Agenda and draft minutes

Audit and Governance Committee
Tuesday 28th January 2020 5.30 pm

Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter

Contact: Sharon Sissons, Democratic Services Officer  Telephone 01392 265115 or email  sharon.sissons@exeter.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence from Committee Members.

 

Minutes:

 

Apologies were received from Councillor Hannaford.

 

 

 

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 101 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 4 December 2019.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 4 December 2019 were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chair as correct.

 

 

3.

Declaration of Interests

Councillors are reminded of the need to declare any discloseable pecuniary interests that relate to business on the agenda and which have not already been included in the register of interests, before any discussion takes place on the item. Unless the interest is sensitive, you must also disclosure the nature of the interest.  In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct, you must then leave the room and must not participate in any further discussion on the item.  Councillors requiring clarification should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer prior to the day of the meeting.

 

Minutes:

No declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests were made.

 

 

4.

Audit Findings Report (ISA 260) pdf icon PDF 585 KB

To consider the report of the Council’s External Auditor, Grant Thornton.

Minutes:

Peter Barber, Engagement Lead and David Bray, Engagement Manager, Grant Thornton presented the ISA 260 2018/19 findings reports.  The Engagement Lead confirmed that following a change in personnel, he had been appointed to complete the audit at Exeter City Council. The interim findings report had been presented to Members at the September meeting of the Committee. The summary of the work now completed by Grant Thornton, included the audit of the financial statements and the value for money conclusion. The Engagement Lead thanked the Chief Finance Officer and his team for their support during the audit, which had taken longer than planned due to resourcing issues within their audit team.

 

It was confirmed that the audit of the Council’s financial statements for the year ending 31 March 2019, had been completed with an unqualified opinion.  There were three material differences to the accounts which related to short term investments, the operating lease disclosure and the comparatives for short and long term borrowing in the draft financial statements, which were agreed with management and corrected in the financial statements.

 

The Engagement Lead also confirmed that Exeter City Council had proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources and had issued an unqualified opinion. Some additional work had been undertaken under the Local Audit and Actuality Act (2014) as a member of the public had indicated their concern about the governance arrangements in relation to grant monies paid to a community organisation in 2018/19. This would not materially impact on the financial statement or the value for money conclusion, although it was not possible to conclude the audit and issue an audit certificate until consideration of the objection had been completed.  The Engagement Lead confirmed that he would continue to work on this matter with the objector and officers of the City Council and it was clearly desirable to reach a resolution as quickly as possible. He also responded to a Member who had suggested that this may conflict with the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) remit, and confirmed that they did not direct them, and he reminded the Member of the Council’s own complaints process. The Chief Finance Officer reminded Members that the Council had made changes to the grant provision in February 2019, when some grants were changed into contracts, and this had enhanced the governance process. The request for funding, together with a Business Plan for an award to a community organisation was taken to Committee and Council as part of the New Homes Bonus (NHB) arrangements as opposed to the traditional grants award process.

 

In response to questions from Members, the Engagement Lead and the Chief Finance Officer responded in the following terms:-

 

·           a reference in the narrative of the key findings citing scope and flexibility for the funding of the Leisure Complex was included as part of the normal cyclical capital planning. The Chief Finance Officer added that the Council had expected £18 million from the New Homes Bonus, but Central  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Statement of Accounts 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 86 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Finance Officer and Deputy Chief Finance Officer.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Finance Officer presented the report on the Council’s Statement of Accounts for 2018/19 for approval and adoption. This was a statutory requirement to publish the Statement of Accounts to offer a ‘true and fair view’ of the financial position and transactions of the Council as at 31 March 2019.  He reported that due to a peak period of work in June and July, and additional work which was now required, Grant Thornton, as the Council’s external auditors, had been unable to conclude the update by 31 July. It was however, anticipated that Grant Thornton, would be able to issue an unqualified audit opinion on the Authority’s financial statements. A notice had been placed on the Council’s web site, which confirmed that Grant Thornton had taken full responsibility for the delay in the audit of the Council’s accounts.

 

The Chief Finance Officer discussed the key audit findings, highlighting material mis-statements, audit adjustments and presentational issues, which would not impact the General Fund balance or the Housing Revenue Account balance, which remained as reported to Council on 23 July 2019. He also responded to a Member’s comment on the level of pay of senior officers.  Apart from the annual pay, pension benefits and redundancy pay as appropriate were also included in the Disclosure Note and this sometimes made the anonymous table look unusual in terms of changes in the number of people included in each band.

 

The Chair expressed his thanks to the finance team for their support towards the Auditors in the production of the Final Accounts, whilst also producing the Council’s draft budget for 2020/21.

 

RESOLVED that the Audit and Governance Committee approve the audited Statement of Accounts for 2018/19 and requested that it be signed by the Chief Finance Officer and the Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee for forwarding to the External Auditor, Grant Thornton.

 

 

6.

Management Representation Letter pdf icon PDF 114 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Finance Officer.

Minutes:

The Chief Finance Officer submitted the letter to the External Auditor, Grant Thornton in respect of the 2018/19 Statement of Accounts as required by audit.

 

RESOLVED that the Audit and Governance Committee approve the letter, and request that it be signed by the Chief Finance Officer and the Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee for forwarding to the External Auditor, Grant Thornton.