Agenda and minutes

Audit & Accounts Committee - Friday, 14th June, 2019 2.00 pm

Venue: The Dove Room, Moorlands House, Stockwell Street, Leek. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of interest

i. Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.

ii. Other Interests.

Minutes:

There were no declarations made.

2.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the Minutes of the meeting of the Audit and Accounts Committee held on 8 February 2019 be APPROVED  as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

3.

External Audit - Audit Committee Update pdf icon PDF 848 KB

Minutes:

Grant Patterson – Engagement Lead at Grant Thornton – updated members on progress achieved to date.

 

There was nothing of any note to bring to members’ attention and the audit was on track.

 

When asked about a fraud case that had occurred at another Council, Grant confirmed that the Risk Assessment which was in place here would pick up a similar situation. In addition, Internal Audit would detect such an occurrence. External Audit also looked at segregation of duties as a matter of routine.

4.

Role of External Audit pdf icon PDF 779 KB

Minutes:

Following the recent Local elections, members were presented with a paper which clarified the role of External Audit (EA - currently Grant Thornton UK LLP) within the Council’s organisation. Subjects outlined included the following:-

 

·         The Committee would be asked to approve the Annual Statements at the next meeting. It was clarified that members of the public were able to lodge an objection to the statements within 30 days of their publication, which was a more condensed process than previously. There had been no feedback from members of the public, with objections tending to be received from pressure groups. It was important to avoid abuse of such arrangements. The Freedom Of Information platform was available for the public to use if they required;

·         All expenditure on items up to £500 were detailed on the Council’s website;

·         The Council’s pensions liability was to be set again in 2021;

·         EA concentrated its resources on the Council’s value for money provision, use of resources, looking at national risks and the Annual Governance Statement, ensuring that adequate arrangements were in place;

 

EA were able to exercise discretion in setting out what objectives were set, keeping in mind public interest levels.

 

Grant Patterson confirmed that EA did not offer Tax advice, and were generally moving away from similar consultations under auspices of ethical standards.  

 

Cllr. Yates stated that, when companies were tendering for larger contracts, they would frequently add an extra premium to the tender, simply because they were bidding to a Council. Bench-marking arrangements were needed with the private sector to establish what the expected cost would be so that this could be avoided. He felt that the field should be opened up to local small and medium-sized businesses.

 

Grant confirmed that, if the Council’s procurement arrangements were weak, EA would look at it. A risk-based approach was adopted for such matters. Andrew Stokes went on to say that the Council had a new emerging procurement policy.

 

The Committee had recently adopted the practice of holding a 15 minute pre-meeting between members and Auditors (Internal AND External) without other officers present, where questions could be raised and unfettered answers given.

 

A training session had been arranged, to be held at Pavilion Gardens, Buxton in conjunction with the members of the equivalent HPBC Committee on 18 June 2019. Several members were unable to attend and it was agreed that a ‘mop-up’ session would be done before the next meeting. Training sessions were to alternate between High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands locations.

5.

External Audit - Audit Fee Letter pdf icon PDF 185 KB

Minutes:

Grant Patterson presented the letter confirming that the Planned Audit Fee for 2019/20 had been set at £34,465. This fee had been fixed for 5 years and, in order to continue with a quality audit, it was felt that this figure should not be reduced further.

 

Andrew Stokes confirmed this point, stating that the fee from 8 years ago was over £100,000.

 

The Chair thanked Grant for his attendance and information.

6.

Internal Audit Annual Audit Plan pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Head of Audit John Leak first gave an overview of the audit arrangements for the Council in light of the newly-elected members present. An outline was given with regard to the statutory requirement for Internal Audit and the preparation and implementation of the Annual Audit Plan and the reporting arrangements to this committee, and also the working relationship with the external auditors (Grant Thornton) to look independently at procedures in place within the Council.

 

The Committee discussed the various types of fraud that could occur at the Council. Officers confirmed that the Council has appropriate policies and procedures in place to prevent and detect fraud and they attended networking groups where types of fraud were discussed and, should there be any attempts of fraud at the Council, the Chair and Committee would be appropriately briefed.

 

Annual Audit Plan

 

The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 required the Council to undertake an effective internal audit and to evaluate the effectiveness of its risk management, control and governance processes, taking into account public sector internal auditing standards or guidance. The plan was based on a documented risk assessment undertaken at least annually.

 

The plan for 2019/20 was appended to the report. There was 1 amendment – Pavilion Gardens Contract Management was shown in the ‘Alliance’ column but should have shown in the ‘HPBC’ column.

 

RESOLVED – That the Council’s Annual Audit Plan for 2019/20 be APPROVED.

 

 

7.

Internal Audit Periodic Report pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

John Leak presented the report to members in line with the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015. This report referred to audits in progress and completed during the period 1 February 2019 to 30 April 2019, including the number and classification of recommendations made, agreed and, where applicable, Implemented by management.

 

All recommendations had been agreed and, to date, 91% of 2018/19 recommendations that were due had been implemented. Where deficiencies in internal control had been identified and not corrected, Internal Audit were satisfied that they would be resolved in an appropriate manner and such cases would continue to be monitored. It was the responsibility of relevant Managers to implement appropriate recommendations.

 

Of the 10 Audits completed, assurances were given for each, with 2 being Substantial, 7 Satisfactory and 1 Limited.

 

Appended to the report were:-

1.    Audit reports issued between 1 February 2019 and 30 April 2010;

2.    Internal Audit Progress Information as at 30 April 2019;

3.    2017/18 Audit Recommendations Implementation.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be NOTED.

8.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Work Programme for the 2019/20 Municipal Year.

 

RESOLVED – That the Work Programme for 2019/20 be APPROVED.

 

It was confirmed that future meetings would revert to the usual 10am start time.