To consider the attached report including the core functions and membership and to make comment.
To consider the CIPFA Model TOR as a whole and pass comments to the Governance Review Working Group.
That the committee carries out the self-evaluation/effectiveness review following the template in the CIPFA Guidance (in an informal meeting).
21.1 The Democratic Services Manager, Fiona Cameron, introduced the report that referred to previous discussions the Audit Committee had had regarding its Terms of Reference, and perceived areas of overlap with the role of the Value for Money Overview & Scrutiny Committee. The report referred to the 2018 CIPFA Guidance for Local Authority Audit Committees, and compared the Audit Committee’s current Terms of Reference with the Model Terms of Reference proposed by CIPFA.
21.2 The Model Terms of Reference put greater focus on the role of an audit committee in relation to the External Audit function than did Waverley’s currently. The Model also suggested that the Audit Committee membership should be independent of Executive and Scrutiny members; and, should include an Independent Member. The Audit Committee was membership was closely connected with various of Waverley’s Overview & Scrutiny Committees, so a recommendation to follow the CIPFA best practice would have a knock-on effect.
21.3 In addition to considering the Committee Terms of Reference and membership, the Committee were invited to considering undertaking a self-evaluation of their effectiveness as a Audit Committee, using the CIPFA evaluation framework, to inform future development needs of the Committee.
21.4 Jon Roberts, Key Audit Partner, Grant Thornton, advised the Committee that the recently published Redmond Review report dealt with Audit Committees and recommended all Audit Committees should have an Independent Member; he also talked about training arrangements, so the self-evaluation would help to tailor training plans properly. Mr Roberts also noted that there was a gap between the current Terms of Reference and CIPFA recommendations in relation to external audit, and an in-depth review would be beneficial. Whilst there would be a delay before any consequential legislation, it was important that the Committee reflected on the outcomes of the Redmond Report without delay.
21.5 Cllr John Gray referred to the discussions he had initiated as the previous Audit Committee Chairman on the lack of clarity between the roles of the Audit Committee and the Value for Money Overview & Scrutiny Committee, and welcomed the opportunity to continue these in an off-line session to take the matter forward. Cllr Gray was unsure of the role of the Governance Review Working Group in the process of reviewing the Audit Committee Terms of Reference.
21.6 Cllr Michael Goodridge echoed concerns about the role of the Governance Review Working Group; and, as Vice-Chairman of the Standards Committee, highlighted his own concerns about the possible conflict between the roles of the Audit Committee and Standards Committee. He suggested that if the Audit Committee was going to meet informally to consider its terms of reference, it would be helpful to include the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the Standards Committee in that discussion.
21.7 The Committee agreed to note the report, and asked that an informal meeting of the committee be arranged, including the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the Audit Committee, and possibly Value for Money O&S, to discuss the CIPFA Guidance on Terms of Reference and the Redmond Review report.
· Circulate the Redmond Review report to Audit Committee members.
· Informal meeting to be arranged for AC members, plus chair/vice-chair of Standards & VFM O&S to discuss committee ToR in relation to governance issues. Jon Roberts to attend to present on the Redmond report.