To consider a report by the Chief Officer Financial Services which seeks the Committee’s approval of the Council’s final audited Statement of Accounts and to consider any material amendments identified by the Council or recommended by the auditors.
The Chief Officer Financial Services submitted a report which sought the Committee’s approval of the Council’s final audited Statement of Accounts
and to consider any material amendments identified by the Council or recommended by the auditors.
Members were informed that Grant Thornton anticipate being able to issue an unqualified opinion on the 2019/20 Statement of Accounts, with an Emphasis of Matter paragraph relating to the material uncertainty surrounding property asset valuations at 31st March 2020 arising from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on property markets, and also to material uncertainty in respect of the valuation of private equity and pooled property fund assets held by the West Yorkshire Pension Fund at 31stMarch 2020. Members were informed;
· There were expected to be no material unadjusted audit differences affecting the financial statements;
· The final audited accounts would include adjustments to the 2018/19 reported position to reflect a change in the accounting treatment of the £27.3 m received during 2018/19 from the council’s investment in Merrion House LLP;
· The review of the Annual Governance Statement had concluded that it was not misleading or inconsistent with information they are aware of from their audit of the financial statements, and that it complies with CIPFA/SOLACE guidance;
· Grant Thornton anticipate issuing an ‘except for’ opinion in relation to the use of resources - that the Council had made proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources except for a weakness in the level of its General Fund Reserves to deal with significant unforeseen circumstances.
· An updated copy of the statement of accounts was included with this report. The accounts would be certified by the Chief Finance Officer as a true and fair view of the Council’s financial position as at 31st March 2020 prior to the Committee being asked to approve them.
· As the conclusion of the audit was delayed beyond the statutory date of 30thNovember, a notice had been published on the Council’s website to explain that publication of the final audited accounts is delayed.
· During the 2019/20 public inspection period, no objections were received from local electors.
Commenting on the feedback following the FCR review of local authority audit quality for 2018/19, Mr Gareth Mills (Grant Thornton) confirmed that the review had included 6 Grant Thornton audit files. Whilst the review had found good quality in the value for money (VFM) element of audits, concerns had been raised over financial statement audit work, in particular in relation to the valuation of property, plant and equipment. Mr Mills confirmed that a significant level of training had been undertaken and further training had already been arranged to take into account the increased workload following the 2019/20 audit.
Mr Mills confirmed that all the necessary resources and training were in place for the forthcoming 2020/21 audit.
Referring to the FRC Review of audit quality for 2019/20 the Chair asked that once concluded, could the findings of the review be notified to this Committee.
Mr Gareth Mills confirmed that once received, the findings of the FRC Review would be shared with this Committee.
The Chair thanked officers and representatives of Grant Thornton for their attendance and contributions
(i) To receive the final report of the Council’s external auditors on the 2019/20 accounts and to note that there are expected to be no unadjusted audit differences to the accounts
(ii) To approve the final audited 2019/20 Statement of Accounts, the Chair acknowledging approval on behalf of the Committee by signing the appropriate section within the Statement of Responsibilities on page 1 of the submitted accounts.
(iii) On the basis of the assurances received, the Chair to sign the management representation letter on behalf of the Corporate Governance and Audit Committee.
(iv) To note Grant Thornton’s anticipated conclusion on the use of resources, and their associated recommendations in relation to the Council’s ability to deliver a balanced outturn position for 2020/21 and a realistic budget for 2021/22.