The Association of Local Authority Risk Managers (Alarm) and District Auditor (DA) are set to improve risk management by English and Welsh councils with a guide for public sector auditors.

The guide will help auditors assess local authorities' risk management processes, including whether they have embedded the processes in management practice, how they identify risks, and their employer and public liability and insurance arrangements.

DA audit manager Graham Parry said many local authorities could improve their processes, thus saving funds.

DA is the biggest and oldest provider of public sector auditing, which it does for about 700 local councils and health authorities.

"It's our duty to assess how well-audited bodies are managing significant business risk and the work we're doing with Alarm will help us guide our clients in an area that's becoming increasingly important," Parry said.

The joint venture's first phase will be a survey of councils to set benchmarks for risk management issues and to identify good practice. The guide will be finished next year, after trials with selected authorities.

Alarm chairman Kevin McGlone said the guide was an exciting venture that would reap dividends for councils over the next few years.

Alarm's south-east regional conference was held at the Latimer Conference Centre in Buckinghamshire on November 9 and 10 and attended by more than 100 delegates.

At the conference, London Borough of Newham chief executive Dave Burbage said it was important to embed risk management into management practices as demands on council continued to grow.

"In years to come, when there are more constraints and pressures on resouces, to get the most out of them, it'll all be about taking risks, but in a well-managed way," said Burbage.

Newham is Council of the Year 2000.