Ernst & Young has written a letter to the chief finance officers at six councils to let them know that the firm will be late in starting its audits and therefore the authorities will hit the July 31 deadline without having their accounts being given assurance.
This is the first time the accountancy firm is doing the audits for the councils after they all opted into a bulk procurement scheme offered by the Public Sector Audit Appointments organisation, a not-for-profit set up by the Local Government Association after the Audit Commission was abolished.
The letter from Ernst & Young Associate partner Neil Harris to the councils of Wellingborough, East Northants, Kettering, East Northants, South Northamptonshire, Corby and Daventry says: “As your auditors we try to conduct our work in as timely a manner as possible, having regard to your responsibilities. Unfortunately we are experiencing staff turnover challenges in recruting new staff, which affect the audit timetable.
“To ensure you receive the best quality audit from EY, we are proposing an alternative timetable for your 2018/19 audit.”
Mr Harris says the audits will start in August and a revised reporting timetable will be given.
A spokesman for Wellingborough Council said: “The council is currently in the process of agreeing revised audit dates during August and September to conclude the audit as early after the end of July as possible.
“The council will still issue their accounts at the end of July, meeting their statutory obligations, but with the audit opinion to follow, stating this was due to the external auditor’s lack of staff capacity to deliver the audit by this date and through no fault of the council.
“The council opted into the Public Sector Audit Appointments central procurement process and the 2018/19 audit is the start of the new five-year contract for which EY were awarded a considerable number of audits across the UK.”