To receive the report from Grant Thornton LLP, External Auditors.
The Chair introduced the Engagement Manager from Grant Thornton to the meeting and it was requested the 3 items for Grant Thornton be discussed together due to cross over. With the agreement of the Chair items 6, 12 and 13 were discussed and a summary is below.
The Engagement Manager directed Committee Members to Page 15 -16 of the Update Report and highlighted the key messages on progress.
It was confirmed that work is on schedule and no issues have been identified to date. There are some areas that need to be progressed and the Engagement Manager provided members with some insight on this before it was discussed as part of the report on audit findings to date.
The Engagement Manager talked through the significant risks, highlighted in the audit plan.
· ‘Management override of control’ which links to journals work and work around estimations. The aim is to complete this work by the end of the week and there are currently no issues to bring to the attention of Committee Members.
· Work on Pensions and the significant estimation within the financial statements is in progress and it was confirmed there are no issues to bring to attention of Committee Members. The Engagement Manager highlighted the letter of assurance that comes with this work – Grant Thornton is awaiting this letter in order to complete the work.
· Work on Property, Plant and Equipment – it was confirmed that the aim is to complete the bulk of the work by the end of week. The Engagement Manager highlighted that there are outstanding queries for the Valuer, who is on leave until September. It was confirmed that there are no issues to date that need to be raised with Committee Members.
The Engagement Manager highlighted areas where there are outstanding queries and internal processes need to be completed in order to finalise procedures – Grant Income, Receivables / Debtors, Financial Instruments and Council Tax were some of the more notable areas.
Chair asked for confirmation that Grant Thornton would be providing the pension letter / letter of assurance and queried the delay. The Engagement Manager confirmed that this is the role of a separate auditing team within Grant Thornton, he explained the reason for the delay and provided assurance regarding this piece of work.
The Engagement Manager confirmed Grant Thornton would look to provide the findings of the audit at the September Committee within the Audit Findings Report; so long as the valuer responses and the pension letter of assurance are complete.
The Engagement Manager moved onto the Value for Money section of the Update Report (page 15). It was explained that there had been a substantial change in the amount of work involved due to the introduction of the Annual Auditor Report and the new deadlines introduced to complete this work. However, the aim is for Grant Thornton to be completed for the September Committee meeting.
The Chair queried the proposed cost of the value for money audit and how this change in process will benefit Torridge District Council.
The Engagement Manager highlighted how the process worked and how the new report has been received positively by the Boards and Committees involved. It was stated that the key benefits were the provision of more baseline /benchmarking data and how the report provided a snapshot of all the issues in one place.
He highlighted how Economy Efficiency and Effectiveness benchmarking will be used to look at and challenge particular areas in terms of processes, and this would be used to provide recommendations for improvement going forward.
Chair asked for clarification that the letter, when received, would cover what drives costs, benchmarking and recommendations for improvement and the Engagement Manager confirmed this was correct.
The Engagement Manager highlighted the Audit Scope Letter and referred members to page 207. He clarified that the scope letter updates the audit plan in relation to the audit fee and provided members with a summary.
The Engagement Manager referred members back to the Update Report and mentioned the sector update on page 18 and page 20, which highlights some of the lessons learned and public interest reports.
The Chair asked members if there were any questions and asked the Engagement Manager how the audit is comparing to last year in relation to their requests for information and whether they felt they were requesting more information from the Finance Team.
The Engagement Manager stated he felt that, on a balance, requests were largely the same. It was possible there was an overall increase in requests, but this was to maintain best practice.
The Committee Members duly noted agenda items 6, 12 and 13.