To note the annual report and opinion 2019/20 and make any observations on the report to the Council’s Chief Financial Officer.
Members discussed the Internal Audit 2019/20 Annual Report and Opinion. Neil Pitman, Head of Internal Auditors, Southern Internal Audit Partnership (SIAP), gave an overview of the report and work carried out over the year. It was a positive report and reflected favourably on the organisation. The report concluded that Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s framework of governance, risk management and control was ‘Adequate’ and audit testing had demonstrated controls to be working in practice. This rating was good and one below the top rating of ‘Substantial’. The report gave an overview of the reports across 15 review areas that SIAP undertook during the year. There were no ‘Limited’ or ‘No’ assurance levels.
The impact of Covid-19 on the Council would be fully considered in the 2020/21 Audit Plan. As regards the 2019/20 audit opinion, the only impact on the full delivery of the plan was to defer the audit of information security. This will be picked up in the 2020/21 plan. Work included an audit of the Main Accounting system with a focus on the processing of journals and timeliness of bank reconciliations. The review of programme and project management review acted as an advisory audit, effectively as a consultancy piece of work and focused on the governance arrangements following the establishment of a Programme Management Office (PMO) and development of the Project Management Framework. Annex 1 (Annual Report and Opinion) listed the individual audit reviews undertaken and opinions. Mr Pitman placed on record his appreciation to officers and Members of the Committee to enable the audit plan to be completed. This was the first year that SIAP were RBBC’s Internal Auditors.
Members discussed the report and made the following comments:
· It was comforting to have no ‘Limited Assurance’ reviews which was unusual compared to other Councils and very positive.
· It was noted that this report came to this Committee as it had undertaken the responsibilities of the Audit Committee. Next year, a separate Audit Committee had been set up and this would now look at audit matters for the year ahead.
· Advance questions had been submitted by Members which included a question on why the audit of Programme and Project Management had not been given an assurance level. (This was because this was an advisory audit). Also, had a remediation programme and ongoing monitoring been agreed to update the policies and procedures notes and how many sets of policies and procedures needed to be updated? Officers said they would provide a written answer on the management actions and the timeline to complete these. The Committee asked for this to be added to the Action Tracker to monitor in the future. It would liaise with the Audit Committee on this action.
· Members had also asked how many high priority recommendations were raised in this year’s audits and how many had yet to be implemented and were overdue? It was noted that there were 17 high priority management actions raised during the year which including 10 on Main Accounting. Members were told that of 10 high priority actions in this area, five had been addressed and five due dates were yet to be reached. Two high priority actions had been implemented in the council tax area and the three refuse, recycling and street cleansing actions had been completed.
· Members asked whether the bank reconciliations were now up to date. Processes were now firmly in place and the report gave assurance that the Council was on track in this area.
Chief Executive, John Jory, thanked the Internal Auditors for the high quality of their work and said that reporting arrangements had been very sound, and the Council’s work was better as a result of this.
RESOLVED that the Internal Auditor’s Annual Report and Opinion 2019/20 be noted and the Committee’s observations on the report be made to the Chief Financial Officer.