The Committee is asked to note the report.
Sophie Morgan-Bower, Senior Audit Manager, Grant Thornton presented the report which informed the Committee of the audit work to be undertaken for the 2021/22 financial year for Gloucestershire County Council, Gloucestershire Pension Fund and the fees involved.
It was explained that the plan clearly set out the process and it was noted that the Pension Fund audit was progressing well. The Committee were informed that Internal Audit and Grant Thornton had regular meetings and dialogue throughout the financial year to discuss key issues on a regular basis.
In terms of the Value for Money (VfM) audit report, it was noted that the VfM audit report had been issued, however Grant Thornton (GT) were awaiting further guidance from Central Government on the accounts.
Members were advised there was increase in the audit fees for 2021/22 and were referred to pages 17/18 of the report, which detailed the fees. The Senior Audit Manager explained Grant Thornton were hoping to complete some elements of their work on-site during the summer, as Covid restrictions had now been lifted. It was noted discussions had been taking place with the PSAA and where local government bodies had a preference to undertake audits remotely, the audit fees would be uplifted to reflect the inefficiencies that it could cause. For GCC the estimated uplift would be approximately £10k. Members were advised if the audit were to take place in person it would be quicker as small inefficiencies added up during the course of an audit.
In response to a question, regarding the uplift calculation, it was noted that the fee would be levied across all of Grant Thornton's clients and it was recognised there would be some additional savings in terms of time, travel, accommodation, etc. The Executive Director of Corporate Resources was sceptical at the uplift, he didn't believe it would be costlier and would ensure the appropriate officers were in place for face to face meetings. He added that he would be asking the PSAA to validate the cost of the uplift. GT advised if face to face meetings occurred then the fee would be reduced.
The Senior Audit Manager proceeded to give a breakdown of the audit fees, as detailed on page 19 of the report. The Executive Director advised the Committee that GT fees had increased as they were unrealistically low in the beginning. He suggested that GT should be more realistic with their fees in the future, rather than having on-cost increases, and the PSAA should be made aware of these issues.
During the discussion, members asked what was the situation in terms of the climate task force disclosures, GT explained they were currently undertaking work on this area and it would be reported in due course.
In response to a question, it was noted that the issue of journals was raised at the last meeting and the Executive Director explained that a new system would be installed in due course, but in the interim period officers would continue to undertake manual checks.
The Senior Audit Manager advised the committee that leases for accounting purposes had been deferred to 2024/25 but some work could be undertaken if the Council wished to start the process early. The Executive Director advised Members this would not be necessary, as most leases were already included in the balance sheet.
The Committee noted that the pension fund was within the remit of the Pensions Committee who also reviewed the Auditor’s annual report.
That the report be noted.