Accounts and Audit Regulations
The 2003 regulations
were amended in 2011, compelling councils and police authorities
to post online alerts
to local taxpayers and voters, informing them of their rights
to inspect and copy contracts, expenses claims, invoices and
documents authorising payments.
Regulation 10 requires principal councils and police bodies
(from March 2011) to place a copy of the statutory newspaper
notice on the authority's own website,
at least 14 days
before the public may examine the documents and files.
to provide online details of the dates for the public inspection
(plus the location and types of files, the times for inspection,
details of the external auditor and rights to raise questions
and objections) renders the authority open to judicial
review, and the risk of the
authority having to re-run the public inspection process.
The 2003 regulations were also amended in 2009, compelling councils
and police authorities to disclose (for the first time in 2010)
payments to highest earning
Regulation 7 required councils and police authorities to attach
a note to the accounts, giving details of (total) amounts paid
to any council chief executive or chief constable receiving
more than £150,000
per annum, in several sub-categories.
These are: (1) salary, fees and allowances;
(2) bonuses; (3) expenses; (4) severance payments; (5) pensions,
and; (6) any other financial benefits.
This rule covers those senior officers classed as 'head of paid
service', 'statutory chief officer' or 'chief constable' or
any other senior police officer above the rank of superintendent
whose total financial remuneration exceeds £150,000 per
The 2009 regulation required councils and police authorities
to list (by job title but not by name) all employees
receiving more than £50,000
Councils and police authorities were permitted (in 2010 only)
to withold details of payments to chief constables and chief
executives, providing the relevant employment contracts contained
valid confidentiality clauses, in force before 1 April 2010.
The regulations therefore discourage any new confidentiality
deals being struck after 1
April 2010, for staff earning more than £150,000 (or an
equivalent pro-rata income for part-time senior officers, worth
more than £50,000 per annum).
The 2009 regulations (which have now been revoked) made it clear
that councils and police authorities were not to treat elected
councillors as 'employees',
and thereby deny taxpayers access to expenses claims or other
financial payments to elected councillors.
Since this provision has been revoked, and does not reappear
in the 2011 regulations, the position is now unclear as to whether
councils and police authorities may treat elected politicians
as 'employees' given that they receive special allowances and
However, the Local Government Act 2000 (as amended) requires
councils to keep copies of expenses
claims and payments to councillors
available in a public register, free
of charge, all year round.
The regulations (as amended) set the period of public inspection
of the accounts to 20 working days. Local authorities must give
14 (working) days' notice of the inspection period. These provisions
continue under the 2011 regulations.
Regulation 23 of the 2011 instrument restricts councils from
any accounts and documents, without the knowledge or consent
of the external auditor, once the public inspection period is
The 2003 Statutory Instrument made it an offence
for anyone to breach these regulations. Unfortunately, the 2011
regulations have repealed that powerful sanction and deterrent,
with the result that councils and police authorities are effectively
immune from prosecution if they fail to comply with the law.
But it remains an offence under the 1998 Audit Commission Act
for an official to obstruct a local taxpayer or voter attempting
to engage his/her legal rights to examine and copy the accounts.
Department for Communities and Local Government has a search
engine to enable taxpayers
and voters to locate details of all council
threshold, but this is available for England alone.
Click to the
DCLG page here.
Details of payments
to council and police authority staff earning in excess of £50,000
per annum are available in
the relevant authorities' annual statements of accounts.
All of the material, including detailed contracts,
listed in the table above are available during the statutory
This takes place for 20 working
days (England, Wales and Northern
Ireland) between the end of the relevant local government financial
year (beginning of April) and the completion of the annual audit
process (usually end of September).
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