Please pull the other one – because auditors do not compete

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I listened to local government minister Bob Neill on the Today programme this morning claiming that abolishing the Audit Commission would save cost because of the competition this would introduce into the local authority audit market.

The man is talking complete nonsense. The “competition” will come from the Big 4.

As Prof Prem Sikka has noted:

Companies and major accountancy firms are increasingly willing to increase their profits through indulgence in price fixing, tax avoidance/evasion, bribery, corruption, money laundering and practices that show scant regard for social norms and even laws.

Are these the people to engage in such “competition”?

And when a major part of the role of these auditors is to address both efficiency and corruption do we really want firms who have all been either fined or investigated for abusive practices such as assisting tax evasion to be engaged in this market?

I don’t.

I can’t see why anyone else would.

And i don’t believe they’ll save us a penny.