Article 3: Long-term plan preparedness

Local government: Results of the 2009/10 audits.

From our discussions with many local authorities, we are aware that the preparation of the 2012-22 long-term plans is already under way. We are also in preparation mode as we consider the appropriate level of audit fees, and review our audit methodology for the 2012-22 long-term plan.

We are updating our audit methodology to reflect the results of our internal debrief after the 2009-19 LTCCP audits and the changes arising from the TAFM reforms. Overall, we consider that the current methodology is a sound basis for auditing the 2012-22 long-term plan. The review will result in some aspects being refined, leading to less audit work being required, and other aspects being strengthened.

As you start to prepare your 2012-22 long-term plan, you should consider our findings reported in Matters arising from the 2009-19 long-term council community plans. There are three key areas where we would like local authorities to continue to seek improvement in their planning documents.

Financial strategy

As noted in the TAFM article, we found that in the 2009-19 LTCCPs many local authorities did not present and explain financial strategies clearly enough to help communities provide informed input. In our view, a local authority’s financial strategy should be presented to the community as a major issue. The TAFM reform includes a requirement for specific disclosures about the financial strategy of each local authority in the long-term plan. We support this requirement.

Continual improvement of asset management information

We expect local authorities to continue to improve their asset management plans and the related information about their assets. Good asset management planning is needed to produce reliable plans and estimates, and for the community to gain confidence that their local authority will continue to deliver the services they require and use their assets sustainably.

Long-term plan summaries

We also encourage you to plan for the preparation of your long-term plan summaries. The long-term plan summary is a key document to engage the community in debate about the choices available to it and the implications of those choices.

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