Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Members gave consideration to a proposed Internal Audit Annual Plan for 2020/21, presented by the Internal Audit Manager.
The Accounts and Audit Regulations required the Council to undertake an adequate and effective internal audit of its accounting records and of its system of internal control in accordance with proper practices in relation to internal control. Proper Practices were now defined within the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) which had become mandatory for all UK public sector internal auditors from 1 April 2013. The PSIAS affirmed the need for annual risk based audit plans to be developed in order that the Head of Internal Audit could form an annual opinion on the Council’s systems of risk management, governance and internal control.
The draft Internal Audit Annual Plan attached at Appendix 1 to the report had been prepared following review of corporate documents including the Council’s Corporate Risk Register, corporate plans and recent internal audit coverage. In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was important that the Plan remained flexible to respond to changing priorities during the course of the year.
The Plan would be subject to regular review to ensure that it remained appropriate and any revision required would be considered and agreed by the Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) and reported to the Audit Committee, including the need for any additional audit resources, if appropriate. Any request for significant consulting activity by Internal Audit would be considered for approval by the Audit Committee, in line with the requirements of the PSIAS.
The Internal Audit Manager pointed out that this would be another challenging year for local authorities in terms of funding, regulation and also the pressures on service delivery. He drew particular attention to a number of key areas which would require consideration when planning internal audit coverage, namely Covid-19, Post Brexit Transition, Financial Challenges and Staff Changes. He drew attention to the fact that the review of National Non-Domestic Rates had been carried over from 2019/20 due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and advised that Internal Audit would continue to follow up implementation of previous internal audit recommendations throughout the year.
The Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) confirmed that she was content, having discussed and worked on the content together with Internal Audit.
A question was raised with regard to services carried out by contractors who may fail to continue to deliver or complete contracts as a result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources explained that this issue was addressed within the Council’s Business Continuity Plans and logged within the Strategic Risk Register. Officers had been and continued to understand situation with regard to the Council’s main suppliers, for example those running the leisure contact and grounds maintenance contract, and were active in taking steps to understand the implications and where there may be, for example, increased cost or whether the contractor was able to continue delivering the contract. This was being kept under review and the Council would become aware of any situation heading in that direction. The Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) added that there was a Contract Lawyer in the Legal Team who worked closely with the Finance Team, Lead Specialists and Contract Managers. Work was active in this regard and the Team was in the process with some companies, examining contracts and renegotiation terms. She informed Members that the Council looked to support businesses where it could, whilst looking after the Council’s position. Reports were being presented to Cabinet as necessary.
The Chairman asked the meeting if the motion was agreed. There being no dissent, it was
RESOLVED – That the Internal Audit Annual Plan 2020/21, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report, be approved.
Publication date: 15/10/2020
Date of decision: 17/09/2020
Decided at meeting: 17/09/2020 - Audit Committee