The Committee is asked to note the reports.
Peter Barber, Grant Thornton presented the Council Audit Plan in detail. This covered the planned approach to the 2018/19 financial statements and value for money audit.
It was noted that in terms of value for money arrangements, Grant Thornton’s risk assessment regarding GCC arrangements to secure value for money had identified two VFM significant risks, these being future financial sustainability and responses to the Ofsted inspection of children’s services.
The External Auditor advised the Committee of the key matters impacting the audit process. During the presentation it was noted that Local Government funding continued to be stretched with increasing cost pressures and demand from residents, the Council were forecasting a £2.22 million overspend.
In response to a question, it was noted that Grant Thornton discharged a substantive approach to audit and undertook a clear understanding of key systems and were assured in their approach. Members were advised that External Audit had regard for anything that was brought to their attention by officers. In response to a question relating to GFRS and given that a Police investigation was underway, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage. External Audit would look at impropriety issues, whether that be a one off issue or a wider culture issue.
Members were informed that there was a clear difference between Internal & External Audit’s roles. Officers explained that Internal Audit’s role was to test and ensure systems that were operating effectively.
During the discussion, members questioned what value could Grant Thornton offer in respect to the Ofsted value for money risk. The Engagement Lead explained that Grant Thornton’s role was to offer an opinion on the accounts and the delivery of value for money. It was explained that Ofsted had recently undertaken a visit and the outcome letter was yet to be published. In terms of lessons, it was explained that external audit would look at what & how things were being done, and whether it was in the right way and manner.
Members felt it was difficult to know the true valuation of property, plant and equipment until the asset had been sold. The Engagement Lead explained that specific audit procedures were undertaken on the valuation of land and buildings. This includes evaluating management’s processes and assumptions for the calculation of the estimate, discussions with management to confirm the basis on which the valuation was carried out and the assumptions made by management for those assets not revalued during the year and how management has satisfied themselves that these are not materially different to current value at year end.
It was noted that the fee charged for the audit was £75,486 which was a decrease of approximately 23% compared to the previous year.
Katie Whybray, Audit Manager presented the Pension Fund Audit Plan report in detail. The Committee noted that the fee charged for the audit was £18,325 which was also a decrease of approximately 23% compared to the previous year.
The Committee welcomed the significant reduction in fees.
That the report be noted.