Agenda item

Grant Thornton Progress Report

The Committee is asked to note the report.

Minutes:

Peter Barber, Grant Thornton presented the report, which detailed the progress Grant Thornton had made in delivering their responsibilities as the external auditors. 

 

The Committee were introduced to Alex Walling, Engagement Lead from Grant Thornton, it was noted she would be replacing Pete Barber in due course. 

 

Members were advised that Grant Thornton were still unable to conclude their work in relation to Value for Money (VFM) until the objection relating to the energy from waste scheme had been completed. The Engagement Lead updated the Committee as to the current position, it was noted that both parties had sought a further extension in order to respond accordingly.  Members were advised that the final date for the submission of response was the 14th April 2021.  Grant Thornton reiterated they would duly consider the submissions before any decisions were taken. 

 

The Committee noted the issues at a national level with the Whole Government Accounts submission which had prevented the Council from updating their submission had now been resolved and Grant Thornton had now completed their review and submission their assurance statements confirming that the final submission was consistent with the Council’s published financial statements on the 4th February 2021. 

 

The Director of Finance wished to thank Pete Barber for all his work supporting the Authority over the last three years and the cooperation of his team, especially during the course of the pandemic.  In what had proved to be challenging times given the need for remote working.  He added that it been a remarkable effort by Pete and his team to get the accounts finalised by the deadline.  He wished him well for the future.  The Chairman also thanked him for his patience and clarity at Committee meetings. 

 

A member referred to the VFM aspect and questioned the public interest report delays which would prevent the report from being published until after the elections, he added he was suspicious of such activity. 

 

A member added he understood the frustration but the Committee were unable to discuss an unpublished report and it would be wrong to discuss it further. 

 

The Chairman advised the Committee that a discussion would take place at the next agenda item. 

 

Alex Walling, Grant Thornton continued to present the report in detail and advised Committee of the audit planning arrangements, significant risks and the governance arrangements. 

 

Members were advised that the revised code was more complex and would lead to a more in-depth review of Council arrangements.  The Executive Director of Corporate Resources explained that the previous value for money process was no longer fit for purpose, as it required more commentary in order to make it user friendly for the public and he welcomed the new process going forward. 

 

During the discussion members questioned Grant Thornton’s need to duplicate the actuarial estimated valuation  of the Pensions Fund.  The Director of Finance explained that the valuation was undertaken by Hymans (a professional actuary) then challenged by officers and the Pension Committee. In addition the Council had an independent investment advisor to ensure assumptions of actuary were robust. So the pension fund estimates were robustly challenged already but it was noted that Grant Thornton were now required to have an overall view and where necessary present a further challenge.   

 

Resolved

 

That the report be noted.

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