The Auditor General has presented the Audit Wales Annual Plan for 2021-22. As the public sector in Wales continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, this document outlines our priorities for the next 12 months.
Audit plays a vital role in providing the public, politicians, decision-makers and influencers with the information and assurance they need about how well public money is being spent. This is even more important in these extraordinary times as we see huge pressures on public services, high levels of risk and uncertainty, and substantial increases in public expenditure. Our audit work programme will reflect this.
We have previously identified four broad ambitions which describe the path we are taking towards reaching our full potential as a driver of change and improvement at the heart of public services. In this Plan, we have summarised the main factors that will influence the way we fulfil these ambitions and deliver our programmes of work over the next year. These include the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the implications of Brexit, the declared climate emergency, socio-economic challenges, and increased digitisation of services.
In response, we have identified several areas of focus for our audit work and our running of the business in 2021-22. Alongside our key performance indicators, progress made in these areas will be closely monitored and scrutinised by the Board and Executive Leadership Team throughout the year.
Auditor General, Adrian Crompton said today:
“From our engagement throughout the last year, we have seen how public sector bodies have risen to the challenge of the pandemic. Colleagues across the public service have gone above and beyond their normal duties to keep services going and to keep the people of Wales safe. On behalf of Audit Wales, we would like to record our continued thanks and admiration for this incredible effort and commitment.
Though the roll-out of the vaccination programme gives us hope of some light at the end of the tunnel, we are conscious that current pressures are extreme and frontline services must be prioritised. The approach of Audit Wales in 2021-22 remains, therefore, to deliver our statutory responsibilities in ways which are sensitive to the pressures that services are under. We will keep a degree of flexibility within our 2021-22 programmes of work to enable this and to allow us to respond to emerging developments.”
Chair of the Wales Audit Office, Lindsay Foyster, said today:
“Our own resources have been stretched over the last 12 months, as staff have worked entirely remotely while juggling the impact of the pandemic and the demands of caring, home-schooling, and other responsibilities. We are indebted to all Audit Wales staff for their professionalism, hard work and commitment to public service through these challenging times.
In 2021-22, we will keep our delivery approaches and methodologies under review. In shaping a new way of working for the future, we will build on the adaptations outlined in our recent Interim Report, so as to capture and keep some of the positive changes we have seen during the pandemic.”