To consider the report of the Audit Managers.
The Audit Manager (HK) presented the Annual Internal Audit report for the year ending 31 March 2022, which conformed to the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards and was timed to inform the Council’s Annual Governance Statement. All Audit assurances that have been issued throughout the year had all been satisfactory or above and she was pleased to report that management responses to all internal Audits findings had been positive.
The Audit Manager drew Members’ attention to key points within the report:-
· Section 2 - offered the overall opinion of the circulated report, with confirmation that key systems were operating satisfactorily with no fundamental breakdown of control resulting in material discrepancy.
· Section 3 - highlighted three key issues to be included in the Annual Governance Statement (AGS), these being the Council’s financial position, Net Zero 2030 and Change management as part of the AGS. These areas will be subject to quarterly monitoring by the Audit and Governance Committee with an update on any actions identified.
· Section 4 - included a summary on the delivery of the Annual Audit Plan 2021/22 and included an outcome of all the audits undertaken in the year. A copy of any of the completed audit reports could be provided to Members upon request.
· Section 5 - offered a summary of investigations that have been undertaken throughout the year. It included confirmation that there were no instances of the Whistleblowing Policy being used.
· Section 6 - included confirmation of the results of their Quality Assurance and Improvement Programme. This included a summary of the returned responses of a stakeholder’s survey which was attached as a conclusion to the report.
In response to Members’ questions, the Audit Manager explained:-
· two Audit opinions were issued in respect of the People Management audit, one was issued to the Payroll Manager for areas identified within his control and one opinion was issued in respect of areas outside his control i.e. the responsibility of management. All responses received on both reports were satisfactory.
· the scoring mechanism and the categories of assurance used to provide an overall audit opinion. Internal Audit’s role was to provide assurance to management that the control environment was sound. They had never issued a report categorised as no assurance.
· the Whistleblowing Policy was included on the agenda for review which hopefully may encourage staff to report any concerns if they have any. Details of the protection available under the policy were regularly communicated to staff, although to date was rarely used. This may be because staff had no concerns or it may be that they did not feel confident in reporting those concerns under the policy.
In response to a Member’s question, the Director Finance explained that it was not a role for Internal Audit to look at the viability of a service, and they were involved with the system of internal control. The example quoted of leisure facilities was a Council decision to determine viability and levels of income. If during the budget monitoring process the income was found to be significantly lower than anticipated income targets,it would be reported to Members for the appropriate action.
The Audit and Governance Committee noted the Annual Audit Report for the year ended 31 March 2022.