To consider a report from Deloitte.
Members considered the planning report for the year ending 31 March 2020 from Deloitte.
Ian Howse from Deloitte presented the report highlighting the significant audit risks to members.
The Executive Director – Corporate Development advised the committee that the 2018/19 Accounts for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, West Dorset District Council and North Dorset District Council had now been signed off by the Chairman and himself. The delay had been due to the complexity of the transition into the new Council, combined with the new External Auditor needing time to get up to speed. However, his team were already preparing for this year’s accounts.
One member expressed concern regarding Risk 6 – Value for Money and felt it looked as if there had been very little progress made. He felt this could potentially be a reputational big risk and asked how members could gauge improvement. Mr Howse, Deloitte advised that his job was to look across the whole year with the aim to bring back areas where progress has been made and where there are still areas of concern. His experience suggested this was more of a long-term project.
The Chairman advised that he had spoken with SWAP officers earlier to ask them to attend future committee meetings in order to give more assistance to members. He thought it might also be helpful for a representative from Deloitte to attend meetings quarterly. Mr Howse advised that there plans in place for an interim report in March following the interim audit. He was happy to attend as and when members wished but was unlikely to produce a draft report for July due to time constraints. The Chairman welcomed those and felt whilst members still had concerns about finances, this would go some way to address this.
In response to a request for reassurance in terms of value for money in areas of expenditure in respect of Children’s Services relating to one individual, Mr Howse advised that the work that auditors did on value for money only looked at high level arrangements that the council had in place. The way the system worked at the moment they would not be looking at benchmarking at that level. The focus was on the numbers that were in the accounts which didn’t go into that level of detail. Cllr Christopher asked for a letter to be sent to the Chairman from Deloitte confirming these arrangements.
The Corporate Director – Legal and Democratic Services advised members of the potential next steps with regards to Risk 6 in that the value for money conclusion element of the opinion on the accounts would be qualified. If there was a significant risk be questioned whether it would be for the auditors to follow through or would it be for the Overview and Scrutiny Committees to take forward as there was mention of this in their terms of reference. The Vice-Chairman felt members needed to be assured that they had the right methods in place and felt it was for the Scrutiny Committees to take forward and for the Audit Committee to then review.
One member felt it would be appropriate for the People Scrutiny Committee to look at the Blueprint for Change programme and for Audit to then see how the project had gone and if there had been any lessons learned.
In respect of the Deloitte approach to materiality the Chairman asked where the 1.7% had come from. Mr Howse advised that the range was usually between one and two per cent, it was purely a judgement factor and would be reassessed throughout the audit.
1. That Deloitte write to the Chairman confirming the level of detail in the accounts regarding the Value for Money risk.
2. That Overview and Scrutiny Committees take forward the detail on the Value for Money risk.
3. That a report on the Blueprint for Change Programme be added to the Forward Plan.
4. The Clerk to send meeting dates to Deloitte for them to establish when they will report back to members.