To consider a report from the Group Audit Manager.
Members considered a report from the Group Audit Manager which provided a summary of the work of Internal Audit between 15 December 2020 and 31 January 2021.
The Group Audit Manager highlighted the key points of the report. He began by explaining that work was progressing on the reviews in the 2020/21 audit plan but that delays in starting 2020/21 audit work had been caused by the impact on Directorate teams in responding to COVID-19 and the additional support provided by Internal Audit as part of the wider Council response. The Group Audit Manager assured members that Internal Audit work to recover the position on the 2020/21 audit plan would continue up to the date of the Head of Internal Audit opinion on 31 May 2021.
Members heard that the level of audits that were receiving Reasonable or Substantial assurance in 2020/21 was 73% (taking account of all current draft and final reports issued). This was only slight lower than the 76% at the same stage in 2019/20. The Group Audit Manager as Head of Internal Audit was content with the progress made to date, the intended coverage of the audit plan and the work underway.
Work in the 2020/21 audit plan, which had not commenced at 31 January 2021, had been re-risk assessed and it was proposed that 6 audits be included in the draft 2021/22 audit plan.
The Group Audit Manager having attended several regional and national events for heads of internal audit over the last two months summarised some of the key messages as:
· a mixed picture across the country in terms of ability to give a Head of Internal Audit Opinion for 2020/21 without any limitation of scope
· the level of normal internal audit work undertaken by audit teams in 2020/21 differs significantly across the country and across the type of authorities (counties, mets, districts)
· several different approaches being taken to giving the Head of Internal Audit opinion in 2020/21 depending on the extent of normal audit work undertaken in 2020/21 but a clear message of utilising as many sources of evidence as possible.
Clarification was sought regarding the Internal Audit teams work for ensuring value for money. The Group Audit Manager explained that the processes in place and the audits carried out by the Internal Audit team always had value for money in mind but unlike the External Auditor there was not a specific review carried out to assess value for money.
The Chair also sought clarification regarding the Internal Audit recommendation for Allocation for Personal Budgets which stated that ‘Annual reviews of care and support plans not carried out for all service users with personal budgets, as required by the Care Act’.
It was confirmed that this recommendation was not suggesting that the appropriate support plans had not been put in place or that these were not monitored throughout the year, instead the recommendation was in reference to the requirement to carry out an annual review of all service users.