Agenda item

External Audit Findings Report 2020-21


The Committee noted that the audit of the 2020-21 accounts was nearing completion and the Council’s external auditors intended to issue an unqualified opinion on the financial statements, which the Chief Finance Officer would re-certify in accordance with the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 immediately after the Committee meeting.  The auditors had issued an Audit Findings report, which was appended to the committee report, together with a management action plan. 


There were some adjustments to the primary statements required as a result of the audit and these, along with details of the actions taken, were highlighted in the audit findings report. There were also some minor changes that were not individually significant enough to warrant separate disclosure in the findings report.


The 2020-21 Auditors Annual Report would be reported, together with the 2021-22 Auditors Annual report, to the Committee at a future meeting.


The Chairman of the Committee was required to issue a letter of representation on behalf of the Council to the auditors to provide assurance over the management framework operating at the Council and the disclosures in the accounts. A copy of the proposed letter was attached as Appendix 2 to the report.


The Committee’s attention was drawn to the Action Plan in the Audit Findings Report and the management responses, and to the various adjustments made to the accounts since the first draft of the accounts were published.


During the debate, the Committee made the following comments:


·      Concern over the likelihood of the Council having made decisions with significant financial implications based on unaudited financial information.

·      In view of the Council’s current financial position, the Council’s focus and priority should be on putting in place a sustainable Medium Term Financial Plan, rather than any retrospective investigation into the merits or otherwise of the Future Guildford project.

·      The Council should be asking itself whether it was on track to deliver the anticipated annual revenue savings of up to £10.2 million from the Future Guildford transformation programme.

·      In response to a question as to the timescale for completion of the joint 2020-21 and 2021-22 value for money report, the external auditors confirmed that it was intended to bring that report to the next meeting of this Committee.

·      Request that future Audit Findings Reports provide an alternative to the colour-coded assessments to assist those with colour blindness.

·      In response to concerns, the Interim Joint Executive Head of Finance gave assurance that the Council’s financial systems were sufficiently robust.

·      In response to a request for clarification as to when the 2021-22 audited accounts would be presented to the Committee, the Interim Joint Executive Head of Finance confirmed that the 2022-23 accounts officer were nearing closure, and work would shortly focus on 2021-22 accounts to make sure that all the issues that had been raised in the Audit Findings Report for the 2020-21 accounts and the work on the 2022-23 accounts were addressed.


Having considered the report, the Committee




(1)         That Grant Thornton’s Audit Findings report attached as Appendix 1 to the Committee report, and the management responses provided in the action plan (as set out in Appendix A to Appendix 1 to that report) be noted.


(2)         That the letter of representation, as set out in Appendix 2 to the report, be approved, and that the Chairman of the meeting be authorised to sign the letter on the Council’s behalf.



To allow the external auditor to issue his opinion on the 2020-21 accounts.



Officer to action:

To bring the joint 2020-21 and 2021-22 value for money report to the next meeting of this Committee.

Paul Cuttle,

Grant Thornton (external auditors)

To provide in future Audit Findings Reports an alternative to the colour-coded assessments to assist those with colour blindness.

Paul Cuttle,

Grant Thornton (external auditors)



Supporting documents: