Agenda

Audit and Governance Committee - Thursday, 2nd December, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Suite, Civic Centre, Poole BH15 2RU. View directions

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence from Councillors.

2.

Substitute Members

To receive information on any changes in the membership of the Committee.

 

Note – When a member of a Committee is unable to attend a meeting of a Committee or Sub-Committee, the relevant Political Group Leader (or their nominated representative) may, by notice to the Monitoring Officer (or their nominated representative) prior to the meeting, appoint a substitute member from within the same Political Group. The contact details on the front of this agenda should be used for notifications.

 

3.

Declarations of Interests

Councillors are requested to declare any interests on items included in this agenda. Please refer to the workflow on the preceding page for guidance.

Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.

4.

Confirmation of Minutes pdf icon PDF 311 KB

To confirm and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting held on 28 October 2021.

5.

Public Issues

To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution. Further information on the requirements for submitting these is available to view at the following link:-

https://democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/documents/s2305/Public%20Items%20-%20Meeting%20Procedure%20Rules.pdf 

The deadline for the submission of public questions is 25November 2021.

The deadline for the submission of a statement is 12.00 noon on 01 December 2021.

The deadline for the submission of a petition was 12.00 noon on 17 November 2021.

6.

2020/21 Statements of Accounts and Audit Findings Report

Members of the Committee are asked to note that the external audit of the Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2021 for BCP Council has not yet reached a sufficient level to present materially accurate accounts to the Audit and Governance Committee alongside Grant Thornton Audit Finding Report. The delay has arisen due to a combination of factors including:

• the impact of COVID-19 on both the complexity of the audit and pace at which it can be completed;

• the continued inherent complexity and disclosure requirements of Local Government financial reporting;

• the increased assurance work that auditors are required to carry out nationally with respect to pensions and asset valuations.

This situation is allowed for under statutory regulations. A notice of the delayed audit can be found on the Council’s website confirming the delay in publishing our audited 2020-21 Statement of Accounts in line with publication date of 30 September 2021. For context, over 90% of local authority audits for 2020/21 missed the 30 September deadline.

The Council is continuing to work closely with the external auditor to ensure the required work is completed as soon as possible and can be presented to the Committee as soon as possible.

 

 

7.

Report of the Constitution Review Working Group - Changes to the Constitution pdf icon PDF 271 KB

The report summarises the issues considered by the Constitution Review Working Group and sets out a series of recommendations arising from the Working Group for consideration by the Committee.

Any recommendations arising from the Committee shall be referred to full Council for adoption.

This report is to be considered by a special virtual non-decision making meeting on 1 December 2021 which shall be live-streamed for the public viewing, and subsequently at the ordinary meeting of the committee on 2 December 2021. The outcome of the virtual meeting shall form the basis of the recommendations on 2 December.

Additional documents:

8.

BCP Council Parks Governance Arrangements pdf icon PDF 1 MB

There is currently a varied legacy of inherited (from previous Councils) parks governance arrangements and there is a case to seek to simplify and reduce these variations for the sake of clarity, efficiency and effectiveness.  Some arrangements have origins in Acts or Agreements that cannot be ignored or replaced without proper legal and financial due diligence, options appraisal and decision made at the appropriate level.

Some governance arrangements, such as Board meetings for the Lower Gardens Trust, have been impacted by the covid 19 pandemic and have not yet been reintroduced although a provisional date is now being sought for December 2021

Where charitable accounts are required, they have been produced, externally audited and submitted to the Charity Commission.

Separately the grant-funded Future Parks Accelerator Project will develop a range of options for the Council to consider, as to how parks could be governed and maintained for the wider benefit and use by communities for generations to come.     

The Monitoring Officer agrees with the Environment Service that external support is required to support a legal focused review of existing parks governance arrangements in BCP.

Although not yet finalised, the overall opinion of the recently conducted internal audit work is likely to be one of ‘Partial Assurance’ meaning there are weaknesses in the control framework which are putting service objectives at risk.  Confirmation of the final opinion will be reported to Audit & Governance Committee in the Internal Audit Quarterly Update Report at the 13 January 2022 meeting.

9.

Process for the appointment of external auditors 2023/24 to 2027/28 pdf icon PDF 490 KB

This report sets out proposals for appointing the external auditor to the Council for the accounts for the five-year period from 2023/24.

The report concludes that the sector-wide procurement conducted by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) will produce better outcomes and will be less burdensome for the Council than a procurement undertaken locally because:

·        collective procurement reduces costs for the sector, for individual authorities and ultimately the taxpayer compared to a multiplicity of smaller local procurements;

·        if it does not use the national appointment arrangements, the Council will need to establish its own auditor panel with an independent chair and independent members to oversee a local auditor procurement and ongoing management of an audit contract;

·        it is the best opportunity to secure the appointment of a qualified, registered auditor - there are only nine accredited local audit firms, and a local procurement would be drawing from the same limited supply of auditor resources as PSAA’s national procurement; and

·        supporting the sector-led body offers the best way of to ensuring there is a continuing and sustainable public audit market into the medium and long term.

If the Council wishes to take advantage of the national auditor appointment arrangements, it is required under the local audit regulations to make the decision at full Council. The opt-in period starts on 22 September 2021 and closes on 11 March 2022. To opt into the national scheme from 2023/24, the Council needs to return completed opt-in documents to PSAA by 11 March 2022.

The Chief Internal Auditor’s recommended approach is to opt into the national auditor appointment scheme which is endorsed by the Chief Executive, Chief Finance Officer and Monitoring Officer.  It is also the LGA’s view that the national framework remains the best option for councils.

Additional documents:

10.

Audit & Governance Committee Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 215 KB

This report sets out the reports to be received by the Audit & Governance Committee for the 2021/22 municipal year.

Additional documents: