Agenda item

Auditor's Annual Report


Sarah Ironmonger  of Grant Thornton introduced the report with the following points:


·  The report was being presented as an interim report, because of some risks identified in 2020-21 as well as some objections to the accounts;

·  She explained to Members that Grant Thornton reported against three criteria: Governance, Improving Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness; and Financial Sustainability. Members were asked to note how the Council implemented the improvements needed to make progress that could be shown in 2023-24;

·  Weaknesses were noted regarding Governance in the previous three years for the Council, however she also noted that the Council had made an action plan moving forward to address these issues. Moving forward, Grant Thornton would like to see these improvements being embedded before they lifted the alert regarding that area of governance;

·  In the area of Improving Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness; Grant Thornton noted that Cabinet did not receive any reports in relation to non-financial performances of the Council in 2021, however improvements had been made in 2022-23;

·  For Financial Sustainability, Grant Thornton noted some issues in 2021-22 and 2022-23, as there were no out-turn reports coming to Members and accounts were delayed, however it was noted that since this report was written, the 2021-22 accounts were published with a time table planned for the publication of the 2022-23 accounts;

·  Grant Thornton also noted the improvements regarding budget setting.


Committee discussion raised the following points:


·  Members raised concerns of the red alerts on the report itself and expressed that in the next year, they would like to see evidence of improvements to change those alerts; especially in the areas of project management, highlighting the overspending of Berths 4 and 5. Officers from Grant Thornton showed optimism for the future of the Council with the Council now in a position of having a full Corporate Management Team;

·  Members also raised concerns about not receiving reports regarding projects managed by the Council, through a variety of reasons such as officers not having the time to provide them. Officers from Grant Thornton said that there could be a number of reasons why a project can steer away from the set course, but the main focus should be reporting these issues early so that Members have the opportunity to understand the situation and ask the right questions when they would be presented with the opportunity to do so. Members went on to say that with clear transparency, they would be able to answer questions from their constituents with more information when it came to issues such as delays on certain projects;

·  Members went further into accounts for project management and wanted to know how much was paid for said projects. Officers assured Members that when the accounts were published, then they would be able to see the amounts, for the 2021-22 completed accounts and the 2022-23 accounts soon to be completed. Officers also reminded Members that in the area of exit packages, any amounts above £100,000 would need approval from Members first, which also provided transparency.


Councillor Towning proposed, Councillor Davis seconded and Members AGREED that the External Auditor’s Annual Report covering Value for Money for the years 2020/21 through to 2022/23 be approved as set out in Annex 1.

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