There is a limited time for objecting to the accounts and asking an external auditor to provide a report in the public interest. It is called the “period for the exercise of public rights” and the Council must advertise when it is on its website. The period lasts 30 working days and usually occurs in June, July or August. The 30 day period must include a common period of inspection during which all councils’ accounts are available to inspect. This will be 1-14 July 2016 for the 2015-16 accounts.
You must be a local elector to ask the external auditor for a public interest report. If you prefer not to take action alone, you can ask someone else to represent you, who does not have to be a local elector.
On receipt of the report the Council must:
- call a public meeting to consider the report
- respond publicly, usually within a month
The auditor can also send the report to anyone he thinks should be informed on the issue, including the media and other local or national public bodies.
If the auditor decided not to proceed with the report in the public interest you cannot appeal that decision.
You must send a notice in writing to the external auditor and a copy to the Council. You should be able to find the name and the address of the auditor and of the Council on the Council’s website.
The notice must include:
- why you are objecting to the accounts
- details of the items you are objecting too
- A request for the external auditor to produce a public interest report.
What can you ask the external auditor to do regarding LOBO loans?
What you can object to will depend on the type of debt of your Council. If you would like to make an objection, do get in touch with Debt Resistance UK and we can help you formulate the notice.
Here are some cases:
- A report in the public interest to investigate if LOBO Loans were benchmarked against PWLB when they were taken out and how this was done.
- A report in the public interest to investigate the conflict of interest between brokerage and advisory roles in the selling of LOBO loans.
- A report in the public interest to investigate the current affordability of the LOBO loans.
- A report in the public interest to investigate the risk and affordability of holding reserves for possible early repayments of LOBO loans.
Source: National Audit Office