The Committee considered a report of the External Auditor which provided an update on progress in delivering responsibilities and provided a summary of recent national reports and publications (for copy see file of minutes).
Mr Collins, Mazars referred to the Auditors Annual report that was reported at the Audit Committee meeting in November 2021 and advised that the National Audit Office would be confirming their requirements shortly. The audit certificate would be issued to formally close the 2020/21 audit when instructions have been received and the required procedures have been completed.
Mr Collins highlighted the Financial Reporting Councils (FRC) findings which reported significant improvements in Mazars audit work.
Mr I Rudd acknowledged the National Audit Office delay in giving instructions which caused the delay in completing the audit, however felt that the FRC findings regarding the timing of audits were contradictory as the NAO seem to be the cause of the delay. Mr Collins explained that the National Audit Office were waiting for the Treasury to resolve issues with their consolidation software which had resulted in delays in releasing instructions. He clarified that Durham was an outlier and met the deadline, however many other authorities were signed off after the deadline.
Councillor M McGaun noted the number of local authorities that had failed to meet the statutory reporting deadline and commended Durham County Council and Mazars on the excellent work in completing and auditing the accounts within the statutory deadlines.
That the report be noted.