Agenda and decisions

Audit Committee
Tuesday, 11 June 2019 6.00pm

Venue: Shimkent Room, Daneshill House, Danestrete

Contact: Ian Gourlay (01438) 242703  Email: committees@stevenage.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Decision:

There were no apologies for absence.

 

There were no declarations on interest.

2.

ELECTION OF VICE-CHAIR

To elect a Vice-Chair of the Committee for the remainder of the 2019/20 Municipal Year.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that Councillor John Gardner be elected as Vice-Chair of the Committee for the 2019/20 Municipal Year.

3.

MINUTES - 19 MARCH 2019 pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 19 March 2019.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Audit Committee meeting held on 19 March 2019 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

4.

TERMS OF REFERENCE pdf icon PDF 53 KB

To note the Terms of Reference for the Committee, as agreed by Annual Council on 22 May 2019.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that the Terms of Reference for the Committee, as approved at the Annual Council Meeting held on 22 May 2019, be noted.

5.

ACCOUNTS AND AUDIT TIMELINE 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider Ernst & Young’s letter regarding a proposed revised Accounts and Audit Timeline for 2018/19.

Decision:

In debating the fact that Ernst and Young had revised the timetable for the 2018/19 Accounts and Audit, with completion during September 2019 rather than by 31 July 2019, the Associate Partner (Ernst and Young) and the Assistant Director (Finance and Estates) replied to a series of Members’ questions and comments as follows:

 

·      Ernst and Young would be “front loading” as much audit work as possible during the end of July/early August, so as not to run too close to the September 2019 Committee deadline for completion of the work;

·      The Council would still be able to publish its Accounts by the end of July 2019 (albeit with no audit opinion);

·      There was a strategic risk to the Council, although experience had shown that audits generally raised valuation issues rather than income/expenditure issues;  there was potentially more risk in terms of SBC staffing/resourcing resilience in support of the audit;

·      The Ernst and Young audit team was now in place to deliver the audit by the September 2019 deadline, and a Project Plan was to be submitted to the Assistant Director (Finance and Estates); and

·      There was a discussion on the sustainability and future challenges facing public sector audit;  the Assistant Director (Finance and Estates) would reflect the Council’s views in her representation to the Society of Local Authority Treasurers, and it was confirmed that Ernst and Young were engaging proactively in the future reviews into the audit market.

 

It was RESOLVED that the revised Accounts and Audit Timetable for 2018/19, as set out in the letter from Ernst and Young dated 26 April 2019, be noted.

6.

ANNUAL AUDIT FEE LETTER 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 295 KB

To consider Ernst & Young’s Annual Fee Letter for 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Decision:

In response to a Member’s question regarding potential additional audit fees for work associated with items such as group accounts or a review of the Queensway Scheme, the Assistant Director (Finance and Estates) advised that she would be writing to Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) seeking clarification of precisely what audit work was included in the Annual Audit Fee.

 

For the specific benefit of new Members of the Committee, the Assistant Director (Finance and Estates) undertook to provide them with a glossary of relevant acronyms and their definitions.

 

It was RESOLVED that the Annual Audit Fee Letter for 2019/20 from Ernst and Young dated 29 April 2019 be noted.

7.

2018/19 ANNUAL FRAUD REPORT AND PROGRESS WITH DELIVERY OF 2019/20 ANTI-FRAUD PLAN pdf icon PDF 396 KB

To consider the 2018/19 Annual Fraud Report and progress with delivery of the 2019/20 Anti-Fraud Plan.

Additional documents:

Decision:

In response to a series of questions, the Shared Anti-Fraud Manager responded as follows:

 

·      In relation to Key Performance Indicator 2 (Identified value of fraud), this target was based on the history and experience of previous years, together with comparative information with work carried out for other Councils in the partnership;

·      The management information for 2019/20 was not as detailed as would normally be the case, primarily due to a change in software supplier.  However, this situation would be resolved by the end of June 2019, and so the next SAFS progress report would provide the level of detail required;

·      Publicity on successful prosecutions was provided to the local Press and published on the Council’s website.  The SAFS Manager undertook to include details of how many prosecutions were reported in the local Press as part of his next and future progress reports.

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.         That the activity undertaken by the Shared Anti-Fraud Service to deliver the 2018/19 Anti-Fraud Plan for the Council, as set out in the report, be noted.

 

2.         That the other anti-fraud activity undertaken to protect the Council, as set out in the report, be noted.

 

3.         That the progress of the Shared Anti-Fraud Service on delivering the 2019/20 Anti-Fraud Plan, as set out in the report, be noted.

8.

AUDIT PLAN 2019/20 - PROGRESS REPORT pdf icon PDF 169 KB

To consider a progress report on the SIAS 2019/20 Internal Audit Plan.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.         That the Internal Audit progress report be noted.

 

2.         That the status of Critical and High Priority Audit Recommendations be noted.

9.

ANNUAL ASSURANCE STATEMENT AND INTERNAL AUDIT ANNUAL REPORT 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 339 KB

To consider the Annual Assurance Statement and Internal Audit Annual Report prepared by SIAS.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.         That the Annual Assurance Statement and Internal Audit Report be noted.

 

2.         That the results of the self-assessment required by the Public Sector Internal Standards (PSIAS) and the Quality Assurance and Improvement Programme (QAIP) be noted.

 

3.         That the SIAS Audit Charter 2019/20 be accepted.

 

4.         That management assurance be given that the scope and resources for internal audit were not subject to inappropriate limitations in 2018/19.

10.

ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 121 KB

To consider the content of the Council’s Annual Governance Statement for 2018/19.

Additional documents:

Decision:

In reply to a Members’ comment, Officers confirmed that the questions posed to Assistant Directors as part of the process in developing the Annual Governance Statement (in accordance with the CIPFA/SOLACE Framework) were challenging and robust.

 

It was RESOLVED that the Council’s Annual Governance Statement 2018/19, as attached at Appendix One to the report, be recommended for approval by the Statement of Accounts Committee.

11.

URGENT PART 1 BUSINESS

To consider any Part 1 business accepted by the Chair as urgent.

Decision:

None.

12.

EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

To consider the following motions –

 

1.  That under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as described in paragraphs1 – 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act as amended by Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006.

 

2.  That Members consider the reasons for the following reports being in Part II and determine whether or not maintaining the exemption from disclosure of the information contained therein outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

 

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that:

 

1.        Under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as described in paragraphs 1-7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act as amended by Local Government (Access to information) (Variation) Order 2006.

 

2.         Members considered the reasons for the following reports being in Part II and determined that the exemption from disclosure of the information contained therein outweighed the public interest in disclosure.

13.

STRATEGIC RISK REGISTER

To note the latest Strategic Risk Register for Stevenage Borough Council, and to note developments on risk management issues.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED:

 

1.         That the latest Strategic Risk Register (set out in Appendices A1 – A3 to the report) be noted.

2.         That developments on risk management issues be noted.

 

14.

URGENT PART II BUSINESS

To consider any Part II business accepted by the Chair as urgent.

Decision:

None.

15.

PART II MINUTES - AUDIT COMMITTEE - 19 MARCH 2019

To approve as a correct record the Part II minutes of the meeting held on 19 March 2019.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that the Part II Minutes of the Audit Committee meeting held on 19 March 2019 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.