Guide to the Legislation
The rules governing the public's rights to view and copy local authority files are profiled in this section.

England

The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014
BRIEFING ORIGINAL

The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 (England)
BRIEFING ORIGINAL

The Local Audit (Public Access to Documents) Act 2017
BRIEFING ORIGINAL

Wales

The Accounts and Audit (Wales) Regulations 2014
BRIEFING ORIGINAL

Scotland

The Local Authority Accounts
(Scotland) Regulations 2014
BRIEFING ORIGINAL

Northern Ireland

The Local Government (Accounts and Audit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015
BRIEFING ORIGINAL

Links to Council Websites
LOCAL AUTHORITY WEBSITES: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT LINKS

LOCAL AUTHORITY WEBSITES: PUBLIC NOTICES OF AUDIT INSPECTIONS
It's Your Right to Know


Download our handy PPT presentation here


The Local Authority Accounts
(Scotland) Regulations 2014




The accounts and supporting documents of a Scottish local authority are available for public inspection on more generous (albeit shorter) terms than in England and Wales.

Councils north of the border are not entitled to restrict access or withhold data from the accounts, on the basis of protecting "commercial confidentiality" with private contractors.

But residents, taxpayers and journalists north of the border have less time to exercise their public inspection rights - and (unlike in England and Wales) journalists interested in viewing documents must live in the area to access the records.

Regulation 9(4) requires a council to make the books, deeds, contracts, vouchers, bills which make up the accounts of the previous financial year available for inspecton and copying for just
15 working days.

The law in Scotland differs from other parts of the UK in that local electors and taxpayers are also under a strict
time limit for lodging formal objections to any items of expenditure.

'Interested persons have until one working day after the inspection period has finished in which to raise
objections to the auditor. In England and Wales, formal objections can be made up until the formal closure of the accounts.

The timing of the public inspection period is a matter for the auditor, but regulation 9(5) is worded so that it must start on or before
1 July each year. Councils are required to give 14 calendar days' notice (online) of the inspection period.

Residents, taxpayers and journalists in Scotland enjoy other advantages over their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.

Regulation 9(4)(c) makes it clear that councils are not permitted to charge any
fee for allowing residents, taxpayers or journalists to make copies of documents.

This is in marked contrast to practice by a minority of English local authorities which attempt to levy a copying charge on documents requested by local taxpayers.

Local authorities in Scotland must publish the names and job titles of senior employees who received at least £150,000, and the total numbers of staff who received £50,000 or more, in incremental bands of £5,000.

Unlike the position in England and Wales, the names and job titles of any senior officer must be published with their salary, regardless of the amount, if the officer was employed in a "politically restricted" role or if his/her role enabled him/her to "direct" and manage the "major activities" of the council.

For further guidance, contact ONB.


Key Court Rulings



The Veolia and Nottinghamshire County Council court cases (2009/10)
BRIEFING ORIGINAL

The ONB and Lincolnshire County Council court hearing (2005)
BRIEFING  

The HTV and Bristol City Council court case (2004)
BRIEFING  

Exernal Reference Materials
DCLG GUIDE TO CHECKING COUNCIL EXPENDITURE

NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE GUIDE TO CHECKING COUNCIL EXPENDITURE

AUDIT SCOTLAND GUIDE TO CHECKING COUNCIL EXPENDITURE

AUDIT WALES GUIDE TO CHECKING COMMUNITY COUNCIL EXPENDITURE

AUDIT NORTHERN IRELAND GUIDE TO CHECKING COUNCIL EXPENDITURE

THE PUBLIC SECTOR AUDIT APPOINTMENTS BOARD