Agenda and minutes

Audit - Thursday, 15th September, 2022 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


There were no apologies for absence.



Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest


A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a personal interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered -


(i)            must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent


and, if the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest, or a personal interest which is also prejudicial


(ii)        may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter (and must withdraw to the public seating area) unless they have been granted a dispensation.


A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Members’ Register of Interests, or is not the subject of a pending notification, must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.


Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal and prejudicial interests are defined in Part 2 of the Code of Conduct For Members


[If a member is in any doubt as to whether they have an interest which should be declared they should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer before the start of the meeting]



There were no declarations of interest.



Minutes and Actions pdf icon PDF 132 KB

To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting and consider the actions.


The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed by the members present and then signed by the Chairman.


There were no outstanding action points from the previous meeting.



Public Participation

An opportunity for members of the public to make statements and ask questions in accordance with the rules as to Public Participation.



There was no public participation.


Summary Internal Controls Assurance (SICA) Report pdf icon PDF 878 KB


P Lazenby introduced the item and provided a detailed summary of each of the reports.


Councillor Townsend sought clarification on the planning audit brief that was issued on 2nd September.


P Lazenby advised that it was an indication that we have agreed terms for undertaking the audit, that we’ve agreed to the responsible lead and that we’ve agreed a time frame for taking the review. If the audit brief was not issued for whatever reason it would be a warning sign that the audit may be delayed.


Councillor Symington referred to the delays on housing repairs and maintenance. She said this was one of the key areas that residents approach their ward councillors about and asked for more information on the delay.


P Lazenby believed the request to delay was in response to an internal plan that was developed in the organisation in response to an incident. He said the report had been to this committee previously but he couldn’t expand on the information due to confidentiality.




The report was noted.



Final Outturn Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 335 KB

Additional documents:


F Jump introduced the report and explained it was the responsibility of the audit committee to look at the final outturn report, provide comments on the position and agree the final reserve movements for the year which are incorporated into the final financial position for the authority. She presented the highlights of the report and welcomed questions from the committee.


Councillor Symington questioned how we were going to manage the increasing pressures going forward.


F Jump agreed we were experiencing rising costs across the country and beyond in terms of all aspects of expenditure. She advised they had a really tight monitoring process for the capital programme so they were constantly reviewing it as more pressures become known. They will be reporting through the committee and when they feel that they need to perhaps look again at the capital programme and the approved financial envelope they will bring decisions to the committee for approval. She summarised it was very much a concern but they will be constantly reviewing the situation and members will be kept up to date as part of the financial monitoring process and decision making.


Councillor Townsend asked for more information on the contribution from the Covid-19 Hardship Reserve, to support the cost of the Council Tax Hardship relief scheme.


F Jump advised they received a grant from central government at the end of the last financial year to support the provision of council tax relief to local residents. There was an understand on that grant at the end of the financial year which under accounting guidelines was carried forward into the current financial year and that was then used to fund that particular scheme into 21/22.


Councillor Townsend questioned if it had been spent or if it’s a general reserve.


F Jump responded that the majority has been spent but there was around £100k leftover so a decision will need to be taken as to how that’s applied in 2022/23.


Councillor Symington queried if F Jump wished to comment on the difference between the budgeted movement and the net reserve movement that actually occurred.


F Jump explained we were expecting a reserve movement of £1.2m transfer into the council’s reserves but what we’ve actually seen is a transfer of £5.9m. She said at the time the reserve movement budgets were set they wouldn’t have known what those funding equalisation reserve movements were going to be and that’s why we’re seeing such a large difference.


Councillor Townsend noted two other relatively material moves relating to the saving efficiencies reserve and the Dacorum development reserve and asked for comments on those.


F Jump replied there had been a number of additional reserve movements in year but all of those have been put forward to Cabinet and Council to approve during the year. She said she didn’t have a breakdown to hand but members could be assured that any reserve movements had been subject to other committee reports before they’ve been included in the position.




1.   The Committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Statement of Accounts and Letter of Representation 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 301 KB

Additional documents:


F Jump highlighted that this item needed to be considered in conjunction with the external audit findings report which was the next item on the agenda.


F Jump presented the statement of accounts and advised that followed the end of the external audit process. She explained the production of accounts was a very long piece of work for the finance team and voiced credit to Lexi Schultz and the wider finance team for their roles in producing these accounts. Members of the committee were asked to comment on the final statement of accounts and also approve the letter of representation. The letter is a statement from the Council to our external auditors which sets out the basis upon which we’ve prepared the accounts and it’s a crucial document for external audit to be able to issue their audit opinion. F Jump noted that they had agreed to a few changes to the accounts in conjunction with Grant Thornton; one related to the valuation of surplus assets and the other related to disclosures around our grant funding.


P Cuttle directed members to the headlines of the report and gave a summary of the external audit findings. He welcomed questions from the committee.


Councillor Townsend asked for more information on the outstanding matters relating to infrastructure assets following CIPFA revised guidance.


P Cuttle explained there was a statutory override expected to be passed through parliament which will provide a solution for councils to be able to make an adjustment to the financial statement based on changes to the code of audit practice and that will allow auditors to issue an unqualified opinion. He advised that Dacorum’s infrastructure assets were around £5-6m, materiality around £3m, so based on the current guidance that wouldn’t stop them being able to issue an unqualified audit opinion. He summarised that we were waiting for the guidance which may mean changing the financial statements if the guidance comes out before they finalise the audit but ultimately it wasn’t a big issue for this council.


Councillor Townsend advised he had done some reconciliations between what was being signed off in the accounts versus the final outturn report and also done some spot checks. He asked if there was anything else he should have done to check the accounts. He also asked if there were any changes in accounting treatment.


F Jump replied he had done everything she would expect someone in his position to do which is go through both the statement of accounts document and the final outturn report to make sure they’re consistent. She asked L Schultz to provide a summary on changes in the 2021/22 accounts.


L Schultz advised it had been a fairly light year in terms of accounting changes, partly because of Covid and all the pressure the councils are under. She said they were expecting a change relating to leases but that has been pushed back to 2024/25.


On behalf of the committee Councillor Townsend thanked all those involved in putting together the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


External Audit Findings Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 5 MB


This report was considered under item 7; Statement of Accounts and Letter of Representation 2021/22.



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 190 KB


There were no changes to the work programme.


Councillor Townsend wanted to put on record his appreciation to all those involved in producing the accounts.


Before the meeting officially ended, Councillor Chapman advised this would be his last meeting chairing this committee but he would remain on the audit committee. He thanked the staff, the internal and external auditors and all others that have been involved, for all their hard work and successes. He advised that Councillor Riddick would be the new Chairman.


Councillor Riddick thanked Councillor Chapman for his time as Chairman and for conducting the meetings so ably. He shared some suggestions of how he would like to conduct the audit committee going forward.


Councillor Townsend also thanked Councillor Chapman for his able chairing of the audit committee for a number of years.