(Report AG002 refers)
The Chair welcomed to the meeting Antony Harvey and Beverly Davies from Southern Internal Audit Partnership.
Mr Harvey presented this item which, in summary, was a backward look over the previous year of work delivered by the Southern Internal Audit Partnership with regards to the Council. Mr Harvey reported that that were no ‘No Assurance’ opinions within the report and the key observations made during the year were summarised on page 8 of his report (Appendix to Report AG002). Areas of Limited Assurance were set out at the end of annex 1 to his report, namely; HR – Use of Agency Staff, Health & Safety and Main Accountancy (including Reconciliations). He described to the Committee how the particular matters raised by the respective audits were now being positively progressed.
In response to a question, the Strategic Director (Resources) advised that the Council’s Anti Fraud and Corruption Policy would be updated to reflect changes to officers in the organisation.
The Finance Manager also responded to questions of the Internal Audit’s Limited Assurance opinion with regard to bank reconciliation processes. In summary, an audit had been requested by officers to review existing procedures given an increase in the number of different income streams to the Council (an increasingly wide-range of payment methods is being offered for services, for example e-payments). Following the audit and improvements made as a result, officers were now confident that reconciliation processes were now more robust. Mr Harvey also explained that while the report showed that there had been Limited Assurance, this was the case when the report was published. He was happy that officers continued to take appropriate action and if required, the audit actions could be followed up on as part of the work plan for 2019/20.
The Chair clarified that the framework of the Internal Audit programme of work was agreed annually in March by this Committee.
In noting that a member of the committee had particular concerns that were considered could be included in the auditor’s work programme, Mr Harvey advised that in certain cases, there could be deviation from the agreed Plan, such as where a particular matter had been raised during the subsequent year. The Strategic Director (Resources) also highlighted that the committee considered the future audit plan in March each year and could include specific audit reports then, but that specific queries should be directed through existing reporting mechanisms e.g. member/officer protocol and other reporting already mentioned in the meeting. Mr Harvey was satisfied that the scope of the work undertaken during the previous year was enough to have achieved the audit opinions as set out.
Councillor Gottlieb advised that he would not be agreeing to accept the Annual Report and Opinion as he had concerns with regards to particular areas of the Council’s work that he considered should have been audited during the previous year.
That the Chief Internal Auditor’s Annual Report and Opinion for 2018 - 19 attached as Appendix 1 to the Report be accepted.