To receive a report on the Action Plan to the Statement of Accounts.
RECEIVED a report on the Action Plan for the Statement of Accounts from Matt Bowmer (Director of Finance).
1. Officers had committed to providing a monthly update on the statement of accounts improvement plan arising from last years work on events resulting in the sign-off of the accounts at the end of December 2019.
2. The biggest audit risk was the HRA valuations and that is what led to the late sign-off of the accounts as detailed at points 4.1 and 4.2 (page 2) of the ‘to follow’ report.
3. Additionally, a further risk to the council are the general fund valuations, as detailed at point 4.5 (page 3) of the ‘to follow’ report. Officers are continuing to work on these.
4. As detailed at point 4.6 (page 3) of the ‘to follow’ report. Comprehensive work has also been done with the council’s general fund valuers, Ernst & Young.
5. As detailed at point 4.9 (page 3) of the ‘to follow’ report. Relating to the issue around the council’s asset module, SAP and the need that there needs to be a replacement asset module that would deliver far greater improvements.
6. Finance have engaged 2 interim resources, both fully skilled, well regarded Chief Accountants. One of these posts will cover the vacancy in the team until permanent recruitment to the Chief Accountant post and the second resource will be working on the assets.
7. As detailed at points 4.10 and 4.11 regarding the cleansing & reconciliation of the asset records and the completion of the first draft of the single entity accounts.
8. As detailed at Appendix A (action plan), pages 6-9 of the ‘to follow’ report, there had been a couple of actions added.
9. The profile of the council’s accounts had been raised across the organisation including the finalised details of 2019/20 accounts. The improvement plan had been communicated to EMT, the Senior Leadership network, all Heads of Service, Senior Managers and will be cascaded down to teams.
10.The following questions, statements and queries raised in response to the report:
a. Councillor Leavers comments that the improvement plan was covering extensive areas and queried the dating of work from December 2019 to 31 May 2019. Matt Bowmer clarified that the dates within the appendix were incorrect and from January should be for the 2020 year.
b. Councillor Leaver questioned the improvement plan, especially several actions in January 2020 and whether the actions will start and finish in January 2020. If they are not met by the end of January 2020, would those January actions get priority over the February 2020 actions. Matt Bowmer clarified that those dates are actions to be completed by. There would be ongoing work to enable those deadlines to be met.
c. In reply, on whether there was an update on the incomplete October 2019 actions, Matt Bowmer clarified that there is an element of slippage. Some of the things that had slipped were not massively critical now and would not have an adverse impact on Finance being able to deliver the accounts on-time. Some of the slippage issues were around dialogue with departments but those meetings are taking place and dialogue is happening.
AGREED to note the Statement of Accounts update and the decision to modernise the Asset register.