Decision Maker: Audit, Standards and Governance Committee
Made at meeting: 12/04/2022 - Audit, Standards and Governance Committee
Decision published: 11/05/2022
Effective from: 12/04/2022
Mr N. Preece, Manager, Grant Thornton presented the External Audit Plan 2020/2021 for consideration by the Committee. During the presentation the following was highlighted for Members’ attention:
· Grant Thornton had tried to present a balanced plan for the year 2020-2021 recognising the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was reported that the Statement of Accounts for 2020-2021 would be available by the end of May or early June 2022. Delays had been experienced due to levels of staffing.
· The significant risks were identified within the report and included the following:
Management over-ride of controls – it was clarified that there was no suggestion that this practice had taken place however it was important for auditors to remain sceptical and look at all risks with rigour.
New financial ledger implementation – It was reported to Members that all of the data had been successfully migrated to the new ledger.
Staffing within the finance department
· Value for Money arrangements had been changed for the year ending 2020/21 and the National Audit Office had introduced a new code of Audit Practice. This meant that there would be a wider scope and more in-depth reporting required around the specific reporting criteria of improving economy, efficiency and effectiveness, financial sustainability and governance. The risks linked to these criteria were reported to Members within the report and mitigations were being undertaken to address these. However, it was confirmed that due to the increase in detailed work this would result in an increase un audit fees, as outlined within the report.
The Executive Director for Resources informed Members that this was an important report for Members to consider at a difficult time for the Finance team who were not currently fully staffed. There had been a recruitment drive in this team, but it was recognised that the current recruitment market was difficult and competitive. There was another round of recruitment due to be carried out in order to fill the vacancies across the Finance team. Members were concerned about the difficulty of recruiting into the vacant posts and were informed that there was a pay differential with the private sector which had impacted on the ability to recruit. In addition to this the Covid-19 pandemic had enabled people to work from home and therefore there had been an increase in the ability to work in areas where larger salaries could be paid e.g. London and Birmingham without having to incur any travel costs.
Some Members queried whether the Shared Service agreement across Bromsgrove District and Redditch Borough Councils had negatively impacted the amount of work that officers could carry out on behalf of Bromsgrove. Assurance was given to the Committee that this was not the case, and in fact having shared services across both Councils had been beneficial as it had meant that information sharing was much easier.
RESOLVED that the Grant Thornton - External Audit Plan 2020/2021 be noted.