The Council’s External Auditor will submit a report summarising the key issues identified during the audit of the Financial Statements for the year ended 31st March, 2019 for the Authority and on the assessment of the Authority’s arrangements to secure Value for Money.
The Committee considered a report of the External Auditor (Grant Thornton) which had been submitted in accordance with International Standard on Auditing 260, the External Audit Governance Report 2018/19. Mr G Mills (Engagement Lead) and Mr T DeZoysa (Engagement Manager) attended the meeting to present the report.
The report incorporated, amongst other things, the following:
· The Financial Statements, including the significant audit risks, findings, area of audit focus and judgements and estimates, the going Concern assumption and other responsibilities under the Code
· The Value for Money Conclusion
· The Accounts Production and audit process
· The current position with regard to the completion of the audit of the financial statements
Appendices to the report provided the following:
· The Action Plan to address issues identified
· The Audit Adjustments
· The audit fees charged for the audit and the provision of non-audit services
· The proposed audit opinion – it was anticipated that the Group and Council would be provided with an unmodified/clean; audit opinion by 31st July, 2019
In relation to the Financial Statements, the report summarised the key findings in relation to the 2018/19 external audit. Subject to all outstanding issues being resolved to their satisfaction it was anticipated that an unqualified audit opinion on the Authority’s financial statements would be issued before the deadline of 31st July, 2019 following consideration by the Council on the 25th July, 2019.
Two adjustments had been identified as being of a significant nature and these were included within Appendix B. In addition some recommendations for management had been identified and these were detailed within Appendix A.
In relation to Value for Money, two key areas of focus included:
· Financial Standing – the delivery of the 2018/19 budget and savings plan and the achievement of the medium Term Financial Strategy
· The arrangements in place for the Glassworks development
The External Auditors had concluded that the Council had proper arrangement in place to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources around these two risks. In addition, appropriate arrangements were in place in relation to the management of the Council’s Financial Position and in the governance, risk management and financial management of the Glassworks scheme to date.
The External Auditors had completed the majority of work under the Code and expected to be able to certify the conclusion of the audit once they had completed the review of the Council’s Whole of Government Accounts return. It was anticipated that the audit certificate would be issued by the National Audit Office Whole of Government Accounts deadline of 31st August, 2019.
Finally, thanks were expressed to officers and members for their continuing help and co-operation throughout the audit work.
The presentation engendered a full and frank discussion during which matters of a detailed and general nature were raised and answers were given to Members questions where appropriate.
The following issued were referred to:
· The amount of work to be undertaken prior to the 31st July, 2019 was not uncommon for an Authority the size of Barnsley. In addition, since the report had been produced a number of those issues had already been addressed.
· There was a discussion of the significant findings and particularly
o as this related to the McCloud judgement in relation to the fire service pensions scheme. Given the change in liability resulting from this decision, the Council had agreed to process the adjustment of around £12m on receipt of the updated IAS19 report which was considered to be an appropriate adjustment to the Council’s financial statements
o The prior period adjustment in relation to the disposal of the Horizon school building. It was noted that this adjustment did not affect the final 2018/19 closing Balance Sheet Position for the Council; rather the accounting treatment for the disposal was undertaken in the incorrect year
· Reference was made to the difficulties caused to both the External Auditors and the Authority by the change in the deadline for the submission of the ISA report, AGS and Statement of Accounts.
· There was a discussion of the way in which the fixed asset register was compiled and of the benefits that an appropriate software application could provide. This matter was under constant review
(i) That the External Auditor’s Report 2018/19 be received and referred for consideration by the Council to be held on the 25th July, 2019;
(ii) That the Auditor’s findings on the effectiveness of the Council’s internal controls and the conclusion on the Council’s arrangements for securing Value for Money be noted; and
(iii) That the Committee place on record their thanks and appreciation for the hard work of the External Auditor and the Service Director Finance and his Team in this process.
RECOMMENDED TO FULL COUNCIL ON THE 25th JULY, 2019:-
(i) That the External Auditor’s Annual Governance Report 2018/19 be approved;
(ii) That the findings on the effectiveness of the Council’s internal controls and the conclusions on the Council’s arrangements for securing Value for Money be noted; and
(iii) That the findings from the audit work in relation to the 2018/19 financial statements be noted and accordingly, the final accounts 2018/19 be approved.