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Disclosures of Interest
In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, councillors are reminded that it is a requirement to declare interests where appropriate.
No disclosures of interests were made.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Audit Committee held on 3 March 2021.
The minutes of the meeting of the Audit Committee held on 3 March 2021 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Public Question Time
To consider any written questions that were submitted in advance and accepted in line with the Constitution. These will be read to the Committee and be followed by a response. The questioner will receive an emailed copy of the response given at the meeting. There will be no supplementary questions.
No written questions had been submitted by members of the public.
The Council has received confirmation from Ernst and Young that the total final external audit fees for 2019/20 are £90,824.
Following the concerns expressed by the Committee at its last few meetings that the fees would be larger than initially estimated, the final fees were then circulated to the Chair and Vice-Chair who have in turn requested that this matter be brought urgently before the Committee for its discussion.
An extract from Ernst and Young’s final Annual Audit Letter for the Year Ended 2019/20 is attached, which confirms the total final external audit fees charged.
That the Committee decide what action, if any, it wishes to take.
The Head of Corporate Finance introduced the item, which requested that the Committee consider the Ernst & Young (EY) fees document set out in item five of the agenda. The document had been circulated to the Chair and Vice-Chair, who had requested that the matter be brought before the Committee due to concerns raised previously that the total fees were larger than initially estimated.
A statement submitted by EY, published as a supplementary agenda prior to the meeting, was read to the Committee. The statement set out information regarding the work carried out and a summary of the fees charged.
The Committee then raised the following matters:
· The final fees were approximately £40,000 greater than the Council had budgeted for.
· Following a query from a Committee member, it was heard that EY employed staff with varying levels of experience, but as the Council’s audit was done remotely, it was difficult to gauge the experience of staff allocated to the audit.
· PSAA (Public Sector Audit Appointments) was to determine the proposed variation from £50,291 to £77,691; it was also confirmed that PSAA would determine the further increase from £77,691 to £90,824.
· A Committee member queried whether the Council could have taken any action to prevent the increase in fees. Finance officers explained that this was not the case; EY had given increased audit regulation as the main cause of the increase. There was, however, a small fee for additional work for audit papers which may have been avoided.
The Chair proposed that the Mayor be requested to place an item on the agenda for the next ordinary meeting of the Full Council (14 July 2021) relating to the increase in final external audit fees and that a representative from EY be invited to that meeting to present their justification for the increase. It was proposed that Full Council be requested to consider the justification and any further relevant information in relation to the matter.
A recorded vote was then taken in accordance with the Council’s Virtual Committee Procedure Rules. The names of the councillors voting for and against the proposal, along with any abstentions, were recorded as follows:
For the proposal:
Councillors T Belben, Flack, Millar-Smith, and Purdy (4).
Against the proposal:
1) That a representative from Ernst and Young, the Council’s External Auditors, be invited to the next ordinary meeting of the Full Council (14 July 2021) and that the Mayor be requested to place an item on the agenda relating to the increase in final external audit fees to hear EY’s justification for the increase.
2) That the Full Council considers the justification presented by Ernst and Young and any further information or updates relevant to the matter, and decides what action, if any, it wishes to take.
Committee members acknowledged a further proposal by the Chair to write to EY requesting a full detailed breakdown of the fees due. The Chair also proposed to write to PSAA on behalf of ... view the full minutes text for item 4.