To receive and consider the ‘Annual Governance Report 2008/09’ issued by the Audit Commission. This includes the external auditor’s opinion on the council’s financial statements.
The committee received and considered the “Annual Governance Report 2008/09” issued by the external auditor namely the Audit Commission. This included the external auditor’s opinion on the council’s financial statements. It was reported that the external auditor had issued a revised version three days prior to the committee meeting which included the council’s use of resources assessment ratings. However, the pensions’ information had not been received in time and therefore this had not been included. The committee was asked to delegate authority to the officers to sign the letter of representation at a later date.
The audit commission’s report contained two parts namely an assessment of the council’s accounts and an assessment of its use of resources.
Anne Ockleston of the audit commission reported that there was no intention to charge the council any further fee following the assessment of the council’s 2008/09 accounts. She explained that although an error had occurred in the 2007/08 capital accounts, this was being tackled correctly and in a positive manner. The audit commission now viewed capital transactions as higher risk. However, she praised the council for the “very high standard” of its 2008/09 accounts.
The committee was satisfied that the Audit Commission had not identified any areas of concern in 2008/09. Although a capital accounting error had occurred in 2007/08, councillors were pleased that steps were being taken to avoid a repeat of this.
In answer to a question from one councillor, Anne Ockleston stated that the report contained the audit commission’s opinion and findings of the 2008/09 accounts. She did not consider it appropriate to mention the 2007/08 capital accounting error in this report as the council was already aware of this. However, she accepted that the “key areas of judgement and audit risk” could include reference to the audit commission being satisfied with the way the error had been dealt with.
Anne Ockleston turned to the use of resources assessment which looked at arrangements and physical outcomes which showed improvements for Vale residents. The council’s overall use of resources score was three out of four, which meant the council was performing well. She explained some of the scoring and the reasons why, in some assessments, the council had scored two (meaning good arrangements, but some areas needed improvement). These included financial reporting, governing the business, data quality, and good governance. To make the improvements, Anne Ockleston suggested that the council needed to develop its workforce to bridge the skills gap. The committee noted that new arrangements were in place to make the necessary improvements. The audit commission would seek examples of good governance arrangements and advise the council accordingly.
(a) that the audit commission’s report “Annual Governance Report 2008/09” be noted;
(b) that the adjustments to the council’s 2008/09 accounts be noted;
(c) that the value for money conclusions and use of resources scores be noted; and
(d) that authority be delegated to the Strategic Director and Section 151 Officer to sign the letter of representation on the council’s behalf.