Reading through the papers for the Audit Committee I noticed in the Annual Audit Letter the fees charged by Grant Thornton. In addition to the Annual Audit Fee of £373,500, Grant Thornton have billed Barnet an extra £30,400 to "deal with questions and objections from electors". Given that this represents 8% of their fee to audit the entire council it seems like rather a lot to me. In the certification fees analysis it states that the hourly rate for the Engagement Lead (the most senior staff member) was £325/hour. If audit is carried out on the same basis that suggest that dealing with questions and objections took up 93.5 hours of the most senior person's time or two and a half weeks full time.
Part of me wonders if this figure was highlighted on purpose to try and stifle future debate on future audits or perhaps that is the cynic coming out in me.Either way it will not stop me closely examining the accounts and if necessary asking tough questions of the auditor. Perhaps if the Barnet took an more open approach to residents many of these questions would not be necessary in the first place.