The Committee considered a report of the Chief Internal Auditor and Corporate Fraud Manager (Interim) which provided the Chief Internal Auditor and Corporate Fund Manager’s assurance opinion on the adequacy and effectiveness of the Council’s internal control environment and presented the Annual Internal Audit Report for 2020/21 (for copy see file of Minutes).
The Chief Internal Auditor and Corporate Fraud Manager (Interim) confirmed that despite the challenges faced due to the pandemic he had was satisfied that sufficient work had been undertaken by the Internal Audit Team and from assurance he had received from other means to draw a conclusion that he could give a moderate overall assurance opinion for 2020/21.
Mr C Robinson referred to the limitation on overall controls, asking if the issue was the soundness of the control structure in place or the effectiveness of officers in adhering to and operating within the controls that are in place. The Chief Internal Auditor and Corporate Fraud Manager assured him that overall the Council has effective systems of internal control in place, although working from home was more of risk it was not over exposed. Financial systems testing gave the assurances that they were operating in the way expected and therefore the issues were more to do with compliance rather than systematic issues, though some improvements can always be made. Mr Robinson asked if there was anything that could be done to raise the level of compliance and was advised that the incidents were isolated but were actioned.
The Corporate Director of Resources (Interim) further explained that it was an ongoing challenge and that it was fundamental for the council to hold people to account and seek assurances from the internal review and that the Audit Committee had a key role to play here. The report in Part B would provide further assurance about how officers were held to account on a limited assurance review of Fuel Cards and he assured members that this was mainly about compliance in some areas and from some officers rather than a systematic underlying problem within the council.
(i) That the content of the Annual Internal Audit Report for 2020/2021 at Appendix 2 be noted;
(ii) That the overall ‘moderate’ opinion provided on the adequacy and effectiveness of the Council’s internal control environment for
2020/2021 be noted.