Venue: Kennet Room - County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN. View directions
Contact: Tara Hunt Senior Democratic Services Officer email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To receive any apologies or substitutions for the meeting.
Apologies were received from:
· Cllr Antonio Piazza
· Cllr Pip Ridout
· Cllr Stuart Wheeler
Minutes of the Previous Meeting
To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 23 November 2023.
The minutes of the meeting held on 23 November 2022 were presented for consideration and it was,
To approve and sign the minutes as a correct record.
Declarations of Interests
To receive any declarations of disclosable interests or dispensations granted by the Standards Committee.
There were no declarations of interest.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman.
The Chairman informed Members of the sudden passing of Helen Jones, Director of Procurement and Commissioning at Wiltshire Council. Her impact and time as part of the Council and as an occasional guest at Audit and Governance Committee meetings was noted and the Chairman expressed his heartfelt condolences to her friends and family on behalf of the Committee.
Additionally, the Chairman notified Members that the Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) had appointed Grant Thornton UK LLP as the new external auditors from the financial year 2023/24 to 2027/28.
If you would like to make a statement at this meeting on any item on this agenda, please register to do so at least 10 minutes prior to the meeting. Up to 3 speakers are permitted to speak for up to 3 minutes each on any agenda item. Please contact the officer named on the front of the agenda for any further clarification.
To receive any questions from members of the public or members of the Council received in accordance with the constitution.
Those wishing to ask questions are required to give notice of any such questions in writing to the officer named on the front of this agenda no later than 5pm on 1 February 2023 in order to be guaranteed of a written response. In order to receive a verbal response questions must be submitted no later than 5pm on3 February 2023. Please contact the officer named on the front of this agenda for further advice. Questions may be asked without notice if the Chairman decides that the matter is urgent.
Details of any questions received will be circulated to Committee members prior to the meeting and made available at the meeting and on the Council’s website.
There were no public statements or questions received.
Independent co-opted member
To receive a report on the appointment of an independent co-opted member to the Committee.
The Chairman noted that since agenda publication, the new Independent Co-Opted Member had advised that due to personal circumstances they were unable to undertake the role and as such, an update would therefore be provided to the Committee at their next meeting. The Chairman requested that Panel Members liaise with Lizzie Watkin, Assistant Director - Finance, after the meeting with any queries.
Internal Audit Reports
To receive an internal audit update report from SWAP.
The Chairman invited Sally White, SWAP representative, to present the Internal Audit Reports to the Committee.
Members were informed that an ongoing “reasonable opinion” had been offered as a result of the recent reviews undertaken. However, two “limited assurance” opinions had been issued, these were the Pension Key Controls and ICT Network Boundary Defences and could be considered significant corporate risks. There were also three previous significant corporate risks. These were Category Management, Procurement Exemptions and the Pension Fund Review. Follow up work was being undertaken on Category Management and Procurement Exemptions and SWAP would report on progress against those in due course. For the Pension Fund Review, SWAP were not yet assured issues had been resolved as minimal progress had been made. The audit had progressed from no assurance to limited assurance. However, SWAP had confidence that improvements would be made and again they would update the Committee in due course. Follow up work would also be undertaken on the Pensions Payroll Reconciliation Project. Regarding the ICT Network Boundary Defences audit, Wiltshire Council ICT Assistant Director would be taking action to mitigate the risks swiftly with a further update and report to follow at a future date.
The Audit Plan coverage detailed on Page 32 of the Agenda Pack was then highlighted which provided information on audit coverage across the Council. It was noted that SWAP had been providing a list of outstanding management actions to the Committee. But from the April Committee onwards it was hoped that they could present the data graphically, and this could be used as a performance measure.
Members were then given the opportunity to discuss the report and ask questions to SWAP and Council officers. Adult Social Care was raised with regard to its inclusion within the Audit Plan coverage and Members expressed concerns surrounding procurement and staffing costs. It was highlighted that the area of adult transformation was undergoing significant work, and it was suggested that Members could attend the Health Select Committee or read the reports included within their agenda packs for further insight. SWAP also confirmed that they would be liaising with the council’s Corporate Directors and could explore the addition of work respecting brokerage and the care market.
The Wiltshire Pension Fund audits were then discussed, and Members sought further details on the differences between the responsibilities of the Pension Fund and the Committee concerning the issues identified. In response, officers confirmed that although the Committee was charged with ensuring that governance was adhered to, the Wiltshire Pension Fund Committee (WPFC) had a greater understanding of the topics being scrutinised and as such, it would be best for the Committee to receive a formal report from the WPFC updating Members on such matters. The Committee suggested the Chairman of the WPFC attend to provide assurance. It was further clarified that it was the responsibility of the Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) and Fund managers to assess risk profiles when the market landscape changes and to meet any challenges arising through ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Wiltshire Pension Fund final report for 2020 audit
To receive the Wiltshire Pension Fund final report for the 2020 audit from Deloitte.
The Chairman invited Ian Howse, Deloitte representative, to present the Wiltshire Pension Fund final report for the 2020 audit.
It was explained that Deloitte give their opinion on the Council’s annual Statement of Accounts (SoA) and as part of their audit remit give a further opinion on the Pension Fund’s accounts. As the two accounts were connected then one could not sign off Pension Fund accounts separately from the SoA. It was noted that Deloitte were lobbying government to potentially change this.
It was further noted that the Pension Fund audit with reference to scheme year 2019/20 was close to being completed but the significant delays on the Council SoA 2019/20 had postponed the sign off. As such, as soon as the Council’s SoA was completed the Pension Fund’s audit opinion would follow. However, it was stressed that the landscape had dramatically changed since that financial year and as such, an element of hindsight was in effect which management could not have taken advantage of when predicting their figures for that year.
One significant risk was identified with respect of the management override of controls. Further areas of focus as per the report were then noted alongside reference to the 2018 Guaranteed Minimum Pension (GMP) equalisation court ruling which Deloitte confirmed had not been estimated for the Fund as of yet as the GMP information was still in the analysis stage and therefore, no amount had been recognised within the financial statements. Overall, Deloitte were proposing very few adjustments and referred to their approach to materiality as outlined in the report, and noted that they had no real concerns, but it was ultimately the Committee’s decision to determine if they were satisfied that the level of materiality was appropriate for the scope of the audit.
Members queried why the GMP equalisation was yet to be addressed alongside the McCloud adjustments and in response, it was noted that this was due to the triannual nature of the public sector and the fact that neither amount was material enough to warrant recognition within the financial statements as a provision. It was further noted that there were a number of control weaknesses which had been identified and were being worked on, with the addition of an extra area of audit focus. In response to a further question, Deloitte confirmed that they would provide an answer outside of the meeting with regard to Members’ personal liability respecting the upcoming changes to the Notifiable Events regime as detailed on Page 61 of the Agenda Pack. However, Perry Holmes, Director, Legal and Governance, highlighted that it was the Committee as a body that ultimately made decisions and not the individual, and as they sit within the overall function of the Council, they have the indemnity to deliver their role so long as the decisions were within the bounds of reasonableness.
At the conclusion of the discussion, a proposal was made by Cllr Mark Connolly and seconded by Cllr Gavin Grant. After which, ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Forward Work Programme
To note the Forward Work Programme
The Forward Work Programme was presented for consideration, and it was noted that the officers were working hard to ensure that the Statement of Accounts for 2019/20 would be ready for the next meeting of the Committee. However, Members were informed that the national issue in respect of assets had raised some complex issues that were taking longer to resolve than anticipated which meant that said timescale may not be met but it was reiterated that officers were working tirelessly in an attempt to prevent such an eventuality. Furthermore, once that account was signed off it should resolve the flagged internal issues which would therefore create a solid basis was in place for further accounts.
After which, it was:
The Committee noted the Forward Work Programme and requested that the ICT Network Boundary Defences audit and a report from the Pensions Committee on their audits be added to the plan.
Date of Next Meeting
To note that the next regular meeting of the Committee will be held on 26 April 2023 at 10.30am.
The date of the next ordinary meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee was confirmed as 26 April 2023 at 10:30am.
Any other items of business, which the Chairman agrees to consider as a matter of urgency.
There were no urgent items.