The Committee noted the Audit Wales Governance and Audit Committee Reports at Appendix A, B and C.
Audit Wales presented an update on the Financial and Performance Audit work undertaken, and due to be undertaken by Audit Wales, together with a summary of its Programme and Timetable within the Council.
Rachel Freitag, Audit Manager (Financial Audit) provided the Committee with a summary of the Financial Audit work undertaken. The audit of the Council’s 2020-21 Grants and returns had been completed. The Council’s 2021-22 Draft Statement of Accounts would be presented to the July meeting of the Committee. The audit of the 2021-22 Returns for the Porthcawl Harbour Authority and the Coychurch Crematorium Joint Committee would be reported to the July meeting of the Committee.
Samantha Clements, Audit Lead (Performance Audit) of Audit Wales provided a summary of the Performance Audit work undertaken. A member of the Committee referred to the review of the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health partnership following the Council’s transition to the partnership to gain assurance that the health board and the three councils are working together effectively. The member questioned whether there is long-term planning from a governance perspective with the Council and developers in the Local Development Plan to provide sufficient local health facilities when planning new residential developments and whether there is sufficient collaboration with Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board. The Audit Wales representative stated that Audit Wales will provide a report on the Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health and Social Care Partnership within the quarterly work programme update.
The Chairperson requested that the recommendations from the Audit Wales report on Disabled Facilities Grants be included in the DFG report being presented to the September meeting of the Committee.
The Audit Manager (Financial Audit) presented a summary of the 2022 Audit Plan and referred to the key financial statement audit risks and asset valuations. The Chairperson asked whether the asset valuations included highways. The Audit Manager (Financial Audit) informed the Committee that each class of asset is valued differently in accordance with CIPFA guidance on accounting for assets and that highways are valued as a depreciated asset.
A member of the Committee referred to the Welsh Government Business Support Grant scheme and asked whether it was within the remit of the Committee to express concerns as to how it is administered. The Chief Officer, Finance, Performance and Change stated there are mechanisms within the Council which would look at any fraudulent activity. The Head of the Regional Internal Audit Service informed the Committee that any concerns as to how the scheme is being administered should be raised with him.
A member of the Committee asked whether Audit Wales is to conduct a review of the Well-being of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015. The Audit Lead (Performance Audit) stated that Audit Wales would not be conducting a review but it would be integrating it with its performance audit work. The legislation is used as the basis for its reviews.
A member of the Committee asked for an explanation of the term materiality. The Audit Manager (Financial Audit) explained that this related to the level of errors or misstatement above which Audit Wales will report on.
The Audit Lead (Performance Audit) summarised the performance audit programme for 2022-23, where it would review Assurance and Risk Assessment; a thematic review of unscheduled care and a thematic review which had now been confirmed as Digitalisation. A member of the Committee asked for details of the timescale for the thematic review of digitalisation. The Audit Lead (Performance Audit) stated that a draft project brief had been sent to officers and it was hoped to conduct the review in July / August. The Chairperson asked when the Assurance and Risk Assessment would be presented to the Committee. The Audit Lead (Performance Audit) stated that an update on the report on the Assurance and Risk Assessment project would be provided to the Committee in September.
The Audit Manager (Financial Audit) informed the Committee of the certification of grant claims and returns made and the fees and planned timescales for completion of audit work. The audit of financial statements and opinion on financial statements would be submitted to the Committee in September. A member of the Committee asked whether the Council was happy with the increase in audit fees. The Chief Officer, Finance, Performance and Change informed the Committee that the fees charged by Audit Wales had been fixed for a number of years and the Council had a good dialogue and working relationship with Audit Wales which ensured that the work undertaken would assist the Council, either by identifying areas for improvement or sharing best practice from elsewhere for consideration within the Council. The Chairperson asked whether the Council had value for money from Audit Wales and if work was not done, are the fees refundable. The Audit Manager (Financial Audit) informed the Committee that a fee is not raised where work is not done.
The Audit Lead (Performance Audit) informed the Committee of the national report conducted on Direct Payments for Adult Social Care, which examined their impact and value for money. The report included recommendations for all local authorities to consider. The Chief Officer, Finance, Performance and Change informed the Committee that the Council will develop an Action Plan on each of the recommendations emanating from the national report on Direct Payments. It will also have dialogue with Audit Wales on the actions the Council is taking. The Chairperson stated that the recommendations emanating from the national report on Direct Payments, coupled with the steps to be taken by the Welsh Government, needs to be done jointly with local government. The Audit Lead (Performance Audit) informed the Committee that she would discuss with its Local Government Studies Team on what steps are to be taken by the Welsh Government in working with local authorities on the implementation of best practice on Direct Payments and report verbally at the next meeting.
RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the Audit Wales Governance and Audit Committee Reports at Appendix A, B and C.