery plan to ensure that is it realistically addresses the need to recover the Trust’s cumulative deficit over an agreed period of time;
* delivering agreed savings plans in line with agreed timetables; and
* managing the cash position during the recovery period.

The appointed auditor will continue to monitor the Trust’s progress.

Copies of the report are available from Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital NHS Trust or on the Audit Commission website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk/pir


Notes to editors

External audit provides accountability for public money. It makes an important contribution to the stewardship of public resources and the corporate governance of public services.

The duties and powers of auditors appointed by the Audit Commission are set out in the Audit Commission Act 1998 [and the Local Government Act 1999 – LG version only] and the Commission's statutory Code of Audit Practice. Under the Code of Audit Practice, appointed auditors are also required to comply with the current professional standards issued by the independent Auditing Practices Board.

Appointed auditors act separately from the Commission. In meeting their statutory responsibilities they are required to exercise their professional judgement independently of both the Commission and the audited body. Auditors may report aspects of their work widely to the public and other key stakeholders.

The Audit Commission is an independent watchdog, driving economy, efficiency and effectiveness in local public services to deliver better outcomes for everyone.

Our work across local government, health, housing, community safety and fire and rescue services means that we have a unique perspective. We promote value for money for taxpayers.

On 13 August 2010 the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government announced that he plans to disband the Audit Commission. His intention is to have new arrangements in place for auditing England's public bodies by 2012/13.

For more details about the role of the Audit Commission visit www.audit-commission.gov.uk