Venue: Gartree Committee Room, County Hall, Glenfield
Contact: Mrs J. Twomey (tel: 0116 305 2583) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2023 were taken as read, confirmed and signed.
The Chief Executive reported that no questions had been received under Standing Order 34.
Questions asked by members under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).
The Chief Executive reported that no questions had been received under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).
There were no urgent items for consideration.
Declarations of interest.
The Chairman invited members who wished to do so to declare any interest in respect of items on the agenda for the meeting.
Mr T. J. Richardson CC declared a non-registerable interest in agenda item 7 (External Audit of the 2021/22 Statement of Accounts, Annual Governance Statement and Pension Fund Accounts) as he was in receipt of a pension from Lloyds Bank Plc.
Presentation of Petitions under Standing Order 35.
The Chief Executive reported that no petitions had been received under Standing Order 35.
The Committee considered a report of the Director of Corporate Resources which presented the key findings from the external audit of the 2021/22 financial statements and sought the Committee’s approval of the draft letters of representation. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 7’ is filed with these minutes.
The Chairman welcomed Mr Mark Stocks from Grant Thornton, the Council’s external auditors, to the meeting.
In presenting the item, the Director reported that:
· The audit was substantially complete but some final testing of asset values were yet to be concluded. No material issues were expected to arise from this work which would impact useable reserves. It was not therefore expected that any adjustments in the letters of representation now presented would be required and an unmodified opinion would still be issued.
· In order that the accounts could be signed and the audit concluded minor amendments if required, would be notified to the Chair.
· If there were any material changes required that would impact useable reserves, a separate report would be provided to the Committee setting out the amendments made to the signed accounts in agreement with the auditors.
Arising from discussion, the following points were made:
welcomed what was overall a positive audit, despite the added testing required
to be undertaken in line with new Regulations.
Members noted the improvements recommended and were satisfied with the
actions proposed to address these.
member questioned the logic behind recommendation 2 which suggested the Council
should take action to reduce its growing SEND deficit given the Government’s
extension of the statutory override to 2025/26.
It was suggested that the recommendation essentially went against
Mr Stocks commented
that whilst it was accepted that nationally SEND services were struggling
financially, from an audit perspective, the reality remained that the Council
was spending more on SEND services than it received in dedicated schools grant. As
such without the statutory override, the Council’s accounts would be in
deficit. The risk was that at some point
this might have to be repaid. Given that
indications were the Government would be unlikely to address this, it would be
up to the Council to make strides in reducing the deficit before the override
Member suggested that it would be helpful if more context could be added in the
external auditor’s report as some areas appeared to be critical of the
Council’s level of spend for some services and in isolation setting an
expectation that expenditure on these services would be increased. Members commented that the report provided no
background regarding the Council’s low funded position. It was suggested that to make comparisons
with other authorities that received a lot more grant funding from Government
(and so were able to spend more on services) without this context could easily
result in the public misunderstanding the Council’s position. The Council had for many years been regarded
nationally as high performing, getting good value for the money it received as
evidenced from the IMPOWER value for money assessments.
Mr Stocks advised that
in undertaking the audit, outputs were assessed, and recommendations made in
terms of what this meant for the Authority.
It did not assess the Government’s national funding allocations to
individual authorities. It was suggested
that this was a matter for County Council members to consider and address from
a political perspective, both locally and nationally.
(iv) Members noted that the Pentana risk management system had been implemented within the Environment and Transport Department, but not more widely in respect of all department’s risk management arrangements. Wider adoption had been considered by ... view the full minutes text for item 56.
Date of next meeting.
The next meeting of the Corporate Governance Committee will be held on Friday, 26th May 2023 at 10.00am.
That the next meeting of the Committee be held on 26th May 2023 at 10.00am.
The Chairman reported that this would likely be the final meeting for Mr Chris Tambini, the Council’s Director or Corporate Resources, as he would be leaving the Authority at the end of May. The Chairman, on behalf of the Committee thanked Chris for his invaluable support and advice over the years and wished him well for the future.
The Chairman also congratulated Mr Declan Keegan (one of the current Assistant Director of Corporate Resources) who had recently been appointed to the position of Director.
Exclusion of the press and public.
The public are likely to be excluded during the following item of business in accordance with section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972:-
· External Audit of the 2021/22 Statement of Accounts – Additional Information.
That under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded for the remaining item of business on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 3 and 10 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act and that, in all circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.
External Audit of the 2021/22 Statement of Accounts - Additional Information.
The Committee considered a report of the Director of Corporate Resources which provided some additional information in respect of a sensitive issue identified as part of the 2021/22 external audit of the Statement of Accounts.
That the additional information as set out in the report be noted.