Venue: County Hall, Worcester
Contact: Simon Lewis Committee Officer
The members had before them the Agenda papers (previously circulated).
Apologies and Named Substitutes (Agenda item 1)
An apology was received from Dr A J Hopkins.
Mr A I Hardman substituted for Dr A J Hopkins.
Declarations of Interest (Agenda item 2)
Public Participation (Agenda item 3)
Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Director of Resources in writing or by e-mail indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 12 October 2017). Further details are available on the Council’s website. Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address below.
The Committee considered the Annual Statutory Financial Statements for the year ended 31 March 2017.
John Gregory and Helen Lillington from Grant Thornton, the Council's external auditor introduced the Audit Report findings and made the following points:
· Since the last Committee meeting, further work was necessary to amend the reference in the Accounts in relation to Exit Packages and to improve the evidence in relation to some aspects of the 'telling the story' changes. This time-consuming work had now been completed and the Accounts had been amended to the satisfaction of the external auditor and it was anticipated that an unqualified audit opinion would be provided
· Following further necessary administrative work, it was anticipated that the external auditor would be in a position to sign off the audit opinion on the Accounts by 17 October 2017
· As reported to the last meeting there were three adjustments which officers had declined to make. Since that time, officers had come to an understanding of how one of these issues arose and had now decided to amend it. Another, which had been shown as an unexplained difference, had also now been resolved as a result of the restatement of note 1.09
· It had been noted in previous years’ audits that the Council needed to improve its arrangements for accounting for property, plant and equipment. Whilst the issues that arose from this work did not have a material impact, further action was needed to ensure that information on assets was reliable and consistent.
In the ensuing debate, the following principal points were raised:
· Members of the Committee could now be assured that all the outstanding issues relating to the Statement of Accounts had been resolved. Officers and representatives of Grant Thornton should be thanked for their work in finalising the Accounts
· What actions were necessary after the Council missed the statutory deadline for publishing the Accounts? John Gregory advised that the external auditor was required to inform the Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) of any late opinions. The PSAA would then publish a list of late opinions which would also be copied to the Secretary of State
· The external auditor had not made any reference to the comments in the Ofsted report that the Council had demonstrated strong political support to the changes in Children's Social Care. John Gregory responded that it was not possible to include everything in the summary which had been written some time ago
· There was no evidence to suggest that the difficulties experienced with the signing off of the Accounts this year were systematic. The Committee would be receiving a report on the lessons learned at a future meeting
· The Committee thanked Sean Pearce for his contribution to the work of the Committee and wished him well for the future.
a) the External Auditor update letter be noted;
b) the Final Accounts Pack including the Statement of Accounts for the financial year ending 31 March 2017 be approved; and
c) the Chief Financial Officer be authorised to ... view the full minutes text for item 434.