The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) document on “audit committee’s practical guidance for local authorities and police” sets out the guidance on the function and the operation of audit committees. It represents CIPFA’s view of best practice and incorporates the position statements previously issued.
The Governance and Audit Committee has been undertaking self-assessments since 2008 and the updated CIPFA Audit Committee Self-Assessment Checklist is attached to this report following updates made in the January 2022 meeting.
(report of the Head of Internal Audit enclosed).
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) document on ‘audit committee’s practical guidance for local authorities and police” laid out the guidance on the function and the operation of audit committees. It represented CIPFA’s view of best practice and incorporated the position statements previously issued.
The Governance and Audit Committee had been undertaking self-assessments since 2008, and consideration was given to the updated CIPFA Audit Committee Self-Assessment Checklist following updates made at the January 2022 meeting.
The Head of Internal Audit introduced the report, and highlighted the following areas:
· The information within the appendix had been fed in from consideration of the self-assessment at the last meeting of the Committee in January 2022;
· All responses within the first table were answered ‘Yes’ with the exception of question 4 which had been answered ‘Partly’;
· Commentary for items highlighted as part of the exercise undertaken at the January meeting were detailed underneath the first table;
· Section 1.8 of the covering report provided information on the changes made, and actions to be taken forward:
o In response to Question 4 – A member-style bulletin to be considered to highlight the work of the Committee. The Head of Internal Audit commented that the Committee should discuss this and potentially add the suggestion to its programme of work. She also advised of an example of a good leaflet that had been used by other authorities a number of years ago which the Committee could consider using.
o In response to Question 6 – This response had moved to a yes, following research of the approach taken at other Councils. It was confirmed that in line with the guidance, the Committee reports to full Council and produces a report annually as an assessment of their performance. The Head of Internal Audit confirmed that by producing an annual report to Council, this area would be satisfied.
o In response to Question 18 – The Committee considered the answer to be ‘yes’ to this question however, it had been agreed that feedback would be requested at year end from officers interacting with them. The Head of Internal Audit commented that surveys could be undertaken at end of year – Internal Audit would send a survey to the Chairman of the Committee to obtain feedback on Internal Audit’s work, and they would also send out a survey to officers to obtain feedback on their interaction with the Governance and Audit Committee. The results would then be shared with the Committee. The Chairman asked for confirmation that this action would sit with Internal Audit and the Head of Internal Audit responded that it would, and that the action would be passed over to the new auditor in due course.
o In response to Question 15, it had been suggested that the CIPFA Audit Committee Core Knowledge and Skills Framework be circulated to Committee members annually, and that if any gaps were identified, training should be requested.
The following points were raised:
· Members commented that it was important for there to be a wider knowledge of the role of the Governance and Audit Committee amongst councillors, and that a wider understanding of its vital role was needed.
· Members commented that it was sometimes difficult to encourage councillors to be members of the Committee and could attendance of the Committee be looked at?
· Members commented that, with regard to the effectiveness of the Committee, the Head of Internal Audit had commented earlier in the meeting that engagement with officers had improved following the Committee’s determination to assist in improving the completion of historic audit recommendations. The Committee would often request that officers attend a meeting to explain the situation with regard to outstanding actions. The Committee’s involvement had resulted in a real change in attitude and produced results.
That the report and attached checklist at Appendix 1 be noted as an accurate reflection of the discussion and points raised at the meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee on 12 January 2022.