Last week Prospect Deputy Secretary, Dai Hudd, and Vice Chairman of the Audit Commission, Chris Round, gave evidence to the Communities and Local Government select committee to discuss the future of the Audit Commission. When asked about the possibility of mutualisation they were interestingly positive, citing that 83 percent of Prospect’s members were in favour of an employee owned practice.

“We would look at a mutual provided there was significant stakeholder involvement of the people who work in the audit commission,” Hudd said. “[This] could present a package that would respond to the criticism of the audit commission.”

In September, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles said that the government would be supportive of mutualisation with the intention of having arrangements in place from 2012-13.

“We will now work closely with local government, the health sector, the Commission, the accounting profession and other partners to complete the detailed design of the new arrangements,” he said.

Prospect referred to a lack of government support for preventing them from going forward with research on mutualisation.

“The biggest problem we have though is the uncertainty,” Round said. “We can be very supportive of a mutual, but we don’t know what the audit regime is going to be or whether the government is going to be supportive of it in the first place. If it’s going to happen, some decision needs to be made urgently. At the moment staff are in limbo.”

If Eric Pickles and his department are serious they could start taking in more expert advice and best practice examples of successful mutualisations. When Labour Co-op MP Andy Love asked “what steps [Pickles’] Department is taking to develop a mutual model for the Audit Commission” he received a response lacking in any form of government commitment. Key questions of benefits to all levels of staff and structure still need to be answered.