Agenda and draft minutes

Performance, Governance and Audit Committee - Thursday 16th November 2023 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Maldon District Council Offices, Princes Road, Maldon. View directions

Contact: Committee Services  Email: committee.clerk@maldon.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

314.

Chairperson's Notices

Minutes:

The Chairperson went through some general housekeeping arrangements for the meeting and welcomed external attendees:

 

  • Mr Aaron Winter, Director, BDO
  • Mr Andrew Billingham, Internal Audit Manager, BDO
  • Mr Paul Hewitson, Associate Partner, Deloitte LLP
  • Mr Temitope Odunsi, Manager, Deloitte LLP
  • Mr Paul Brookes, Director of Sustainable Communities, Chelmsford City Council

 

315.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

There were none.

316.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 292 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Performance, Governance and Audit Committee held on 28 September 2023, (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 28 September 2023 be approved and confirmed.

317.

Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 285 KB

To receive theattachedschedule thatrecordstheactionstaken inrespect of mattersarising from thepreviousCommittee,(copyenclosed).

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Matters Arising from the minutes be noted.

318.

Disclosure of Interest

To disclose the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, Other Registrable interests and Non-Registrable Interests relating to items of business on the agenda having regard to paragraph 9 and Appendix B of the Code of Conduct for Members.

 

(Members are reminded that they are also required to disclose any such interests as soon as they become aware should the need arise throughout the meeting).

Minutes:

There were none.

319.

Public Participation

To receive the views of members of the public, of which prior notification in writing has been received (no later than noon on the Tuesday prior to the day of the meeting).

 

Should you wish to submit a question please complete the online form at: www.maldon.gov.uk/publicparticipation.

Minutes:

No requests had been received.

320.

Report of the External Auditor on the Audit for the year ended 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 111 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committeeconsidered the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer that provided the Council’s External Auditor, Deloitte, with the opportunity to report the key findings of their audit to those charged with governance, prior to issuing their opinion on the 2020/21 Statement of Accounts and the report for the year ended 31 March 2021 at Appendix 1.

The Chairperson introduced the report and deferred to the Interim Chief Finance Officer to provide the context. She advised that this Committee under its Terms of Reference was charged with reviewing the External Audit opinion attached at Appendix 1 and then invited the Associate Partner from Deloitte to take the Committee through the report.

He drew Members’ attention to the key points in the report. It was noted that based on the work concluded to date the auditors were able to issue an unqualified audit opinion on the affairs of the Council for the year ending 31 March 2021. The reasons for the delay in completion of the accounts were outlined in the report and included issues relating to valuations, infrastructure assets, cashflow, a significant correction in the accounts relating to covid revenue etc. all of which were successfully concluded as a result of the hard work of all involved. There were no significant weaknesses which in audit terms was a good outcome. 

The Associate Partner then addressed the issue of the audit fee which on the 20 August 2020 had been set at £99,580, subsequently reduced to £88,580 due to a revised scope and now, taking into account the further additional work and hours involved, the final proposed audit fee was £99,500 in total. In conclusion he advised on next steps in relation to the fee approval process in that Deloitte, the External  Auditor will provide a fee proposal to the Council to seek agreement. The Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) Ltd will adjudicate on what constitutes a fair fee, Deloitte will submit their proposal to the PSAA in early January 2024 setting out the premise for the fee variation and the PSAA will then seek the Council’s opinion on the audit fee level.

 

The Chairperson then moved the recommendation which was duly seconded and opened the discussion.

In response to issues raised Officers provided the following information:-

  • That whilst there were policies in place around asset management they were not fully documented, therefore, work was now underway on a solid Asset Register.
  • That Deloitte will work on the Statement of Accounts until 2022/23 and KPMG will then take over as the Council’s External Auditor for the 2023/24 accounts.
  • That the reason most authorities experienced difficulties in accounting for the Covid grant revenue was that Government didn’t provide clear guidance on which grants should be treated as ‘agent’ and which as ‘principal’.
  • That work on the 2021/22 accounts was underway and it was hoped to finalise pre-Christmas with priority given to the Value for Money aspect of the work.

In response to a comment from the auditor regarding uncorrected misstatements in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 320.

321.

Statement of Accounts - 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 114 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer that advised the latest position on the external audit of the Statement of Accounts and presented the draft Statement of Accounts for 2020/21, which included the Annual Governance Statement, (subject to audit) at Appendix 1 that were the subject of ongoing external audit work.

 

The Chairperson introduced the report and deferred to the Interim Chief Finance Officer to present the detail. She drew Members’ attention to the Statement of Accounts at Appendix 1 to be considered in light of the External Auditor’s opinion received by the Committee. She asked that given the unqualified opinion that there were no significant findings to address, delegated authority be given to the Interim Chief Finance Officer to sign-off the Statement of Accounts and Letter of Representation, in consultation with the Committee Chairperson following the meeting.

 

There being no further discussion, the Chairperson moved the recommendation and it was seconded by Councillor Thomson. She then put the recommendation to the Committee and it was agreed by assent.

 

RESOLVED that delegated authority was given to the Interim Chief Finance Officer in consultation with the Chairperson of Performance, Governance and Audit Committee for the final approval of the Statement of Accounts for 2020/21, including the Annual Governance Statement, and Letter of Representation.

322.

Internal Audit Report

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer and associated Internal Audit reports from BDO LLP, attached on the agenda from 9a to 9g, Progress Report; Follow-up of Recommendations; Cyber Security Audit; Equality, Diversity and Inclusion; Management of S106 Funds Audit; Sickness and Absence Management Audit and Licensing Audit.

 

The Chairperson introduced the reports, reminded Members that a response from Chelmsford City Council on the Licensing audit at Agenda Item g) had been circulated prior to the meeting and then deferred to BDO to present the detail. The first report on the agenda was the Progress Report which summarised the 2022/23 audit plan and evidenced solid progress on the 2023/24 internal audit programme, overall a good management response with four audits on this agenda and a number of audits already in fieldwork and draft report stage prior to Christmas. These will be submitted to the March meeting of the Committee and the annual audit opinion was on track for summer 2024. All recommendations for 2019/20 in the Follow-up-of Recommendations Report were completed, one remained overdue for 2020/21 but this was on track to meet the revised implementation date of 31/03/2024 and two recommendations overdue for 2021/22 were also on track to meet their revised implementation date of January 2024.

The Cyber Security Audit attained an opinion of substantial on design and moderate on operational effectiveness. The Council had a number of preventative controls and effective policies in place to monitor this area. Human input had improved with a lot of work undertaken to ensure all staff were trained. This was a positive opinion particularly given the subject area. In response to questions the Assistant Director Resources advised that both Staff and Members’ online cyber security training was being monitored through a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and completion rates were high. This was imperative as the Council, like other organisations, was under constant threat from cyber-attack. She said she would issue a reminder to Members to address those who had not yet completed the suite of training modules.

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) report did not generate an audit opinion as it was advisory in nature, assessing the Council’s maturity of policies, plans and actions and advising on longer term ambitions. It was noted that due to the advisory nature of the recommendations they would not form part of the standard follow-up programme and that EDI was of great interest to staff therefore conducive to staff retention. The Assistant Director Resources informed the Committee that the Council had requested this report to provide a framework for future evolution in this area and that the Council’s structure would be amended in the report to ‘Committee’ as opposed to ‘Cabinet.

The Management of S106 Funds Audit  attained an audit opinion of moderate in both design and operational effectiveness. It was noted that the scope of the audit was to review and assess the effectiveness of the management of Section 106 funds, this included the collection of payments against the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 322.

323.

Any other items of business that the Chairperson of the Committee decides are urgent