Report by Devon Audit Partnership (attached).
The Committee considered a report by Devon Audit Partnership regarding the Internal Audit progress report for 2020/21 (circulated previously).
The Committee was advised of the following in relation to the Internal Audit Progress Report 2020/21:
· An opinion of Reasonable Assurance had been given for 2020/21.
· Six audits had been completed.
· Risk Management Review had not been included but had also achieved ‘Reasonable assurance’
· All of those complete to date had been at a level of Reasonable Assurance, with one (Income collection) reaching ‘Substantial’.
· An updated Assurance map would be presented to the Committee in March 2021.
· As a result of Covid-19 it had been agreed to defer some non-core audits into 2021/22.
· During December 2020 two audits were taken forward to provide assurance on safe working operations during the pandemic. Risk assessments were ongoing, and a staff survey had recently been issued. The assurance opinion was to be confirmed.
· The bulk of the revised audit plan was expected to be completed by the financial year end.
· Work had started on the plan for 2021/22. This would include any works not completed during the 2020/21 plan.
· The plans had been adjusted across all partners as the lockdowns had occurred.
· A new approach was being considered for 2021/22 which was more flexible as priorities and risks changed.
· Works on Cyber Security would commence in February 2021. The Government had identified Ransomware as a particular concern.
In response to questions from the Committee, the following was advised:
· The amounts involved in the journal adjustments were not large and similar arrangements were in place in many Authorities. The Auditors had no undue concerns regarding these checks.
· A journal was an internal movement of funds by a system of cost codes. The Accountancy Manager reviewed any in excess of £10,000.
· There would be no reduction in Audit fees as a result of the reduction in days of work performed by the Auditors.
· Policies and arrangements designed to prevent and reduce fraud, such as on Pay and Display, and Benefits, were being examined. If there were concerns over additional works such as Covid grants this could be undertaken if required.
The Chief Executive advised that audits such as Climate change, Cyber Security, and Covid security were especially relevant at present and would add value to the Authority’s operations. The ability to target audits as required was welcomed. The experience and advice of the Auditors was beneficial.
The Committee discussed the advantages of appointing an independent member to the Governance Committee. The Committee noted that whilst the idea was well received there could be difficulty in appointing someone with the right skill set and experience to the role.
The Chief Executive added that there would be a need for an amendment to the Authority’s Constitution which would allow the Committee to both appoint an independent member but also to function without one if the situation arose.
The Committee thanked the Auditors for their report which they had found to be comprehensive and easy to understand.
RESOLVED that the Internal Audit Progress report be noted.