Agenda item

Governance and Audit Committee Self Assessment

To receive the CIPFA document on “audit committee’s practical guidance for local authorities and police” which sets out the guidance on the function and the operation of audit committees (Report of the Head of Internal Audit for SHDC enclosed).

Minutes:

The Committee noted that the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) document on “audit committees – practical guidance for local authorities and police” set out the guidance on the function and operation of audit committees. It represented CIPFA’s view of best practice and incorporated the position statement previously issued. The guidance stated “the purpose of an audit committee is to provide those charged with governance independent assurance on the adequacy of the risk management framework, the internal control environment and the integrity of the financial reporting and annual governance processes”.

 

The Section 151 Officer had overarching responsibility for discharging the requirement for sound financial management, and to be truly effective required an audit committee to provide support and challenge.

 

Good audit committees were characterised by; balanced, objective, independent knowledgeable and properly trained Members, a membership that was supportive of good governance principles, a strong independently minded chair, an unbiased attitude and the ability to challenge when required.

 

It was therefore good practice for audit committees to complete a regular self-assessment exercise against a checklist, to be satisfied that the Committee is performing effectively.

 

In addition, the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards also called for the audit committee to assess their remit and effectiveness, in relation to Purpose, Authority and Responsibility, to facilitate the work of the Committee.  The Committee carried out self-assessment exercises on a regular basis.

 

After the Committee meeting held on 14 November 2019, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Committee carried out a self-assessment, facilitated by the Internal Audit Manager.  The results of this were provided in Appendix 1 to the report, and the Committee was invited to consider the information, and the following points were raised:

 

·         Was the role and purpose of the audit committee understood and accepted across the authority? 

o   It was felt that more could be done in this area, and that training could help.

 

·         Had the membership of the committee been assessed against the core knowledge and skills framework and found to be satisfactory?  How could this position be met? 

o   Auditors responded that this concerned knowledge and understanding of the Council and how it operated.  Information could be circulated to members to provide support in this area.  

 

·         Did the Committee report directly to the full authority?

o   Members were advised that annual report. on the work of the Committee had been produced for a number of years, and that this was presented to a meeting of full Council. 

 

·         With regard to question 9 – ‘has the audit committee considered the wider areas identified in CIPFA's position statement and whether it would be appropriate for the committee to undertake them?', was this question appropriate, and was there training regarding this area that the Committee would benefit from?

o   Auditors responded that there were some areas that the Committee was not required to undertake.  Information could be sent to the Committee which would be of use – 1) CIPFA Position Statement on Audit Committees; and 2) Knowledge and Skills Matrix.

 

AGREED:

 

That the information detailed within the report be noted.

Supporting documents: