Your Councillors


Agenda item

Internal Audit Interim Report 2020/21

Minutes:

The Head of Audit Partnership introduced his report summarising the progress made so far in delivering the revised 2020/21 Internal Audit and Assurance Plan approved by the Committee in September 2020 and providing an update on the approach to completing the Plan culminating in a Head of Audit Opinion in July 2021.

 

In introducing the report, the Head of Audit Partnership advised the Committee that:

 

·  The Internal Audit team had continued to work with sufficient independence and objectivity and had not been subject to undue pressure from Members or Officers.  No instances had been identified where it was considered that management had responded inappropriately to risk.  He was satisfied that there were sufficient resources available to deliver the 2020/21 Internal Audit and Assurance Plan and to provide a robust Audit Opinion.

 

·  Reference was made in the Plan to agreed additional resources to provide backfill capacity where members of the Internal Audit team were redeployed to support COVID-19 related service delivery.  In this connection, contract auditor support had been procured through a well-established framework arrangement with more than 20 Councils as co-signatories.  Some of the audit work would be completed by employees of Mazars, the contract supplier, who, for family reasons, were living overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Having discussed the matter with Data Protection Officers within the Partner Authorities, he was satisfied that there were no increased material data protection risks arising from these arrangements.

 

·  When the Annual Internal Audit Report and Opinion 2019/20 was considered by the Committee in July 2020, the audit review of Members’ Allowances had not reached draft report stage.  The final report was issued in November 2020.  Three errors had been found during the audit.  In two of those cases Members had claimed for print cartridges.  The rules had been clarified and print cartridges were a reclaimable expense.  The third error related to a train journey where the receipt had not been provided or it had been misfiled.  However, the Internal Audit team had been able to verify that the journey did take place and that the claim was in line with what the cost of the journey would be.  Actions had been agreed with the Democratic Services team, one of which was to remind Members about the process for making claims.

 

·  Progress was being made on the 2020/21 Internal Audit and Assurance Plan with the expectation that all of the projects would be concluded by the end of April 2021.  Satisfactory progress was being made on the implementation of agreed actions from previous audit projects.

 

·  The report also included details of the professional qualifications gained by members of the Internal Audit Team.

 

On behalf of the Committee, the Chairman congratulated Jen Warrillow, Maidstone’s Audit Manager, on her success at the final stage of the Chartered Internal Auditor qualification.

 

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

 

·  If it became necessary to use overseas contractors again, a brief written explanation would be provided in reports to the Committee.

 

·  The outcome of the review of the assurance rating structure would be reported to the Committee as part of the 2021/22 Internal Audit and Assurance Plan in the Spring of 2021.

 

·  In terms of high priority actions carried forward past their deadline, progress was being made, but the Internal Audit team was not able to sign them off yet.  If the actions were being ignored or falling seriously behind schedule, there would be an accompanying narrative.  However, that was not the situation at present.

 

Members thanked the Internal Audit team for their work in difficult circumstances.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.  That the progress so far on completing the 2020/21 Internal Audit and Assurance Plan be noted.

 

2.  That the Head of Audit Partnership’s view that he currently holds sufficient resources to complete the Plan and that he will inform the Chairman of the Committee promptly should that situation change be noted.

 

Supporting documents: