Venue: Conference Room, Mildenhall Hub, Sheldrick Way, Mildenhall, IP28 7JX
Contact: Christine Brain: Democratic Services Officer Email: email@example.com
Any member who is substituting for another member should so indicate, together with the name of the relevant absent member.
The following substitution was declared:
Councillor Marion Rushbrook substituting for Councillor John Augustine.
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors John Augustine and Peter Thompson.
Declarations of interest
Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any pecuniary or local non pecuniary interest which they have in any item of business on the agenda no later than when that item is reached and, when appropriate, to leave the meeting prior to discussion and voting on the item.
Members’ declarations of interest are recorded under the item to which the declaration relates.
Members of the public who live or work in the district are welcome to speak and may ask one question or make a statement of not more than three minutes duration relating to items to be discussed in Part 1 of the agenda only. If a question is asked and answered within three minutes, the person who asked the question may ask a supplementary question that arises from the reply.
In accordance with government guidance, the Council has developed general protocols on operating buildings safely in order to reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus and will apply to members of the public registered to speak. We would therefore strongly urge anyone who wishes to register to speak to notify Democratic Services by 9am on the day of the meeting so that advice can be given on the arrangements in place.
There is an overall limit of 15 minutes for public speaking, which may be extended at the Chair’s discretion.
There were no members of the public in attendance on this occasion.
Report number: PAS/WS/23/004
The Committee received Report number PAS/WS/23/004, which presented the results from Ernst and Young’s (EY) audit of the 2021 to 2022 financial statements for West Suffolk Council. The report set out issues they were required to report on to those charged with governance. EY were also required to report on the results of the work undertaken to assess the council’s arrangements to secure value for money (VM) in the use of resources.
The council’s unaudited 2021 to 2022 Statement of Accounts, signed by the Chief Finance Officer (Section 151 Officer) on 28 June 2022, had been updated to reflect any adjustments recommended by EY over this period as a result of their audit work. Members were informed that these adjustments did not affect the council’s overall financial position and were in most cases merely presentational changes.
At the time of writing the report, it was not anticipated that there would be any significant issues with the accounts, but there were still a number of audit procedures to be concluded.
A copy of the Audit Results Report dated March 2023 was attached at Appendix A. An updated Addendum to Appendix A dated 28 March 2023 was presented to the Committee by Mark Russell (EY Partner).
Attached at Appendix B to the report was West Suffolk Council’s Letter of Representation, on behalf of the Council in accordance with the audit of the financial statements for West Suffolk Council for the year ended 31 March 2022.
Mark Russell presented the report and referred the Committee to the Addendum A (28 March 2023 – pages 1 to 16) and updated members on further progress made in the audit process as follows:
- Page 5:
· Management Override – Audit procedures substantially completed with no issues found to date.
· Revenue expenditure – Audit procedures substantially completed.
- Page 6:
· Valuation of the Mildenhall Hub – It had been determined the valuation of the Hub fell within a reasonable range and no issues raised.
· Valuation of Solar Farm – Work would be concluded by 31 March 2023. There were no findings from the audit procedure to date.
· Infrastructure assets – Work had concluded. The Council had followed the CIPFA Code and had not applied the statutory instrument concerning infrastructure assets.
· Other valuations - Audit procures were substantially completed. Currently working through the final responses to EY’s audit queries concerning asset valuations.
- Page 7:
· Group account consolidation – EY had not received a response to date on group instructions issued to the auditor for Barley Homes Ltd
· Pensions liability valuations – A £2.1m difference had been identified due to the timing of the IAS19 report and the recent triannual valuation which included the pension position as at 31 March 2022. EY were awaiting an updated IAS19 report to assess the impact on the council’s pension liability.
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· Two misstatements had been identified during the course of the audit, which had been corrected. EY advised these had no overall impact on the council’s total unusable reservices. ... view the full minutes text for item 174.
Report number: PAS/WS/23/005
The Committee received Report number PAS/WS/23/005, which sought members approval of the draft West Suffolk Annual Governance Statement for 2021 to 2022, attached at Appendix A.
The Annual Governance Statement provided stakeholders with assurance that the council had operated within the law and that they had met the requirements of the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015. The Annual Governance Statement accompanied the Statement of Accounts.
The draft Annual Governance Statement had been prepared by the Officer Governance Group.
The Director (Resources and Property) drew members attention to section 6 of Appendix A and advised that there were no other significant governance issues to disclose.
The Committee considered the draft West Suffolk Annual Governance Statement for 2020 to 2021 and did not raise any governance issues.
Councillor Cliff Waterman then moved the recommendation, this was duly seconded by Councillor Robert Nobbs, and with the vote being unanimous, it was:
That the draft West Suffolk Annual Governance Statement 2021 to 2022, attached as Appendix A to Report number PAS/WS/23/005 be approved for signing by the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive.
Report number: PAS/WS/23/006
The Committee received Report number PAS/WS/23/006, which sought members approval of the 2021 to 2022 Statement of Accounts for West Suffolk Council (Appendix A), in accordance with powers delegated to it under the Council’s constitution.
It was reported that the statutory requirements for the report and approval of the Council’s annual financial statements were set out in the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015. The regulations require the council to submit draft accounts to its external auditors, currently Ernst and Young (EY) by 31 May each year, with member scrutiny and approval of the accounts required once the audit had been concluded by 31 July each year. Due to Covid-19 and in response to a consultation exercise carried out by it, the government had issued regulations – the Accounts and Audit (Amendment) Regulations 2021, to amend these deadlines in relation to the 2020 to 2021 and 2021 to 2022 accounts. The revised dates were 1 August for the draft accounts and 30 November for final approval and publication.
Due to the planned phased approach to delivering the 2021 to 2022 audits across Suffolk, the external audit of the draft accounts for West Suffolk did not begin until mid-February 2023 and it was therefore not possible to complete the audit and publish the accounts by the end of November 2022 in line with the regulations. This situation was allowed for by Regulation 10, paragraph (2a) of the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015.
The outcome of EY’s review of the accounts was provided in the Annual Results Report, which were included on the Committee’s agenda (PAS/WS/23/004 – Appendix A and the Updated Addendum), along with a verbal update by EY giving their current position as of this evening (30 March 2023).
The attached Statement of Accounts (Appendix A) had been amended, as appropriate, to take on board issues raised by the audit process up to the date of distribution.
The covering report summarised financial highlights in 2021 to 2022; revenue expenditure; capital expenditure; usable reserves; pension fund; annual governance statement and payments to councillors.
The Director (Resources and Property) wished to thank the council’s finance team for its work in pulling the 2021 to 2022 accounts together, as it had been a challenging time in completing this audit alongside finalising the council’s budget for 2023 to 2024 and closing down the 2022 to 2023 statement of accounts at the same time.
The Director (Resources and Property) then drew the Committee’s attention to the balance sheet and explained that overall, the long-term assets of West Suffolk.
The Committee scrutinised the draft accounts and asked questions to which responses were provided.
In response to a question raised asking Brandon Country Park was not included in the list of venues on page 132 of the Statement of Accounts, officers advised that Brandon Country Park was owned by West Suffolk Council and was therefore not classed as an external/outside body.
In response to a question raised on how Brandon Country Park was performing financially, officers agreed to ... view the full minutes text for item 176.