To receive a report from the Deputy Chief Executive (S151) presenting the FINAL version of the annual Statement of Accounts to Members, highlighting any areas which have been amended since the draft accounts were published on the website and presented for external audit in July.
The Committee had before it a report * from the Deputy Chief Executive (S151) presenting the final version of the annual Statement of Accounts to Members, highlighting any areas which had been amended since the draft accounts were published on the website and presented for external audit in July.
The Corporate Manager for Finance requested that the Statement of Accounts and Grant Thornton’s Audit Findings report be taken as one item since they were so closely linked. This was agreed by the Chairman.
It was explained that there had been some minor changes to the draft Accounts previously reviewed by the Committee in July. Some were minor corrections to narrative, grammar and improving the explanation of the values within the Accounts. However, there was a change to the treatment of the upfront Pension Payment for the secondary contribution (deficit recovery payment). In the draft accounts, this had been treated as a prepayment as the payment covered the 3-years of this pension tri-annual valuation. However, in consultation with Grant Thornton, this had been amended and instead of being treated as a prepayment, it was now shown in the pension liability. In making this change, there had also been a change in the value of the pension charge to services for the year. Therefore, there were a number of minor movements in value throughout the accounts. These were highlighted in yellow to make their identification easy.
These alterations made no impact on the reported Outturn position or the Council’s Usable Reserves.
Grant Thornton stated that the outstanding issues reported to the last meeting had now been resolved. All requested information had been received and corrections made where necessary. As such an unqualified opinion had been issued on the Council’s financial statements.
It was further explained by the external auditors that:
· They had undertaken significant analysis in relation to the risks identified within the Group Accounts and how effectively the recommendations had been implemented with regard to 3 Rivers.
· They would be looking at the 3 Rivers Business Plan and how well it aligned with the Council’s strategies.
· A Value For Money Opinion would be issued within 3 months and would be reported to the March Audit Committee.
· All adjustments within the Financial Statements had been processed hence the unqualified opinion.
Consideration was given to:
· What could be done to simplify the accounts and their presentation. It was explained that the Council had to follow the rules and regulations as specified by the statutory bodies, however, it had been acknowledged by the Redmond Review that there was a deal of complexity involved in the layout of local authority accounts which also impacted on the subsequent audit burden. A recommendation had been made by the Redmond Review to provide accounts at a simpler summary level going forwards. It was further explained that perhaps Members could receive more accounts training and better narrative provided by officers within the documents presented to them for approval.
The signatures required for the Accounts, Balance Sheet, Letter of Representation and the Annual Governance Statement were stated. It was confirmed that the formally appointed Chairman of the Audit Committee would be required as one of the signatories, not the Chairman appointed for the purposes of this meeting only.
The Corporate Manager for Finance thanked his team for their hard work and diligence in completing the accounts to time during a difficult set of circumstances. This was endorsed by the Committee.
RESOLVED that the annual Statement of Accounts for 2020/21 be approved and that the Letter of Representation be signed by the appropriate people.
(Proposed by Cllr N V Davey and seconded by Cllr A Wilce)
Reason for the decision:
There was a legal requirement to produce and publish audited accounts for the year to 31 March 2021 and for those accounts to be considered and approved by the Audit Committee.
Note: * Report and Statement of Accounts circulated previously.