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Agenda item

Internal Audit Plan 2019/20

This report details the audit planning process, outcomes of planning consultations, the resources necessary to deliver the Plan, together with details of the work to be undertaken in 2019/20 (Appendix A attached).

Minutes:

In accordance with Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) the Council’s Audit Service was required to establish a risk-based plan to determine its priorities. The report from the Audit Manager detailed the audit planning process, the outcomes of planning consultations, and the resources necessary to deliver the Plan (attached as Appendix A to the report). The Audit Board was required, through its Terms of Reference, to consider and approve the Plan each year.

 

The Audit Manager advised Members that following his appointment in August 2018 he had reported to the Board on a regular basis concerning the ongoing changes he had identified to improve and enhance the Audit Service. The Audit Plan 2019/20 (attached as Appendix A to the report) set out in summary, the steps planned to review and restructure the Service in early 2019/20 in addition to setting a longer-term strategy. Members would continue to be updated as that restructuring work progressed. Following completion, the strategy encompassing all elements of the ‘Audit Universe’ would go to the Board for approval.

 

He referred Members to the following specific sections of the 2019/20 Internal Audit Plan:

 

·         Audit Days 2019/20 [pie chart and table agenda pages 57/58 refer]: the Dartford and Sevenoaks Audit Partnership had access to 850 chargeable audit days for 2019/20 split on a 50:50 basis between Dartford and Sevenoaks Councils. This was an increase of 26 audit days over the 2018/19 Plan and included a new Advisory & Consultancy activity pot [table p.57] to cater for emergencies and increase flexibility. The resource plan also covered the ongoing vacancies within the current team, and factored in the potential disruption to service during the period re-structuring the service. The re-structuring process, and subsequent recruitment into vacancies was expected to be completed by September 2019;

·         Audit Plan 2019/20 [table agenda pages 60-62 refer]: the table set out the audit plan for 2019/20 categorised into 3 distinct types of assurance Finance, Governance and Risk-Based. Details of a 4th IT stream were awaited from a consultant.

 

The Audit Manager emphasised the importance of an effective and positive two way conversation between the Audit Board and the Audit Service, and confirmed the following points in response to specific questions from Members:

 

·         The breakdown of audit days between Dartford and Sevenoaks [table p.57] differed in the Advisory & Consultancy Activity by 24 ‘extra’ days for Sevenoaks but no audits were undertaken on those days;

·         The totals in the table for Dartford for non-audit days and projects contained a slight error and would be re-issued following the meeting.

 

The Shadow Leader of the Council (attending as a Board Member) expressed his satisfaction with the 2019/20 Internal Audit Plan and the modernisation of the audit process it represented, as summarised in the ‘Hot Topics/Audit Partnership Response’ table [agenda p.56]. The topic headings for ‘Workforce Culture’ and ‘Sustainability: Environmental & Social Ethics’ were particularly welcome in his view. He asked for examples of this new approach in the 2019/20 Plan.

 

The Audit Manager informed Members that the list of new ‘Hot Topics’ had been garnered through consultation with London and Kent Audit Groups, professional bodies such as CIPFA and a review of other published audit plans in the South East. The aim was to look forward rather than backwards, and to ensure the Council had the right skills to address the new challenges, including ‘Communication: Brand and Reputation. At present, the Audit Partnership’s response to meeting the new ‘Hot Topics’ was aspirational, with ‘brand protection’ undertaken through the Council’s Risk-Management approach, not solely through assurance rated work. Regarding ‘Workplace Culture’ this would be ‘piloted’ in Sevenoaks first, given that Council’s culture-centric profile. A framework would then be established for the work at Dartford. The Board would be kept updated, and had a vital role to play in the Council’s switch to incorporate workplace culture and environmental values into its audit work.

 

The Chairman advised that future training for the Audit Board would be more focussed via the Audit Manager, including fundamental training for new Members following the May elections, including the possibility of a new Board Chairman. He asked that a paper on proposed Member training be submitted to the new Board in July 2019, including the role of the External Auditor Grant Thornton UK in the Board’s proceedings.

 

                        RESOLVED:

 

1.    That Members approve the Internal Audit Plan 2019/20 as presented in Appendix A in the agenda;

2.    That Members note the future work proposed to review the Audit Partnership;

3.    That a paper on future training for Board Members be presented to the Board at its next meeting in July 2019, including the role of the External Auditor.

 

Supporting documents: