By Mark Roberts, Senior Manager, Audit Scotland
It’s now less than six months until the UK leaves the European Union. The nature of the UK’s departure remains uncertain and the subject of ongoing and intense debate. Critical negotiations between the UK and the European Union are ongoing. Irrespective of the outcome of those negotiations, leaving the EU will represent a major change for Scotland.Considerable uncertainty remains around both immediate and long-term political, economic and social implications of withdrawal from the EU. This uncertainty comes at the same time as the Scottish Parliament is gaining new devolved financial powers. These powers give Scotland much greater control over its finances but will make public sector budgets much more dependent on Scotland’s economic performance. In addition, there are ongoing reform programmes across the public sector, continuing financial pressures and rising demands and expectations of public services. Together, all these factors represent a major challenge for the public sector that will likely extend long into the next decade.
At Audit Scotland, we’re interested in what withdrawal from the EU will mean for the organisations we audit, the people they employ, the work they do and for the Scottish public sector as a whole. Today, we’ve published a brief paper highlighting the key audit issues that we think EU withdrawal presents for the public sector. This will support auditors in their ongoing conversations with audited bodies about the impact of withdrawal from the EU. The paper includes a series of questions that public bodies may want to ask themselves about the implications of withdrawal from the EU for them.
We’re conscious that the effects of withdrawal from the EU will be very different in different organisations and the extent of preparations varies significantly, and we’ll be looking at that as part of our 2018/19 audits and in some of our forthcoming performance audits.