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External Auditor's Annual Audit Letter

Meeting: 18/01/2021 - Audit, Governance and Standards Committee (Item 166)

166 External Auditor's Annual Audit Letter pdf icon PDF 132 KB

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Ms Tina James of Grant Thornton, the External Auditor, presented the Annual Audit Letter summarising the main findings from the work undertaken by the External Auditor for the year ending 31 March 2020 and an updated version of the Audit Findings Report detailing the External Auditor’s key findings and conclusions in relation to the 2019/20 audit.


Ms James explained that the audit work was completed and an unqualified audit opinion was issued by the deadline of 30 November.  In terms of the Audit Findings Report, additional detail in relation to the valuation of the Pension Fund net liability had been included in response to questions asked at the last meeting.


In response to questions,


The Director of Finance and Business Improvement advised the Committee that:


·  It was the role of the External Auditors to look at the actuary’s report, not to comment on the investment and monitoring strategy of the Pension Fund.  This was a matter for the Kent Superannuation Fund Committee.  There was a district representative on the Kent Superannuation Fund Committee who was supposed to look after the Council’s interests, it was not within the remit of this Committee.  However, it was right that Members should have some understanding of the actuary’s report and the time to look at that was when consideration was given to the Council’s annual accounts which included the results of the Pension Fund and the actuary’s report in one document.


Ms James explained that:


·  The proposed increase in the fee for the 2019/20 external audit reflected the additional time it takes to conduct an audit remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.  It was not specific to Maidstone and remained subject to further discussion and the agreement of Public Sector Audit Appointments Limited.  Future fees would be discussed with management and the Committee as part of the planning for the 2020/2021 audit.


·  A typographical error in the External Auditor’s Audit Findings Report identified in the discussion would be corrected.


·  The External Auditor would follow up on prior year recommendations (for example in relation to the collection of related party transaction returns from Members) as part of the reporting for next year.


During the discussion, Members recognised the significant risks associated with the valuation of the Pension Fund net liability but acknowledged that this was a very specialist area with internal controls in place.




1.  That the External Auditor’s Annual Audit Letter for the year ended 31 March 2020, attached as Appendix 1 to the report of the Head of Finance, be noted.


2.  That the updated Audit Findings Report from the External Auditor, attached as Appendix 2 to the report of the Head of Finance, be noted.


Note:  During the discussion, Councillor Daley said that as a Member of the Kent Superannuation Fund Committee, he was aware of its investment strategy and auditing arrangements.