Council meetings

Agenda item

Final Accounts 2017-18 LBL Response to Grant Thornton's Findings


The Acting Group Finance Manager, Core Accounting stated officers were not happy with the general aspect of the audit. He said Grant Thornton did not provide a plan for them as requested and a number of times they could not monitor the precise process of audit. Officers said some of the samples requested came very late and did not give officers time to meet the intended deadline. Officers stated that Grant Thornton changed the advice they had given for LOBO. This was unhelpful as officers thought they were complying, then told otherwise. This also prevented officers meeting the deadline.


The Chair asked if Panel Members should assume that officers would get the dedicated support they need to ensure they meet the deadline next year. Mr Warren said it would be useful for Panel Members to receive an update of the actions following the Auditors and officers debrief. The Head of Financial Services said this would take place in October and both sides intend to build a strong relationship going forward. Paul Grady said there were learning points for both sides.


Action >>>>>> Head of Financial Services


The Head of Financial Services said as officers were now using Oracle Cloud, budget holders would be monitored and supported constantly. He said he acknowledged that the Council uses reserves to balance the budget but this was the current reality within the public sector. He said officers intend to look at the budget closely and support managers as best as they could to make an accurate forecast. He added that the Chief Executive would be looking at transformation in the Council. 


Panel Members asked what the Auditors thought might be useful to consider for savings going forward and were told the Council would need to undergo a behavioural change, and do a reality check. They said the Council would also need to identify what is going wrong in the budget, and individuals need to be held to account to deliver their budget.


Steven Warren said an action plan that included management’s response and assurance to address issues was yet to be completed. He said Panel Members should have a version that included management response and their proposed actions this should include timescales, and be honest and practical.


Action >>>>>> Head of Financial Services


Carole Murray asked why children transport was overspent, she asked whether officers were making savings in one area without thinking of the impact in another area. Carole Murray asked if there was an internal audit plan for this and was told this would be looked into.


Action >>>>>> Head of Financial Services


Councillor Rathbone asked how much longer the Council would have to rely on reserves, and was told this would depend on several factors, and should be a question for management. Paul Grady said it would depend also whether the Council has a reserve policy and what it entails. He added that in comparison to its neighbours the Council did not have to worry at present. 


The Chair asked if the whistle blowing allegation had been resolved and was told it would form part of the value for money work. The Chair thanked officers and the Auditors for the report.


RESOLVED that the report be noted.

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