COST CUTTING is at the forefront of the Audit Commission's annual report 2010/11, which covers the period in which the Comprehensive Area Assessment was axed, following by the commission itself.

December saw a "major transformation programme completed", the public audit provider claimed, with more than 400 redundancies made and more on the way. Of these, 22 were senior management axed after the commission moved from a regional to a national structure, creating a saving of £4m.

The commission emphasised savings passed back to local authorities and its effectiveness in continuing to win NHS trust audits in the face of private sector competition, "despite the uncertainty over its future".

Operating costs were cut by £32m, thanks in part to the closure of 25 local offices. Almost £3.5m audit fees were rebated and the scale of audit fees was reduced for 2011/12, especially for local government, health and community safety.

Chairman Michael O'Higgins (pictured) said the body is "proud" of its achievements, noting its success at absorbing the costs of the forthcoming closure while continuing to provide high-quality audit.

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