Agenda item

Contact Officer: Sue Cuerden

The purpose of this report is for the External Auditors, EY, to present their planning document which will form the basis of the external audit that they will carry out on the Council’s accounts for the financial year 2020/21.


Maria Grindley from EY introduced the report which presented the planning document which would form the basis of the external audit that they would carry out on the Council’s accounts for the financial year 2020/21.


The Committee discussed the report and made the following comments:


·         Questioned the increase to the audit fee and whether internal audit could carry out some of the work instead as a cost saving. EY explained that they were required to carry out the work as it formed part of their assurance that the items had been property accounted for, however, they did also review the reports produced by internal audit.


·         Reference was made to the materiality threshold where it was requested that items over £50,000 be reported to the Committee. EY confirmed that they could not audit to the level of £50,000 but if they did happen to find something they would report it but it did not ensure that they had found everything at that level.


·         Clarification was sought on the additional work that had to be carried out which had resulted in an increased fee. The Executive Director of Corporate Services advised that Officers had challenged the fee and it had been referred to PSAA.


·         Questioned partnership risks and whether the potential risks for New River and the Leisure Park could be reviewed and whether EY reviewed the fiduciary duty that the Council had towards public money. EY advised that the value for money conclusion was no longer carried out as following NAO guidance they reviewed specific areas and it hadn’t yet been confirmed what areas would be covered.


·         Queried the Property fund valuation of land and buildings and whether the money invested from the treasury management fund remained ring-fenced. EY advised that the Council should follow accounting standards in relation to the investment. The Executive Director of Corporate Services confirmed that the investment was no longer a treasury management activity as the funding had been moved following Council approval and instead it was classified as other investment activity and monitored separately.


Councillor Cubitt requested that it be minuted that she had raised the issue previously and during the meeting that she felt that the greatest risk to the accounts were the Council’s major projects, Manydown and the Leisure Park. The projects involved significant sums of money which were outside the normal scope of council activity and she felt that she had a fiduciary duty to ensure that the council was running the projects as required and that she had concerns about both projects.


The Executive Director of Corporate Services advised that internal audit independently reviewed the controls and risks to the council’s projects which were reported to the Committee. A report had also been circulated to the Scrutiny Committee which described how major projects were monitored and the various boards and mechanisms in place. A further report identifying the issues and risks on each of the projects would be provided to Performance Panel and Scrutiny Committee on a regular basis. Both the Scrutiny Committee and Performance Panel could ‘call-in’ a specific project they required further information. It was not the role of the Audit and Accounts Committee to look at specific project issues.


The Committee were advised that internal audit were currently reviewing the governance arrangements of the Leisure Park and Basing View projects.


Resolved: The Committee notes the report.


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