(1) what assessment she has made of the effect on costs for local authorities of the Audit Commission's new fees structure; and what funding her Department will be giving to local authorities under the new burdens principle in relation to Audit Commission fees;
(2) pursuant to the answer of 18 December 2007, Official Report, column 1299W, on Audit Commission: fees and charges, what estimate she has made of the audit fees for 2008-09 in (a) absolute terms and (b) as a percentage of those costs in 2007-08 for (i) a district council, (ii) a London borough, (iii) a unitary council, (iv) a metropolitan council and (v) a county council.
The Audit Commission is responsible for setting the fees for audit in the local government and housing sector. Its consultation paper—'Proposed work programme and scales of fees 2008-09 and indicative fee proposals for 2009-10 and 2010-11' set out details of potential average audit fees.
The Commission expect to take the final decision on audit fees for 2008-09 in March. Over the next three years, as the rolling programme of corporate assessments is replaced with comprehensive area assessment, with its focus on outcomes, there will be a significant overall reduction in the total costs of regulation. The Government are committed to ensuring that the net new burdens that it places on local government are fully funded.