Sykes warns of ‘more red tape and wasted cash’ as councils brace for £75 million increase in audit fees

Oldham’s Liberal Democrats have warned that Oldham Council could face “more red tape and wasted cash” after it was announced that councils across the country are to be hit with an additional £75 million audit fee.

Liberal Democrat Leader and Shaw representative councillor Howard Sykes MBE said, “Bureaucracy is one thing Oldham Council does not need more of. This audit price hike is particularly unwelcome given the current cost-of-living crisis. It amounts to more red tape and wasted cash that will do nothing to alleviate the pressures that councils face in funding frontline services.

Howard Sykes at the former Crompton Baths site

“Councils should be focusing on the basics, like finding and funding highly skilled social workers and helping people with the cost-of-living crisis. Instead, we will see councils across Greater Manchester struggle to plug budget gaps caused by bureaucrats and it will be those frontline services – like social care – that suffer.”

Councillor Sykes’s warning comes after Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) said total fees for audit services may increase by as much as 150% from £50m in 2022-23 to £125m in 2023-24.

Councillor Sykes said, “Additional audit fees will take money away from frontline services. We cannot afford for more and more council resources to be tied up in red tape. The new Chancellor has the opportunity to fix local government finance and give councils the ability to focus on local services at a time when people need help.”

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