Update on the Auditor General’s work programme
Earlier this year we launched a consultation on the Auditor General’s work programme.
We are using the consultation to help plan an indicative medium-term work programme, including new work that will progress through the rest of 2022-23. Alongside the work programme consultation, we were also developing our new five-year strategy, which we published at the end of June 2022.
During the period from early March to mid-May, we received/collated 47 responses to our work programme consultation. Of these:
- 6 were from NHS bodies;
- 22 were from local government bodies;
- 3 were from central government bodies (including the Welsh Government);
- 10 were from individuals working in local government building control; and
- 6 were from other organisations or individuals.
The feedback on the proposals set out in our consultation document was generally positive, with support expressed for many of the potential areas of work identified although there was wide variety in the specific topics that individual respondents chose to comment on. Understandably, some respondents expressed a desire to understand more about the likely scope and timing of any future work and for us to consider any duplication with the work of other external review bodies.
When we launched our work programme consultation, the impact of the conflict in Ukraine and cost-of-living pressures was only just beginning to emerge and some responses highlighted these issues. Our local government study on tackling poverty, which will report later this year, will provide an opportunity for some initial reflection on cost-of-living pressures. We are also considering how we might best shine an audit lens on the response of devolved public services to the needs of Ukrainian refugees.
Some of the responses we received highlighted topics that we have reported on in previous years, or where we had further work in progress, for example around public services’ cyber-resilience and on the digital agenda more generally in the NHS. We are introducing more systematic arrangements to consider the merits of follow-up work in areas covered by previous reports. We expect that this will result in more regular follow-up commentary in future years, although possibly in a variety of forms.
The responses we received from those working in building control expressed particular concern about the implications for local authorities of the UK Government’s Building Safety Act 2022 and about capacity within the sector. Informed by those responses, we are already planning to take forward work on this topic during the remainder of this year. We have also progressed work to examine the early development of Corporate Joint Committees and on the governance and oversight of National Park Authorities in Wales. Later in the year we will progress work across the 22 principal councils in Wales considering their strategic approach to the digitisation of services.
We will be setting out fuller details about the Auditor General’s medium-term work programme in due course. The shape of the work programme will also be influenced by responses to our recent consultation on fee scales 2023-24 and changes that may flow from it. In that consultation, we set out proposals to change the way some of our work is funded and with a view to this enabling improved flexibility to examine more cross-cutting and whole-system issues. The Welsh Government has also launched a consultation on extending the coverage of the well-being duty under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 [opens in new window], which has potential implications for the design of the Auditor General’s work programme.