Agenda item


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The Assistant Director, Resources presented the report which provided an update on the External Audit of the Borough Council’s Statement of Accounts and related activity.


Members were advised that the audit of the 2019/2020 accounts had still yet to be undertaken.  It was noted that as at 31 January 2023 the National Audit Office had advised that there were 45 audits from 2019/2020 outstanding.  The Assistant Director explained that the External Auditors were scheduled to attend the King’s Court offices week commencing 24 April 2023.


The Committee’s attention was drawn to the following sections of the report:


·         Section 2:  The Accounts and Audit (Amendment) Regulations 2021.

·         Section 3:  Statement of Accounts 2019/20 and Subsequent Years Update.

·         Section 4:  Improvement Actions and Review:

·         Section 5: Financial Implications.


The Committee was advised that the Council was undertaking preparation work for the External Auditors to complete the outstanding audits.  The Assistant Director explained that there were no outstanding queries for the Borough Council to answer.


The Assistant Director, Resources outlined the concerns raised by the Council and explained that the Council’s three statutory officers (Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer and Section 151 Officer) had written to Ernst Young highlighting the authority’s concerns and requesting a timetable and allocation of resources for all the outstanding audits.


The Committee was informed that officers were still waiting for an update from Ernst Young on the fees for work undertaken to date on the 2019/2020 audit.  So far, only the scale fee had been paid.


In response to a question from Councillor Morley on additional funding being available to external auditors, the Assistant Director – Resources explained that a grant had been given to all local authorities to improve the audit regime, the Council had received £20,000 for 2021/2022 but the Council are already contributing to fees in excess of the £39,000 scale fee where currently fees are estimated around £100,000 but the Council had not been notified as yet of any changes by Ernst Young that will make a difference.  Reference was made to the letter the Council had received from DLUHC but was not sure if the auditors had received one.


Councillor Rust referred to the Serco contract and a condition that a fine could be imposed if the service was not delivered and asked if this could be applied to Ernst Young.  In response, the Assistant Director, Resources explained that this was not just an issue with Ernst Young but was a national issue.  It was also explained that the Council had opted into the PSAA tender exercise to appoint auditors and that Ernst Young had been allocated as the Council’s auditors for the next term.  The contract is with PSAA and the auditors and not with the Council.


The Chair, Councillor Devereux explained that he had raised the issues with regard to the delayed audits with CIPFA at the East of England Audit Chairs Forum at County Hall in Norwich on 2 August 2022.


Councillor Morley commented that only one audit had been signed off in his four year term as a Councillor.


In response to a question from Councillor Collingham, the Assistant Director provided an overview of the process for local authorities to register an interest for PSAA in order to appoint its auditors and achieve economies of scale.


RESOLVED:  The Audit Committee noted the update.


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