Decision details

External Audit progress report and sector update

Decision Maker: Audit Committee

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Decision:

The Committee considered this report introduced by the External Auditors Engagement Lead which summarised the work of the External Auditors since the last report. An overview was provided of the Financial Statements Audit, the Value for Money work which included informed decision making, sustainable resource deployment and working with partners and other third parties.

 

Members noted the key finding of the interim work, and it was reported there had not been any findings of significance. In response to a question that External Auditor confirmed they had been able to access all the information required to enable them to complete their work towards this year’s Annual report. This had been helped with regular meetings with officers to ensure the audit process was a smooth and effective as possible.

 

There was a brief discussion on the issue of Journal entry and controls as there was no second authorisation. In response it was heard there were controls and mitigations to provide additional assurance, commensurate to address any risk and the External Auditors confirmed that a lot of testing on journals had never detected any problems.

 

There was a discussion about the work of the External Auditors and the timeliness of highlighting potential problems. It was noted that previous reports had contained narrative explaining the context of the Council’s financial position and concerns about the direction of travel.

 

It was noted that given what some observers saw as the culpability of Auditors in connection with (private sector) business failures there had been lots of discussion about the role of the auditor. It was noted that the Value for Money opinion was not all encapsulating, and although it was an aspect of the External Auditors work unique to the public sector, some commentators thought it was not detailed enough to provide adequate reassurance.

 

It was noted that there was the potential for the External Auditor to conduct some ‘Financial foresight’ work and as this work was outside of the scope of the main Audit like any other work it would have to be approved and then be available, but at an extra cost. The Chief Accountant confirmed that officers held frequent meetings with the Auditors and this had helped with enhanced budget monitoring and budget setting.

 

There was a question about the Audit of the Pension Fund’s accounts and Members heard the External Auditors, were also the Auditors for the Brunel Partnership, in to which the Council’s Pensions Fund was now being pooled. It was noted that the Auditors were considering how best to get assurance of the investments and understand the changed arrangements in respect of the Fund’s custodian and to this effect the External Auditors had written to Brunel to seek assurance from them.

 

The Committee asked that the leadership of the Council acknowledges and appreciates the excellent work of internal and external auditors in the financial position of the Council.  The Committee also asks that the Cabinet and SLT ensure that the robust work of auditors continues at an appropriate level.

 

The Committee accepted the report. 

Publication date: 30/05/2019

Date of decision: 28/03/2019

Decided at meeting: 28/03/2019 - Audit Committee

Accompanying Documents: