The Committee received the Audit Completion Report of the ExternalAuditor relating to the year ended 31 March 2022 which provided a summary of audit conclusions (for copy see file of minutes).
Mr Outterside, Mazars presented the report and highlighted the outstanding work which included the national infrastructure assets issue and the whole of government accounts. He advised that both matters were outside of their control and nothing to do with the authority. They were still waiting for information from the National Audit Office and when the issues were resolved, the audit closure process would be completed. It was noted that the materiality was £30.485m which was slightly higher than the £28.971m set at the planning stage of the audit. Referring to findings in relation to property valuation, it was noted that some control recommendations were identified, however they were not considered to be a significant concern.
In response to a query from Mr Rudd regarding concerns with recurring issues relating to land and buildings assets, Mr Kirkham, Mazars advised that the area of work had increased which resulted in increased challenge and required new procedures to mitigate the audit risk. He added that there was no threat to funds and the valuation of property, plant and equipment was an area of work that involved judgement and required sufficient evidence to satisfy the audit requirements.
Mr Robinson referred to a previous Transformation Programme presentation that had been presented to the Committee and asked if it was possible to provide an update on the arrangements in place to secure value for money. Mr Kirkham, Mazars advised that this was an area of work undertaken by external audit to challenge local authorities on plans to bridge forecasted gaps in the Medium Term Financial Plan and to ensure that cost improvement exercises were grounded and deliverable. He added that the Council’s accounts and value for money arrangements had been tested and was pleased to report there were no findings and the Council had provided sufficient evidence to manage the risk of any unaddressed gaps. The Corporate Director of Resources confirmed that a Transformation Programme update would be presented at a future meeting.
In response to a query from Councillor T Smith, the Corporate Director of Resources advised that savings and improvement suggestions were welcomed from staff, members and any stakeholders and could be emailed to him directly. He added that discussions take place with AAPs, partnership forums and through the staff suggestion scheme as part of the budget consultation process.
That the report be noted.