Agenda and draft minutes

Extraordinary, Audit Committee - Wednesday, 30th March, 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: David Hicks 1 - Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN

Contact: Madeleine Shopland  Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist

Note: Extraordinary 

Media

Items
No. Item

57.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence received.

58.

Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest

Minutes:

Councillor Imogen Shepherd-DuBey declared a general Personal Interest on the grounds that she had money in the Berkshire Pension Fund.

 

59.

Public Question Time

To answer any public questions

 

A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.

 

The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the work of this committee.

 

Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Committee or an item which is on the Agenda for this meeting.  For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact the Democratic Services Section on the numbers given below or go to www.wokingham.gov.uk/publicquestions

Minutes:

There were no Public questions.

 

60.

Member Question Time

To answer any member questions

Minutes:

There were no Member questions.

 

61.

Wokingham Borough Council Audit results report Year ended 31 March 2021 pdf icon PDF 3 MB

To receive the Wokingham Borough Council Audit results report Year ended 31 March 2021.

Minutes:

The Committee received the Wokingham Borough Council Audit results report year ended 31 March 2021.

 

During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:

 

·       The report outlined EY’s findings against each of the risks reported to the Committee in November as part of the Audit Planning report and highlighted any issues arising with the audit.  The report included the known adjustments to date, and those sections would be updated with results worked through e.g., in relation to Elms Field.

·       Helen Thompson, EY advised Members that the audit work was largely complete.  There were two outstanding issues which were outside of the Council and EY’s control.

·       Members were updated on the outstanding areas referenced on page 9 of the agenda. 

·       With regards to Capital Receipts in advance, the additional testing advance which had been required, had been completed.  There were no matters to report. 

·       For the revaluation of land and buildings, work was completed subject to final review. 

·       The adjustments required for the accounting for Elms Field were being worked through the ledger.  Final checks were required for this, and the report would be updated.

·       In relation to the Group Consolidation, the work that had been outstanding was clarifications and ensuring that everything tied through, and there was nothing significant outstanding in this area.  Responses received were being reviewed but no further issues were anticipated.

·       The remaining outstanding issues referencing conclusion procedures could not be undertaken until the end of the audit.  The first issue related to Pensions.  When the assurance letter had been received from Deloitte, a caveat had been included stating that work was ongoing because their audit was not complete.  This work was not expected to be completed until later this year.  EY had been advised that this material caveat could not be disregarded.  Work relating to the Pensions element could not be completed until caveat was removed.  Further clarification had been sought from Deloitte as to the anticipated timetable.  The second area was a largely national issue.  An issue regarding infrastructure assets had been identified.  A large number of councils had been adding expenditure to infrastructure assets without derecognising the asset that it was replacing, so the balance was effectively increasing year on year without recognition.  CIPFA had established a Task and Finish Group to agree a way forward.  Until an approach had been agreed it was not known what work was required. 

·       A final Audit Results report would be provided once all issues had been resolved.

·       Members noted the fee table and the fact that the Public Sector Audit Appointments had not yet determined for the fee for 2019/20.  It was hoped that this would be resolved in the near future.

·       Councillor Gee asked for clarification of the reference to the Annual Governance Statement and the WGA Data Collection Tool.  Helen Thompson explained that it was the data collection exercise undertaken by Government each year.  It would have also been reported on previously.  However, this year there had been a delay by Treasury  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2021 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive the Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2021

Minutes:

The Committee received the Statement of Accounts 2020/21.

 

During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:

 

·       The Interim Assistant Director Finance requested that the Committee agree the reports and the accounts and delegate the final sign off of the final adjustments and the final matters that remained outstanding, to the Chairman of the Audit Committee in conjunction with the S151 Officer, pending anything significant arising in which case a further report would be taken to the Audit Committee.  Councillor Gee expressed concern that this recommendation was being tabled at the Committee meeting.  It was clarified that a similar approach had been taken the previous year.

·       Members wished for the outstanding issues around pensions and the infrastructure assets to be resolved before the Statement of Accounts be presented to the Committee, as opposed to the Chairman of the Committee in conjunction with the S151 Officer.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Statement of Accounts year ended 31 March 2021 be noted and the completed accounts be brought back to the Committee once the outstanding issues around Pensions and infrastructure assets, be resolved.

63.

Annual Governance Statement 2020/21 - Update pdf icon PDF 289 KB

To receive the Annual Governance Statement 2020/21 – Update.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the Annual Governance Statement 2020/21 update.

 

During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:

 

·       Councillor Ross asked if the Committee would be updated when the update of the HR policies was finally completed and was informed that they would be.

 

RESOLVED:  That the update on the improvement actions arising from the 2020/21 Annual Governance Statement be noted.

64.

Corporate Plan Annual Review pdf icon PDF 270 KB

To receive the Corporate Plan Annual Review.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Corporate Plan Annual Review.

 

During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:

 

·       Members questioned why the Plan was being presented to the Committee when it had been agreed by Full Council, limiting the opportunity for input.  The Chairman explained that it was good practice that it was considered alongside the Annual Governance Statement, which would typically be considered earlier in the year.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Council’s activity and output over the last year be noted.

65.

2022/23 Internal Audit Charter pdf icon PDF 299 KB

To receive the 2022/23 Internal Audit Charter.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the 2022/23 Internal Audit Charter.

 

During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:

 

·       Members were advised that one of the requirements of the Public Sector Audit Standards was to have a terms of reference for Internal Audit.  This included a formally defined Internal Audit purpose, authority, scope, responsibilities, and reporting lines.  It required approval by the Audit Committee.

·       The refresh had taken into account the new Internal Audit service going forwards from 1 April 2022 and incorporated the recommendation from the LGA Peer Review that the reporting lines for Internal Audit be clarified.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Internal Audit Charter be approved.

66.

2021-22 Internal Audit and Investigation Progress Report (to 28 February 2022) pdf icon PDF 385 KB

To receive the 2021-22 Internal Audit and Investigation Progress Report (to 28 February 2022).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the 2021-22 Internal Audit and Investigation Progress Report (to 28 February 2022).

 

During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:

 

·       The report helped to enable the Chief Audit Executive (role fulfilled by Head of Internal Audit and Investigation) to give an overall opinion on the Council’s internal control, governance and risk management framework at the end of the financial year.

·       The team had been progressing through a period of transition due to the dissolution of the Shared Audit and Investigation Service, which was to take place on 31 March 2022 and the new Internal Audit and Investigation Service which would be established from 1 April 2022.

·       Councillor Sargeant asked whether any outstanding work would automatically transfer to the next year’s plan and was informed that it was hoped that the majority of work would be completed and that there would be minimal carry forward.

·       Councillor Shepherd-DuBey noted that external specialist support had been sourced for the Climate Emergency audit and asked how it was determined whether external resources were required.   The Lead Specialist Internal Audit and Investigations indicated that there was a framework agreement in place to ensure that the appropriate specialist skills could be procured.  So far as possible work was undertaken in house, but this was supported, where required, with specialist technical expertise to enhance the audit.

·       Councillor Shenton noted that the Council had been assessed as having the 22nd best Climate Emergency Action Plan of more than 400 local authorities in the UK and Northern Ireland.  However, it had been reported previously that it had had the 8th best.  He questioned what had caused this drop and was informed that further information had been taken into account across all the local authorities.  Further clarification and information would be sought from the service department.

·       Councillor Gee expressed concern that the SEND audit was being deferred due to staff changes in the directorate.  The Lead Specialist Internal Audit and Investigations indicated that a review was being undertaken internally but that she would discuss the matter with the service.

·       Councillor Gee was concerned that there were separate audits on equalities matters and questioned what overview would be in place.  She was informed that the annual report would provide more detail.

·       Councillor Gee wanted to see the highest level of audit opinion achieved for the Cash and Bank Reconciliation audit.  The Lead Specialist Internal Audit and Investigations indicated that all reconciliations across the Council were currently being reviewed and the outcome of that audit work would be provided to the Committee when completed.

·       Councillor Ross queried why the progress report was up to the end of February and was informed that it was to provide Members with the most up to date position at the time of reporting and that the Annual Report would include the last month of the financial year. This would be presented to a future meeting of the Audit Committee.

·       The Lead Specialist Internal Audit and Investigation clarified what information  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66.

67.

2022/23 Internal Audit Investigation Plan and Strategy pdf icon PDF 328 KB

To consider the 2022/23 Internal Audit Investigation Plan and Strategy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the 2022/23 Internal Audit Investigation Plan and Strategy.

 

During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:

 

·       Members were advised that the Plan and Strategy aimed to reflect the new approach to Internal Audit and Investigation work and service redesign from 1 April 2022. 

·       The Internal Audit Strategy supported the Plan and explained the high level aims of the Audit Plan, the approach taken to its preparation, the resourcing of the Plan’s delivery, intended reporting arrangements, and how compliance with professional standards would be ensured.

·       Members noted the proposed audit topics for 2022/23 which had been prepared with the Corporate Leadership Team and managers.  The aim was to have better links to and focus on the Council’s Corporate risks, the Annual Governance Statement Improvement Plan, actions from the Peer Review where appropriate, and areas highlighted by the wider Auditing network.

·       Councillor Gee praised the layout of the report.  She went on to question whether staffing levels in the Finance Team could be considered under the Financial Resilience/Compliance with CIPFA Financial Management Code audit.  The Lead Specialist Internal Audit and Investigations indicated that this could be discussed in the audit scoping meetings with the Interim Assistant Director Finance to consider whether it would be appropriate to include this. Councillor Younis questioned whether staffing levels in the Finance Team were considered a risk and whether it was on the risk register. 

 

RESOLVED: That the 2022/23 draft Internal Audit and Investigation Plan and Strategy be approved.

68.

Draft Annual Report Audit Committee 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 235 KB

To receive the Audit Committee Annual Report 2021-22.

Minutes:

The Committee received the draft annual Audit Committee report 2021-22.

 

During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:

 

·       Members agreed that the report be updated to highlight that the Committee had deferred the agreement of the Statement of Accounts, prior to its consideration by Council.

 

RESOLVED: That the draft Audit Committee report 2021-22 be noted.