Agenda item

Internal Audit & Assurance Plan 2020/21


The Head of Audit Partnership submitted a report setting out the proposed annual Internal Audit and Assurance Plan for 2020/21.  The report detailed how the Plan had been devised, the resources available through the Audit Partnership and the specific audit activities and projects to be delivered over the course of the year.


The Head of Audit Partnership confirmed that he was satisfied that the Plan had been compiled independently and without undue influence from either Officers or Members.


It was noted that:


·  The Public Sector Internal Audit Standards require the Audit Partnership to produce and publish a risk based Plan, at least annually, to determine the priorities for the year.  In producing the Plan, consideration must be given to input from senior management and Members and the Plan must be aligned to the objectives and risks of the Council.  The risk assessment must consider internal and external risks, including global and sector risks.  The Internal Audit Team had also undertaken a risk assessment line by line of every service within the Audit Universe (a running record of all services at the Council that Internal Audit might examine).


·  To ensure that the Plan remained flexible and responsive to emerging and changing risks throughout the year, a priority rating had been allocated to each of the proposed audit projects.  It was the aim to deliver 100% of the high priority rated projects and more than 50% of the medium priority rated projects during the year.


·  Having identified the sorts of risks posed, consideration had been given to the quantity and quality of the resources available.  The planning estimate for 2020/21 showed 1,810 days across the Partnership for the year available for inclusion in audit plans.  The total number of days was then divided between the four Partnership authorities based on the proportions set out in the Collaboration Agreement.  Since Maidstone contributed 29%, this amounted to 520 audit days.  This was less than in previous years, but the Head of Audit Partnership remained satisfied that the level of resources was sufficient to deliver a robust Audit Plan.


·  The Plan also included details of the proposed assurance non-project work that it was proposed to undertake as part of the wider risk, governance and counter fraud support for the Council and of the proposed consultancy work including completing Housing Benefit workbooks and testing for the External Auditor.


·  The Public Sector Internal Audit Standards required Mid-Kent Audit to undergo an external quality assessment at least every five years.  The IIA undertook the last assessment in spring 2015 and found that Mid-Kent Audit was fully conforming to the Standards.  CIPFA had been commissioned to conduct the 2020 external quality assessment and the findings would be reported to the Committee in July together with the Internal Audit Service response.  However, the draft findings had concluded that Mid-Kent Audit was fully conforming to the Standards.


In response to questions, the Head of Audit Partnership explained that:


·  The intention of the project entitled S106 Agreements was to look at all payments that developers make to the Council to help fund infrastructure, including Community Infrastructure Levy payments.  The Plan could be amended to clarify this.


·  With regard to the reduction in audit days, there was a need for all departments to make savings and he was satisfied with the way in which they had been achieved and that the Audit Plan was sufficiently robust to achieve objectives.


·  Ideally, the Collaboration Agreement would have been renewed before it expired last year.  However, he was looking to rectify this and he was satisfied that all four Partner Authorities remained committed to the Internal Audit Service, which was his main priority.


·  With regard to the priority ratings allocated to the proposed audit projects, and specifically the priority given to Subsidiary Company Governance and the Local Plan Project Governance Review, consideration had been given to how recently Internal Audit had looked at the area.  Subsidiary Company Governance had been looked at quite recently and the Officers had only just finished following up the recommendations arising from the review.  Internal Audit would look to see how the Company developed including, potentially, any services that might be offered to the Company at arm’s length and how that might function.  Last year Internal Audit had undertaken an ongoing piece of consultancy work looking at the Local Plan as it developed.  Whilst both areas were strategically important the priority rating reflected the amount of good recent intelligence which meant that the risk of the Internal Audit assessment of the rating being wrong was less.  However, both projects were in the upper part of the medium priority list so he expected that they would be delivered this year.


·  The acquisition of data analytic software had been raised by the external quality assessor and the report to the Committee in July would include reference to the types of software packages that might be looked at and how they might be used to deliver areas of the Audit Plan.


·  The compilation of the Audit Plan independently and without inappropriate influence from Members or Officers was crucial, but he was always happy to take information on board to inform the selection of audit projects.


·  Diminished reputation would make it more difficult for the Council to achieve its objectives so that would feature in the consideration of risk factors when compiling the Audit Plan.

·  A report would be submitted to the July meeting of the Committee setting out details of the findings of the Internal Audit review of Health and Safety and the actions taken by the Council to address the recommendations.


The Chairman thanked the Head of Audit Partnership and his Team for their work.




1.  That the Internal Audit and Assurance Plan for 2020/21, attached as Appendix 1 to the report of the Head of Audit Partnership, be approved.


2.  That the Head of Audit Partnership’s view that the Partnership currently has enough resources to deliver the Plan and a robust Head of Audit opinion be endorsed.


3.  That the Head of Audit Partnership’s assurance that the Plan is compiled independently and without inappropriate influence from management be endorsed.


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