To receive and agree the Statement of Accounts 2019/2020.
The Committee is asked to Agree the Statement of Accounts 2019/2020.
24.1 The Strategic Director and S151 Officer, Graeme Clark, introduced the Statement of Accounts for 2019/2020. This was a technical document, the content of which was prescribed in various statutory codes of practice. The Audit Committee members had had an off-line session on the Statement of Accounts a couple of weeks ago to go through the detail of the document.
24.2 Mr Clark reminded the Committee that the timetable for the External Audit and approval of the accounts was normally much tighter, with a deadline of 30 July. This had been extended due to the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Finance team had still managed to publish the unaudited accounts before the end of June, which was a remarkable achievement in the circumstances. Annexe 2 to the report reflected changes to the accounts that had been agreed with Grant Thornton during the course of the External Audit and provided a reconciliation between the published unaudited accounts and the final statement of accounts.
24.3 The Committee was asked to approve the Letter of Representation, which was a standard requirement of the local government audit process; and also the statement of going concern. With regard to the statement of going concern, compared to previous years this had needed strengthening to address the impact of Covid-19 on the council’s finances and medium term financial plan, and on the local economy. Officers had listened to advice from CIPFA and Grant Thornton in order to give the Audit Committee sufficient assurance about the council as a going concern and the accounts being robust.
24.4 Whilst there were still some areas of the external audit to be completed, in the light of the indication from Grant Thornton that an unqualified audit opinion would be issued, Officers recommended that these be dealt with under delegation to the Strategic Director in consultation with the Chairman of the Audit Committee. The Committee noted that the valuation aspect that was outstanding would not have any impact on the General Fund, and Officers were confident of reaching a satisfactory conclusion with Grant Thornton in the coming weeks.
24.5 The Audit Committee commended Officers and the External Audit Team for their work in challenging circumstances to be so far ahead of the deadlines for sign-off of the accounts. The Committee noted that the proposed delegation allowed the Chairman to call an ad hoc committee meeting if he was not happy with the outcome of the outstanding audit issues, and on this basis was content to approve the Statement of Accounts.
24.6 The Audit Committee RESOLVED that delegated authority be given to the Strategic Director (s151 Officer) in consultation with the Chairman of the Audit Committee to consider any changes to the External Audit Findings Report and, if satisfied with the report to make any necessary amendments to the Accounts and/or Letter of Representation, and subject to this:
(i) Approved the Statement of Accounts for the financial year ended 31 March 2020;
(ii) Approved the Letter of Representation for 2019/2020; and
(iii) Confirmed that the accounts had been prepared on a going concern basis
Details of any amendments to the accounts or Letter of Representation would be circulated to the Audit Committee.