Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: The Forum, Moat Lane, Towcester, Northants NN12 6AD

Contact: Sharon Hickson, Democratic and Elections  Email: sharon.hickson@cherwellandsouthnorthants.gov.uk, 01295 221554

Items
No. Item

2.

Declarations of Interest

Members are asked to declare any interest and the nature of that interest which they may have in any of the items under consideration at this meeting.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman for the Municipal Year 2019/20

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)          That Councillor Hywel Davies be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Audit Committee for the municipal year 2019/20.

Minutes:

Resolved

 

(1)          That Councillor Hywel Davies be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Audit Committee for the municipal year 2019/20.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 67 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meetings of the Committee held on 14 March 2019 and 15 May 2019.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meetings of the Committee held on 14 March 2019 and 15 May 2019 were agreed as correct records and signed by the Chairman.

5.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive communications from the Chairman.

 

Minutes:

There were no Chairman’s announcements.

6.

Internal Audit - Annual Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Report of the Assistant Director, Finance, Procurement & Property

 

Purpose of report

 

To receive CW Audit Services annual report for 2018/19 in relation to their internal audit work undertaken during 2018/19.

 

Recommendations

            

The Audit Committee is recommended:

 

1.1       To note the contents of the 2018/19 annual report from CW Audit Services.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)          That the 2018/19 annual report from CW Audit Services, the council’s internal auditor, be noted.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director, Finance, Procurement & Property submitted a report which presented CW Audit Services annual report for 2018/19 in relation to their internal audit work undertaken during 2018/19.

 

Anand Persaud, CW Audit Services, the council’s internal auditor, introduced the annual report and advised the Committee that internal audit opinion fed into the Annual Governance Statement, which Members would consider as a later agenda item. The Annual Report was very positive and the internal audit overall opinion was that significant assurance could be given, which was an improvement on the previous two years. There were some weaknesses, but these were being addressed by the senior management team.

 

Resolved

 

(1)            That the 2018/19 annual report from CW Audit Services, the council’s internal auditor, be noted.

7.

External Audit Update pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Report of the Assistant Director Finance, Procurement and Property

 

Purpose of report

 

To provide an update on the timing of the 2018/19 final accounts audit.

 

Recommendations

            

The Audit Committee is recommended to:

 

 1.1        Note The delayed timeframe for the audit of the 2018/19 Statement of Accounts

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)          That the delayed timeframe for the audit of the 2018/19 Statement of Accounts, which was due to resource issues on the part of the council’s external auditor, Ernst Young, be noted with concern and disappointment.

Minutes:

Neil Harris, Ernst Young, the council’s external auditor, gave a verbal update advising the Committee that unfortunately the external audit work would not be complete for the account sign off deadline of 31 July 2019. The reason for the delay was largely due to staff shortages at EY and concerns that the quality of external audit could be compromised as there was not adequate staff and senior manager resource to complete the audit of the accounts. This was the same position for all councils across Northamptonshire and EY had advised all Chief Finance Officers across the county to advise of the situation as soon as it arose.

 

Neil Harris explained that Public Sector Audits had been involved in the process and were aware that South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) would not meet its statutory obligations by 31 July 2019. SNC could publish its accounts without the audit opinion but with an accompanying letter setting out that resource constraints at EY was the reason for the delay to the audit opinion. The timetable to complete the work to be undertaken had been reviewed and would commence from 5 August with an anticipated finish in early September. The Committee had a meeting scheduled for 19 September and it was anticipated that the accounts could be signed off at this meeting.  

 

The Assistant Director: Finance, Property & Procurement advised the Committee that the Chief Executives across Northamptonshire had collectively written to EY to express their disappointment. Whilst it was good that the council had been made aware early, it was not a good situation to be in, but the best would have to be made of it. In terms of financial implications and compensation for the delay, whilst the external audit fee was set by Public Sector Audit, compensation had been requested. 

 

In considering the external auditor’s update, the Committee commented that they had no choice but to accept the situation however they felt let down and that it further tainted the council and Northamptonshire as a whole. Members commented that it was a frustrating position to be in as the SNC Closedown team and senior finance managers had worked extremely hard to ensure the accounts were completed on time and expressed concern and disappointment at the delay to the timetable which was due to no fault on the part of SNC.

 

In response to Members’ queries as to why the delay was for councils in Northamptonshire, the external auditor explained that there was a higher level of staff absence in this area which impacted on resource to complete the work and it imperative that the quality of the audit was not compromised.

 

Resolved

 

(1)            That the delayed timeframe for the audit of the 2018/19 Statement of Accounts, which was due to resource issues on the part of the council’s external auditor, Ernst Young, be noted with concern and disappointment.

8.

DRAFT Statement of Accounts and Annual Governance Statement 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 65 KB

** Please note that the appendix to this report will follow as it is currently being reviewed and finalised **

 

Report of the Assistant Director Finance, Procurement & Property

 

Purpose of report

 

To receive a report is to ask members to consider and note the DRAFT Statement of Accounts 2018/19 and consider and endorse the Annual Governance Statement 2018/19.

 

Recommendations

            

The Audit Committee is recommended to:

 

1.1         Consider and note the DRAFT Statement of Accounts 2018/19.

 

1.2         Consider and endorse the Annual Governance Statement 2018/19.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)          That, having given due consideration, the DRAFT Statement of Accounts 2018/19 be noted.

 

(2)          That, having given due consideration, the Annual Governance Statement 2018/19 be endorsed.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director Finance, Property & Procurement submitted a report to ask members to consider and note the draft Statement of Accounts 2018/19 and to consider and endorse the Annual Governance Statement 2018/19.

 

The Assistant Director Finance, Property & Procurement commended the Finance Team for their hard work in producing the draft statement of accounts in a timely manner for submission to members which was a significant improvement on previous years. Members endorsed the comments and thanked the Assistant Director Finance, Property & Procurement and the Closedown Team for their hard word in producing the accounts in a timely manner.

 

The Assistant Director Finance, Property & Procurement gave an overview of the draft Statement of Accounts 2018/19 and the Annual Governance Statement advising that the overall conclusion was that it was a positive statement.

 

In response to members’ comments regarding the provision of an ‘easy read’ version of the accounts, the Assistant Director Finance, Property & Procurement confirmed that she would raise with colleagues in the senior management team and consideration would be given as to how finance and performance information could be disseminated in a user friendly and concise manner.

 

Resolved

 

(1)            That, having given due consideration, the DRAFT Statement of Accounts 2018/19 be noted.

 

(2)            That, having given due consideration, the Annual Governance Statement 2018/19 be endorsed.

9.

Review by Those Charged with Governance pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Report of the Assistant Director Finance, Procurement & Property

 

Purpose of report

 

To set out the response to Ernst & Young (EY) regarding the review of management assurance.

 

Recommendations

             

The Audit Committee is recommended to:

 

1.1         Approve the response relating to management assurances from Those Charged with Governance at Appendix 1

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

            

(1)               That the response relating to management assurances from those Charged with Governance (annex to the Minutes as set out in the Minute Book) be approved.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director Finance, Procurement & Property submitted a report which set the response to Ernst & Young (EY) regarding the review of management assurance.

 

In introducing the report, the D Assistant Director Finance, Procurement & Property confirmed that letter would be signed at the time the statement of accounts were finalised.

 

Resolved

            

(1)            That the response relating to management assurances from those Charged with Governance (annex to the Minutes as set out in the Minute Book) be approved.

10.

External Audit - Annual Audit Fees 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Report of the Assistant Director Finance, Procurement & Property

 

Purpose of report

 

To note the indicative audit fee for 2019/20.

 

Recommendations

            

The Audit Committee is recommended:

 

1.1       To note the contents of the letter setting out the indicative annual audit fees for 2019/20 from the Councils External Auditors, Ernst & Young (EY).

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)               That the contents of the letter setting out the indicative annual audit fees for 2019/20 from the Councils External Auditors, Ernst & Young (EY) be noted.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director Finance, Procurement & Property submitted a report to note the indicative external audit annual audit fee for 2019/20.

 

Resolved

 

(1)            That the contents of the letter setting out the indicative annual audit fees for 2019/20 from the Councils External Auditors, Ernst & Young (EY) be noted.

11.

Urgent Business

The Chairman to advise whether they have agreed to any items of urgent business being admitted to the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

12.

Exclusion of Press and Public

The following item contains exempt information as defined in the following paragraph of Part 1, Schedule 12A of Local Government Act 1972.

 

7 – Information relating to any action taken or to be taken, in connection with the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime

 

Members are reminded that whilst the following item has been marked as exempt, it is for the meeting to decide whether or not to consider it in private or in public. In making the decision, members should balance the interests of individuals or the Council itself in having access to the information. In considering their discretion members should also be mindful of the advice of Council Officers.

 

Should Members decide not to make a decision in public, they are recommended to resolve as follows:

 

“That under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that, if the public and press were present, it would be likely that exempt information falling under the provisions of Schedule 12A, Part I, Paragraph 7 would be disclosed to them, and that in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.”

Minutes:

Resolved

 

That under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that, if the public and press were present, it would be likely that exempt information falling under the provisions of Schedule 12A, Part I, Paragraph 7 would be disclosed to them, and that in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

13.

Progress of Counter Fraud Service

Exempt report of Senior Investigation Officer – Corporate Fraud Team

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)          That the current performance of the Corporate Fraud team be noted.

 

(2)          That the future work plans and the impact that this would have on future performance and income to the authority be noted.

Minutes:

The Senior Investigation Officer – Corporate Fraud Team submitted an exempt report which provided an overview of the current progress of the Authority’s counter fraud response following the delegation of authority in July 2018 to Oxford City Council.

 

Resolved

 

(1)            That the current performance of the Corporate Fraud team be noted.

 

(2)            That the future work plans and the impact that this would have on future performance and income to the authority be noted.