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Agenda item

Work of the Audit Committee for the Period September 2017 to August 2018 - Report of Chairman of the Audit Committee


The Chairman of the Audit Committee presented the report which covered the work of the Audit Committee for the period September 2017 to August 2018.


Councillor E Bell placed on record the Committee’s thanks to one of the outgoing coopted members for the valuable contribution they had made to the Committee. A new co-opted member had been appointed in May and had settled in well.


The Chairman drew the Council’s attention to the work of Internal Audit, which continued to promote and champion the work of internal audit across the organisation.  The Committee had agreed a revised version of the internal audit strategy, charter and the annual internal audit plan.


Councillor Bell highlighted the challenge and support made by the Committee on the proposed work programme for the coming year. The work completed by internal audit continued to provide assurance of the council’s control environment, governance arrangements and risk management.


Internal Audit continued to update the committee on a quarterly basis.  The committee provided the appropriate challenge and a number of officers had attended to provide explanations and answer questions.


It had been very pleasing to note receipt of an unqualified opinion on both sets of financial statements for the County Council and the Pension Fund by the Council’s external auditor.  This had been achieved against an earlier deadline compared to previous years given that the Council’s statement of accounts for 2017/2018 had to be audited and approved by 31st July 2018.


Councillor E Bell highlighted that the work of officers to achieve an unqualified opinion had been an enormous achievement, given the size and complexity of the Council. The external auditors had been complimentary of the Council’s efforts in answering queries and ensuring a timely outcome and an unqualified opinion. The Audit Committee’s thanks had been passed onto all of the officers involved in the process.


Finally, the Chairman spoke of the continuing good work of the Council’s Corporate Fraud Team. The Committee continued to be updated on the excellent work being completed in terms of proactive counter fraud work. To provide some context the Corporate Fraud Team had completed 705 investigations in 2017/18 on a wide range of areas including blue badge abuse, council tax and business rates reduction claims, insurance claims and housing tenancy. The team had either stopped or recovered £796,691 of public money. As a result the team had an excellent local and national profile for their work and had developed strong partnerships with other public sector organisations which continued to enhance the reputation of the Council.


Councillor Shuttleworth referred to the meeting of the Audit Committee held on 31 July 2018 and expressed his disappointment that the Chairman of the Audit Committee had not mentioned the comments made at that meeting about the assets service.

Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714