Agenda item

External Auditor - Audit Plan 2020/21


Paul Dossett (External Auditor – Grant Thornton) and Justine Thorpe (Grant Thornton) presented the External Audit – Audit Plan 2020/21 report. The following key points were highlighted to Members:



the Audit Plan was originally presented to committee in 2021 however had been updated by the external auditor to ensure the information regarding the VFM risk assessment was correct;



the audit planning for the 20/21 audit was almost complete and auditors were starting the fieldwork on 5 December 2022 for the audit itself. Even though the external auditor had not been able to sign off the 19/20 accounts for the council, assurance was provided that the auditors were starting work for the 20/21 accounts and it was hoped to be completed by late spring. The 21/22 audit would be conducted later in the year.


In response to questions raised it was reported that –



in April 2020 the council engaged in a hedging option with Santander Bank; as it was considered an unusual transaction, the external auditor raised two issues: firstly the governance process of approving such transactions, and secondly how it was accounted for in the 20/21 accounts. There was complicated accounting for the hedging instruments; this was still under discussion with the council. There was an option of ‘fair value through profit and loss’ and also the option through ‘other comprehensive income’. If the hedging option investment was considered through the option of ‘fair value through profit and loss’ then if the value of the investment went up or down, the gain or loss played through the general fund accounting. Currently there was a statutory override to prevent that from happening however this statutory override was due to end on 31 March 2023. Both CIPFA and DLUHC  were in discussion over the statutory overrides;



there were arrangements in place clarified by DLUHC in terms of prudential borrowing for local authorities and all local authorities should borrow within the means to pay back. It was important that the council ensured its debt was well managed. The external auditor considered the overall level of minimum provision was circa 2% which was not unreasonable – the external auditor considered the minimum revenue and debt management was not unreasonable in totality however urged caution in the significant growth of debt;



the Section 151 Officer continued to regularly consider its capital programme and investments and was confident it was properly controlled;



the training session offered to Audit and Governance Committee Members approximately 18 months ago regarding their roles and responsibilities and how they proactively undertook their duties would be arranged for the benefit of new members; this would be considered as part of the inclusion into the Member Development Strategy as well as for the development of scrutiny panel members.


The Committee agreed:



That a training session upon the roles and responsibilities of the Audit and Governance Committee would be arranged for the benefit of new members, and would also be considered as part of the inclusion into the Member Development Strategy as well as for the development of scrutiny panel members;



to note the External Audit – Audit Plan 2020/21.




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