Further to Minute Nos. 19 and 35 of 28th July and 27th September, 2022, respectively, Rob Mahon, Assistant Director, and Gareth Mills, on behalf of Grant Thornton, presented the ISA 260 report.
At this point Grant Thornton were not able to provide an unqualified opinion on the Statement of Account, however, they were not indicating any significant issues outside of the national issue with infrastructure assets.
Infrastructure assets was a national issue with local authority approaches and accounting treatment for such. The issue had been raised as part of other local authority 2020/21 account reviews and had since been progressed by CIPFA. Historically this had not been considered to be an area of significant audit risk, however, due to historical information deficits, many authorities were unable to provide sufficient evidence of the value of replaced components of infrastructure assets when they were derecognised. This had led to delays to audit completion for many authorities and the risk of widespread accounts qualifications. The Government had undertaken to review the necessity for an accounting statutory override whereby, under the Local Government Act 2003, it may make provision for local authority accounting practices. This was due to be confirmed in December, 2022. The override would allow local authorities using the override to not make any prior period adjustments or revisit opening balances until a workable future proof solution was in place.
None of the following impacted on the Council’s budget position or outturn position for 2021/22:-
- A material adjustment identified in relation to the carrying of plant, vehicles and equipment (PVE) assets held by the Council
- 4 assets identified as requiring a change in category
- Amendment of the Statement of Accounts to show the reserve transfer in 2020/21 of the deficit balance on the Dedicated Schools Grant
- Demolition of the Oaks Day Centre which should have been impaired
Gareth Mills presented the ISA 260 noting that it could not be formally signed off until January, 2023, due to the national issues reported above.
The report highlighted:-
- A small number of IT based recommendations that would be followed up in 2022/23
- Assurance letter awaited from South Yorkshire Pensions Fund confirming no issues from the pension fund audit
- Value for Money work underway and hoped to conclude by the end of January, 2023. No significant issues or weaknesses had been identified to prevent signing an opinion
- Materiality levels remained consistent with the Audit Plan
- No issues identified in respect of management override of controls
- Immaterial disclosure errors, as reported above, but had no impact on the Council’s useable Reserves and management had amended the accounts to correct this
- Implementation of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) reforms and DSG deficit would be areas of focus
Grant Thornton expected to issue a clean unqualified audit opinion in January, 2023.
Discussion ensued with the following issues raised/clarified:-
· The issue of infrastructure assets was first raised by auditors in the Spring. It had been expected that the Statutory Instrument would be live by now but the events nationally during the past 3 months had caused a delay
· It was not known why the letter from the South Yorkshire Pensions Fund auditors was delayed but suspected it was due to the pressure of work
Resolved:- (1) That, having taken regard of the External Audit findings, detailed within the ISA260 report, the 2021/22 Statement of Accounts, attached as Appendix 2 to the report submitted, be approved for publication as final together with the 2021/22 Narrative Report, attached as Appendix 3.
(2) That the ISA 260 be submitted to a future Audit Committee for review following the outcome of the infrastructure statutory override at which point the External Auditor will be in a position to provide their opinion on the Council’s accounts.