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Audit, Governance and Standards Committee

17 January 2022

 

External Auditorís Progress Report and Sector Update

 

Final Decision-Maker

Audit, Governance and Standards Committee

Lead Head of Service

Mark Green, Director of Finance and Business Improvement

Lead Officer and Report Author

Ellie Dunnet, Head of Finance

Classification

Public

Wards affected

All

 

Executive Summary

 

The report from Grant Thornton, attached at Appendix 1 provides the committee with an update on progress with the audit of the 2020/21 financial statements and offers a summary of emerging national issues and developments of relevance to the local government sector.† †

 

Purpose of Report

 

Noting.

 

 

This report makes the following recommendations to this Committee:

1.   That the external auditorís progress report and sector update, attached at Appendix 1 be noted.

 

 

Timetable

Meeting

Date

Audit, Governance and Standards Committee

17 January 2022



External Auditorís Progress Report and Sector Update

 

1.       CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES AND IMPLICATIONS

 

 

Issue

Implications

Sign-off

Impact on Corporate Priorities

We do not expect the recommendations will by themselves materially affect achievement of corporate priorities. However, they will support the Councilís overall achievement of its aims in demonstrating accountability and value for money.

Director of

Finance and

Business

Improvement

 

Cross Cutting Objectives

There is no specific implication, however sound financial management does support the

delivery of the Councilís cross cutting objectives.

Director of

Finance and

Business

Improvement

 

Risk Management

This is detailed within section 5.

Director of

Finance and

Business

Improvement

 

Financial

The Statement of Accounts provides an overview of income and expenditure for

the financial year to 31 March 2021, and details the councilís assets, liabilities and reserves at this date.† The work of the external auditor aims to provide independent assurance over this document.

Director of

Finance and

Business

Improvement

 

Staffing

No implications identified.

Director of

Finance and

Business

Improvement

 

Legal

Under section 151 of the Local Government Act (LGA 1972), the Section 151 Officer has

statutory duties in relation to the financial

administration and stewardship of the authority, including advising on the corporate financial position and providing financial information. It is a function of the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee to review and approve the annual statement of accounts and to consider if appropriate accounting policies have been followed and whether there are concerns arising from the financial statements or from the audit that need to be brought to the attention of the

Policy and Resources Committee or Council.

Director of

Finance and

Business

Improvement

 

Privacy and Data Protection

No implications identified.

Director of

Finance and

Business

Improvement

 

Equalities

No implications identified.

 

Director of

Finance and

Business

Improvement

 

Public Health

 

 

No implications identified.

Director of

Finance and

Business

Improvement

 

Crime and Disorder

No implications identified.

Director of

Finance and

Business

Improvement

Procurement

No implications identified.

Director of

Finance and

Business

Improvement

 

Biodiversity and Climate Change

The implications of this report on biodiversity and climate change have been considered and there are no direct implications on biodiversity and climate change.

 

Director of

Finance and

Business

Improvement

 

 

 

2.††††† INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

 

2.1     Committee members are invited to consider the report of the external auditor which provides an update on progress with the audit of the 2020/21 financial statements and offers a summary of emerging national issues and developments of relevance to the local government sector.† Representatives from Grant Thornton will be in attendance at the meeting to present their report and respond to questions.

 

2.2     In accordance with Accounts and Audit Regulations, the Council was required to have its audited Statement of Accounts for the 2020/21 financial year approved by the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee by 30 September 2021.

 

2.3     The draft financial statements were prepared by the finance team and presented to the committee at its meeting in July, with audit fieldwork commencing in late August.† An updated version of the statements was then presented to the committee at its meeting in September.† At this time, Grant Thornton advised that insufficient work had been completed to issue an audit opinion by the statutory deadline of 30 September, but that they anticipated that outstanding work would be completed during October 2021.† The committee agreed at this meeting to defer the approval of the accounts until its November meeting, in order to ensure that this decision could be taken with reference to the audit findings.

 

2.4     Subsequently, the updated Statement of Accounts and Grant Thorntonís Audit Findings Report were presented to the committee in November.† At this time, some further adjustments relating to the capital accounting entries were anticipated, and the committee approved the accounts subject to the satisfactory resolution of these issues by the Director of Finance and Business Improvement in consultation with the Chairman of the Committee.† A draft unqualified audit opinion was presented with the audit findings and at this time, it was hoped that the opinion would be formally issued shortly after the meeting.

 

2.5     Disappointingly, work to conclude the 2020/21 audit is still yet to be finalised.† Officers have provided updated financial statements, and Grant Thornton have advised that they expect to be in a position to issue the audit opinion by 31 January.† Appendix 1 provides further information regarding the status of the audit, and some wider information concerning the national picture for the local government sector.† Officers are maintaining regular liaison with the audit team to ensure that the 2020/21 financial statements audit can be concluded as soon as possible.

 

 

3.   AVAILABLE OPTIONS

 

3.1     Committee members are asked to note the external auditorís report attached at Appendix 1.

 

 

4.        PREFERRED OPTION AND REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS

 

4.1     The report is for noting only.† It is recommended that the committee takes time to consider this as it supports the discharging of responsibilities in relation to the statutory accounts and audit.

 

 

5.       RISK

5.1† Risks have been considered with reference to the Councilís risk management

† framework, and are considered to be within acceptable levels.

 

 

6.       CONSULTATION RESULTS AND PREVIOUS COMMITTEE FEEDBACK

 

6.1     Members of the public have legal rights to inspect, ask questions about and

††††††† challenge items in the Councilís accounts. Details of this have been

††††††† published on the Councilís website and the statutory period ended on 10 September. One enquiry was received regarding Covid Grants and rent deferrals, and this has been dealt with.

 

 

7.       NEXT STEPS: COMMUNICATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECISION

 

7.1     The external auditor has advised that they anticipate finalising the audit of the financial statements 31 January 2022.

 

 

 

8.        REPORT APPENDICES

 

The following documents are to be published with this report and form part of the report:

         Appendix 1: External Auditorís Progress Report & Sector Update.

 

 

9.        BACKGROUND PAPERS

 

None