Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Annual Audit Letter

Decision:

Noted the 2016/17 Annual Audit Letter

Minutes:

The Mayor advised Council that the Annual Audit Letter had been considered by the Audit and Risk Management Panel on 29 November 2017 and that no comments had been made for the Council’s consideration.  The Mayor invited Paul Dossett, from the External Auditor, to address the Council.

 

Paul Dossett, the Engagement Lead from Grant Thornton, summarised their report. He highlighted that they had given the Council an unqualified opinion on its financial statements and that they were satisfied with the value for money arrangements. He informed the Council that there had been an objection from a local elector relating to PFI contracts as part of a national campaign, which was expected to be resolved early in the New Year. He advised the Council that statutory deadlines had been brought forward and that the Council will be required to produce draft statements by 31 May, and secure an audit opinion by 31 July 2018.

 

Councillor Matt Hartley queried the selection of projects considered by the External Auditor, when the Eltham Centre had had significant financial overspend and there were other big projects underway, and he asked whether one of the large projects could be considered by the Auditor next time.

 

Paul Dossett, the Engagement Lead from Grant Thornton, explained that they considered the projects in totality. He noted that the Council was going through a significant period of regeneration. All major projects had challenges and risks. They would continue to look at those projects and the Council's arrangements in respect of those projects and would talk that through with the Audit and Risk Management Panel.  The External Auditor’s role was to consider what arrangements the Council put in place to get value for money and not to necessarily assess the outcome of projects.

 

Councillor Mehboob Khan, speaking as a Member of the  Audit and Risk Management Panel, commented that the project management of large regeneration schemes had been discussed at the Audit and Risk Management Panel. The Panel had welcomed the Auditor's report as it gave a clean bill of health for 2015/16 in the management of these projects. The Panel had asked that the Auditor look at these large projects. The Panel had been given good assurance that the Council's arrangements for the delivery of these projects in 2015/16 were sound, robust and effective.  He said Panel Members would want the executive to ensure that the excellent management of these projects continue because at a time of reducing revenue base for the Council those projects from the Council's capital fund were going to be the ones that deliver the improvements to quality of life to residents, and to make sure they were both timely and do deliver the outcomes that were in the scoping of these projects.

 

The Leader of the Council noted that it had been another positive year for the Council. She drew Council’s attention to the Auditor's findings stated in section 3.3. of the report. She called on the Leader of the Opposition to join her in thanking the Finance team, the Audit and Risk Management Panel, and Paul Dossett's team at Grant Thornton for all their hard work.

 

Resolved –

 

That the 2016/17 Annual Audit Letter be noted.

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