Issue - meetings

External Auditors Report - Warwickshire County Council Financial Year 2023/24 Audit Plan

Meeting: 14/03/2024 - Audit and Standards Committee (Item 4)

4 External Auditors Report - Warwickshire County Council Financial Year 2023/24 Audit Plan pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members received a report which identified Grant Thornton’s audit plan and fees for the County Council for the 23/24 financial year.  Harkamal Vaid, Grant Thornton, introduced the report, highlighting that this was a similar audit plan to last year with no further significant risks that warranted additional testing.

 

Harkamal Vaid referred to the valuation of land and building and pension liabilities, explaining that any change in valuation could have a material impact on the accounts and recognised the need to rebut the risk for these items.  He also referred to the timings of the audit, of which the planning work was complete and officers were satisfied they would be in a position to report in November 2024.

 

The Chair asked for confirmation that Grant Thornton would, therefore, not be able to meet the statutory September deadline.  Harkamal Vaid confirmed this was correct, as in previous years, the external auditors were still looking to catch up on the backlog of work but were confident they would be in a position to complete the audit by the end of the calendar year.

 

In relation to the major IT audit, the Chair asked if this would include the testing and security of systems and the susceptibility to malicious attack.  Harkamal Vaid confirmed that the audit would focus on the design and implementation of controls but would include cyber security.

 

Robert Zara, Independent Member, queried the fee increase and asked if this would enable the auditors to perform work more efficiently and speedily.  Harkamal Vaid explained that the fee was not set by Grant Thornton but by Public Sector Audit Appointments Limited (PSAA).  PSAA felt that the original fee, set some years earlier, was no longer reflective of the complexity or demand of work now being seen. Harkamal Vaid gave assurance that the firm would be completing work to the highest quality and complying to auditing standards.

 

The Chair suggested that the Council may wish to raise this with PSAA as it did not appear that there would be an improvement in quality or timeliness of the work.  Therefore, he queried the justification for doubling the fee as there may not be any measurable change to the submission date or quality of the audit from last year.  The Executive Director for Resources, Rob Powell, agreed that this could be done.

 

Councillor Shenton felt this was a clean report with minor issues highlighted but no significant issues.  He also raised the dramatic increase in the scale fee.

 

Rob Powell reiterated Grant Thornton’s comments that this was felt to be a correction made to fees across the sector, as these had been low for some time but agreed with the comments that the accounts were overly complex and the work was disproportionate to the value that it added.  He stated his disappointment with the higher fee, bearing in mind the other financial pressures being felt across the Council.

 

Councillor Feeney noted the significant risks identified with the Pension Fund and raised a query with the number  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4