The coalition government is continuing to pursue its 'localism' agenda by announcing plans to dismantle the Audit Commission. The commission's powers - which have often been a source of controversy for the Fire and Rescue Service - will be decentralised and shifted to the private sector.
A spokesperson for the department of Communities and Local Government said: " The Audit Commission's responsibilities for delivering local audit and inspections will stop. The Commission's research activities will end. Councils will be free to appoint their own independent external auditors from a more competitive and open market."
The move comes as part of a raft of measures, aimed, according to the government, at giving power back to local communities via what has been termed 'democratic accountability'. It is also hoped that the end of the Audit commission will save the taxpayer £50 million a year.
"Ministers believe that the work of the Commission has increasingly become less focussed of accountability to citizens and more on reporting upwards to government, judging services largely against top-down government-imposed targets."
To quote the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles: "The corporate centre of the Audit Commission has lost its way. Rather than being a watchdog that champions tax-payers' interests, it has become the creature of a Whitehall state.
He continued: "These proposed changes go hand-in-hand with plans to create an army of armchair auditors - local people able to hold local bodies to account."