§ Miss Geraldine Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps the Government take to regulate the size of audit fees for small village councils. 
§ Ms Beverley Hughes
The setting of audit fees in respect of the audit of accounts is a statutory responsibility of the independent Audit Commission under Section 7 of the Audit Commission Act 1998. The Secretary of State has no powers to direct an auditor or the Audit Commission on the conduct of an audit.
The Commission is aware of the burden that audit costs can impose on small parish councils and have introduced measures designed to reduce fees. Parish Council audit fees are charged at a rate that is 40% of that charged for principal authorities. Parishes with an income below £5,000 per annum can reduce the burden further by adopting the 'triennial scheme' which allows three annual audits to be undertaken together to save on the overheads associated with an audit.