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To approve the minutes from the Audit Committee held on 30 May 2018.
RESOLVED: The Minutes of the meeting held on held on 30 May 2018 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest
Please indicate if there are any interests which should be declared. A declaration of an interest should indicate the nature of the interest (if not already declared on the Register of Interests) and the agenda item to which it relates. If a disclosable pecuniary interest is declared, the Member should withdraw from the room whilst the matter is discussed.
These declarations apply to all Members present, whether the Member is part of the meeting, attending to speak as a local Member on any item or simply observing the meeting from the public seating area.
Urgent Business Under Standing Order 7
To consider any business which, by reason of special circumstances, the Chairman proposed to accept as urgent under Section 100(b)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.
Members Present Pursuant to Standing Order 34
Members wishing to speak pursuant to Standing Order 34 should inform the Chairman of their intention to do so and on what items they wish to be heard before the meeting commences. Any Member attending the meeting under Standing Order 34 will only be permitted to speak on those items which have been previously notified to the Chairman
None, although Councillors L Bambridge and S Fraser were attending for the training session.
Chairman's Correspondence (if any)
The Chairman reported that he had attended the Cabinet to present the report on the effectiveness of the Audit Committee, and spoke about the Audit Committee training plans. He explained that he hoped to get some overall Audit Committee training in place which could be the obligatory training for Members, and other training would be arranged according to subject matters required.
All Councillors have been invited to attend for this item.
The Committee received training from the Group Accountant on the Statement of Accounts.
The Committee agreed that in future years, when the draft accounts were issued in May a full training session should be provided shortly after. When the final accounts were agreed an update training session should be held on the changes since the draft was issued.
Please be advised that the covering report is attached to the Agenda.
The following documents will follow:
2. Statement of Accounts for 2017/2018
In presenting the ISA 260 report, the External Auditor, Dan Cook, advised that the audit of the Borough Council had been completed for the year ended 31 March 2018 and that the outstanding matters listed in their report had now all been concluded. He confirmed that they were issuing an unqualified audit opinion on the financial statements in the form at Section 3. He acknowledged the assistance given by the S151 Officer and her team to carry out the audit, particularly with the new deadline of 31 July 2018 for the closure of accounts. He considered that it was a good Audit outcome.
Ernst and Young advised that the report was intended solely for the use of the Audit Committee, other Members of the Authority and senior management; it should not be used for any other purpose or given to any other party without obtaining the External Auditor’s consent.
The Committee’s attention was drawn to the following items:
· All of the items listed as requiring completion had now been finalised.
· Some issues had been corrected, but there were no unadjusted figures.
· There were no additional areas of Risk identified that were not already included in the report.
· The comments on the pension fund were the same for all Councils and was a difference in the reporting periods of the Actuary and the Pension Fund.
· He had made a recommendation that procedures be reviewed prior to submission of the draft.
· No risks were recognised in the value for money element of the audit.
· The health check for the Council’s balances in 2021 was looking positive.
· He confirmed that Ernst and Young were still independent from the Council.
· He drew attention to the additional fees that they would be charging for which would have to be agreed with the PSAA.
Ernst & Young, the Group Accountant and the Executive Director responded to questions on the Statement of Accounts and the ISA260 relating to:
· The long term debt written off was from Morston Assets who had gone into liquidation owing contributions to the Council for developments.
· The earmarked reserves could be used at a later date, they had been increased over recent years to take into account the financial situation.
· He confirmed that provided all the points and adjustments raised by the auditors had been completed the accounts were materially correct.
· He agreed that checking had been carried out but some issues were identified with plant and equipment.
· In response to the increase in fees and the point made about the potential for working closer with the internal auditors and using the information they had produced so bringing down the costs. He said they would continue to consider the option but internal audit worked from samples and the external auditors needed to carry out a substantive audit.
· It was confirmed that there should be brackets round the figure in the table on p54.
· The related party transactions showed there had been a small number of undeclared transactions, all of which had been rectified.
· The ... view the full minutes text for item A25
In presenting the report, the Senior Policy and Performance Officer reminded the Committee that the preparation and publication of an Annual Governance Statement (AGS) was a statutory requirement. The AGS was a public statement that described and evaluated the Council’s overall governance arrangements, in particular how it had complied with its Code of Corporate Governance during a particular financial year.
The key issues were outlined as set out in the report and an amendment on p54 was pointed out: row 2 should read Fenland, not Breckland.
On approval of the Statement, the Chairman signed the document.
RESOLVED: 1) The Committee confirmed that the 2018 Annual Governance Statement properly reflected the risk environment and that actions required to improve it were in hand.
2) The Committee approved the 2018 Annual Governance Statement and confirmed that the Chairman of the Audit Committee should sign accordingly.
The Committee considered the report which reminded Members that the Council had formally adopted the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s Code of Practice on Treasury Management (2009) and remained fully compliant with its requirements. As such there was a requirement to make an annual review of its Treasury operation for the previous year.
This Annual Treasury Outturn Report looked backwards at 2017/2018 and covered:
1. The 2017/2018 Treasury Outturn
2. Compliance with Treasury Limits
3. Outturn Summary:
In summary the Council:
o Did not pursue any debt rescheduling as long term loans were reviewed against future long term rates and early repayment penalties.
o Ensured counterparty listings on our lending lists were maintained and updated regularly, and reported in monthly monitoring reports as necessary.
o Ensured priority was given to security and liquidity in order to reduce counterparty risk. This was achieved by adopting Link Asset Services methodology of using ratings from three agencies to provide the core element of the credit watch service with outlooks and credit default swaps spreads to give early warning signs of changes, and sovereign ratings to select counterparties.
o Undertook benchmarking with other local Councils to ensure that experiences were shared and investment instruments were consistent, while maintaining good credit quality and security.
Additional supporting information was provided as follows:
Appendix 1 - Investments as at 31 March 2018
Appendix 2 - Borrowing as at 31 March 2018
Appendix 3 - Property Investment Portfolio as at 31 March 2018
Appendix 4 - Prudential Indicators
Appendix 5 - The Economy2017/2018
The Council’s Treasury Policy Statement 2017/2018 and Annual Treasury Strategy Statement 2017/2018 were approved by Cabinet on the 28 February 2017.
The Group Accountant responded to questions on :
· Short term borrowing to assist with cash flow at year end.
· Loaning out finances to other organisations
· The workings around the payment of debt against the Council’s income stream
· The inability to take out loans for Revenue purposes, only Capital.
· The NWES situation would be considered in due course.
RESOLVED: That the Actual Treasury Outturn 2017/2018 be approved.
To note the Committee’s Work Programme for 2018/2019.
The Committee work programme was noted.
A discussion ensued on the budget monitoring report and it was agreed that rather than automatically putting it onto the agenda each time, Members of the Committee would be invited to raise any training or explanatory issues arising from the Report and they would be included within the agenda.
Date of Next Meeting
To note that the date of the next meeting of the Audit Committee will take place on 17 September 2018.
The meeting on 17 September 2018 would be converted into a training session for the Committee.