The Audit Wales Officers provided an update on the Audit Wales Work Programme and Timetable Q2 and provided verbal updates to bring the information up to date.
It was added that one change to performance audits since the end of September is the unscheduled care review looking at discharge from hospitals from both health and social care aspects. The fieldwork is mainly completed with some final interviews in December and a draft summary will be sent out in the new year. Also the assurance and risk assessment workshop will be held in early February.
An update was provided that the audit of accounts report was not on today’s agenda as some national issues remain unresolved. The audit is progressing well with most of the work complete with no significant issues evident other than the two national issues that impact all local authorities concerning valuation of property assets (this is close to resolution) and infrastructure assets. Welsh Government has proposed a statutory override to temporarily address the issue pending a permanent solution. When in place it will be possible to move the audit of accounts forward.
Work is ongoing on the Welsh Church Act Fund, Monmouthshire Farm School Endowment Trust and certification of grants claims and returns.
The Head of Finance agreed it was disappointing the process has been delayed as it makes analysis of timely information difficult. The draft accounts were published in August for the public to view. The national issues are disappointing and have delayed the audit process shortening the window for accounts closure for the current financial year. The necessary information has been provided to Audit Wales and the valuations have been accepted. The infrastructure assets involve an adjustment to the notes in the accounts and should not affect the primary statement.
A Committee Member noted that the council’s approach and the process of calculating the infrastructure assets hasn't changed from one year to the next. It was questioned when Audit Wales first became aware that this was a significant issue, and when the Governance and Audit Committee was briefed on the issue. It was explained that the matter was uncovered during quality assurance reviews in England in the early summer and the Committee was notified in April/May. All authorities are in the same position and the additional pressure being created was acknowledged.
The Chair asked for information about Corporate Joint Committees and was informed that Welsh Government has brought in legislation to give four regions in Wales power to create corporate joint committees to preside over strategic transport, strategic planning and strategic economic growth. The CJCs are inactive while Welsh Government and UK Government discuss tax exemptions. The Cardiff Capital Region will continue until some of the barriers are removed. It was confirmed that the effective Cabinet on CJCs will consist of the Council Leaders of each authority.
A Member suggested that Audit Wales should look at the governance surrounding CJCs
Asked about local risk-based projects, the Audit Wales Officer confirmed that all of the local risk-based pieces of work are up to date. A risk assessment workshop in early February will plan the work for next year including local risk-based work and will feed into the audit plan for 2022/.23. It was suggested that early sight of local risk-based projects would be welcomed.