To receive from BDO (external auditors) the Grants and Returns Certification Report 2017/18.
RECEIVED from BDO (external auditors) the Grants and Returns Certification Report 2017/18.
1. The report was presented by Lucy Trevett, who was the new Audit Manager.
2. The report covered 3 grant claims that BDO had looked at in 2017/18, which were all signed off by the required deadline.
3. As detailed on page 5 of the report, the detailed findings highlight the Housing Benefit subsidy work. Due to several errors the Council made in administering benefit and calculating subsidy entitlement, BDO identified one area of 40+ testing, one area of additional testing and four amendments to the claim form.
As detailed at page 6 of the report, the four specific areas that BDO looked at. All the errors were of low value, reported and no impact on the value of subsidy claimed by the Council.
4. As detailed at page 7 of the report, the two areas of further testing:
· Pooling of Housing Capital Receipts.
· Teachers’ Pensions.
5. As detailed at page 9 of the report, shows the status of 2016/17 recommendations.
6. The following questions and queries raised in response to the report:
a. The Chair asked for clarity regarding the Housing Benefit subsidy and the outcome from the Department of Works & Pensions (DWP). In addition, the errors found in the testing, was there an update from the DWP. Lucy Trevett (BDO) clarified that she was not aware of receiving any update yet from DWP. What normally happens was that the deadline for all councils is November. DWP take a few months to process the information. They look at what BDO have reported as errors in the extrapolations and based on that, do they think BDO need to do more testing to try and identify what the error is. When the work is done next year, DWP will then report that.
Fay Hammond further clarified that, when you look at the Housing Benefit claim of £300m plus, the errors found equate to a small amount. Mistakes and delays in housing benefit payments had cost Haringey Council more than £1.45m for 2017/18, in comparison.
b. Peter Nwosu (Independent Member) highlighted the reference to ‘cells’ within the report, was this referencing a spreadsheet. Lucy Trevett clarified that within the housing benefit document, the cells refer to a kind of benefit as there were different kinds of benefits.
c. Peter Nwosu (independent Member) requested further clarification regarding the grossing up error of £1.164m (as detailed at the top of page 6 of the report). This was a large error and was there not some kind of interim review to check that officers are following the actions BDO had highlighted last year. Lucy Trevett (BDO) clarified that this was a systematic error and not a process error. Fay Hammond also clarified that as an action to correct this issue, she would need to speak to Civica to change the way the system works, and the way information is extracted.
ACTION: Fay Hammond (Interim Executive Director Resources).
d. Lucy Trevett (BDO) explained to the committee how small amounts of errors are identified and how further testing is done as regards the claims.
AGREED to note the Grants and Returns Certification Report 2017/18.