John Scott, Audit Manager:
a) presented the Internal Audit Plan 2019-20 for consideration and approval, as detailed at Appendix A to his report
b) advised that the plan had been developed using a combination of the Council’s Combined Assurance Model, an assessment of risk, consultation with senior management and issues raised by Audit Committee
c) reported that the Internal Audit Plan should focus on the key risks facing the Council, be adequate to support the Head of Audit opinion taking into account key risks facing the Council when developing the plan, achieving a balance between setting out the planned work for the year and retaining flexibility to changing risks and priorities during the year, via a regular review of any changing activity and risks
d) drew members’ attention to the areas proposed for auditing as detailed at Appendix B to his report
e) advised that as part of the review of the medium term financial strategy, along with other services, it was proposed to reduce the Audit Plan by 50 days from 450 to 400 in 2019/20, the excess days being sold on at no impact to existing staff
f) invited members’ questions and comments.
Members considered the content of the report in further detail, making comments as follows:
· There seemed to be quite a lot of areas marked as ‘red’ within the Audit timetable of activities
· Officer Response: The areas marked as red did not necessarily point to a poor service, however, higher at risk assessment.
· Were officers confident to be able to provide the same service delivery with a 50 day reduction in the Audit Plan?
· Officer Response: The service would not be exactly the same as it would be reduced, however, officers were looking at different ways of working to achieve it. Officers were comfortable that the plan still delivered the relevant assurances.
Jane Nellist, Independent Member, referred to a review at Northamptonshire County Council which had revealed a reduction in governance arrangements leading to problems. She asked what procedures were in place to identify potential issues.
Jaclyn Gibson, Chief Finance Officer, emphasised that the authority was satisfied that relevant levels of assurance and audit of areas of key risk could be delivered. Should the Audit Manager feel at any time there was risk of any compromise to this service delivery then levels of assurance would be reviewed. There was a degree of flexibility to allow him to concentrate more on assurance work rather than offering assistance to projects and working groups.
John Scott, Audit Manager, highlighted that there were other councils delivering an Audit Plan at 200 days looking at due diligence only.
Members urged the need to give tighter focus on recommendations remaining outstanding after 6 months.
1. The Internal Audit Plan reduction and associated resources as set out in Section 4 of the officer’s report be agreed.
2. The Internal Audit Plan 2019-20 be approved.
Draft External Audit Plan
This agenda item was deferred to the next meeting of Audit Committee to be held on 27 March 2018.