Brief overview of the limited assurance regime

Smaller Authorities' Audit Appointments Ltd (SAAA) is the independent company created to procure external audit services for smaller authorities from 2017/18. SAAA appointed auditors, under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, to all local government smaller authorities who are subject to the limited assurance regime, those being:

  • Local councils (including parish/town/village/community councils and parish meetings)
  • Internal drainage boards (IDBs)
  • 'Other' smaller authorities (i.e. charter trustees, port health authorities, conservation bodies, harbour boards and crematorium boards)

For bodies with income or expenditure of below £6.5 million per annum (known as smaller authorities), SAAA operates a limited assurance regime. The regime is designed to provide a level of assurance at a cost proportionate to the amounts of public money managed by these smaller authorities.

Under the limited assurance regime, auditors undertake a limited range of specified procedures to give a report that provides limited, rather than reasonable, assurance about the accounting statements i.e. it does not constitute an audit under the Audit Regulations 2013 and this is why we do not generally require any backing documentation to be submitted to us.

Regulatory Framework 

Statutory audit appointments are subject to the NAO Code of Audit Practice 2015 and the relevant Auditor Guidance Note (AGN02), also issued by the NAO, which sets out the approach to be adopted for the limited assurance review of smaller authorities and indicates that we are not in a position to provide accounting advice to smaller authorities.

There are 3 types of review procedures – namely exempt, basic and intermediate.