Agenda item

External Auditor's Progress Report and Sector Update


Mr Trevor Greenlee of Grant Thornton presented the External Auditor’s report providing an update on progress with the audit of the 2020/21 financial statements and a summary of emerging national issues and developments of relevance to the local government sector.


Mr Greenlee advised the Committee that:


·  Grant Thornton’s Audit Findings Report was presented to the Committee at its meeting on 15 November 2021.  At that time, it was explained that although substantial progress had been made in most areas, changes were required because of a historic issue involving a prior period adjustment in the financial statements.  The Council provided a revised set of accounts including that adjustment in December 2021 and a further version the previous week.  The External Auditor was currently reviewing the most recent and the earlier versions of the revised accounts and the accompanying working papers and would engage with the Finance Team if there were further issues in relation to those amendments.


·  As a result of the review process, the External Auditor had identified some areas where further information was required and would work with the Finance Team to progress that as quickly as possible.


·  Subject to progress regarding outstanding queries, the External Auditor was aiming to issue the audit opinion on the 2020/21 financial statements by 31 January 2022.


·  The External Auditor’s review of the Council’s 2020/21 Housing Benefit Subsidy claim was also currently in progress.


In response to a question, Mr Greenlee explained that although it was the External Auditor’s aim to complete the audit by 31 January 2022, that would depend upon progress with the outstanding issues over the next few weeks.


The Chairman expressed disappointment and concern that the audit was taking so long and that the accounts had still not been formally signed off.  He sought assurance that the audit would be completed by 31 January 2022 and with a satisfactory outcome.


Mr Greenlee said that he fully understood the wish to complete the audit as quickly as possible and it was the External Auditor’s aim to do so by 31 January 2022.  However, that would depend on progress with the outstanding review queries, and he could not give a commitment that the audit would be completed by 31 January 2022.


Arising from a request for more information about the reasons for the delay, Mr Greenlee explained that until the External Auditor had got to the point of reviewing all work, it was difficult to provide a definitive list of queries.  In terms of the actual outstanding queries, he did not think any were of a fundamental or particularly complex nature which would start a whole chain of events.


The Chairman said that he had every confidence in the Council’s Finance Team and hoped that the External Auditor would work to conclude the audit as a top priority as it was a matter of importance to the Council.


RESOLVED:  That subject to the concerns expressed during the discussion about the delay in concluding the 2020/21 audit, the External Auditor’s progress report and sector update, attached as Appendix 1 to the report of the Head of Finance, be noted.


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