Annual Statement of Accounts
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Members considered the report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer which sought Members approval of the revised accounts containing the amendments detailed in the report and to seek approval and acknowledgement of the letter of representation. These accounts were updated from those reported to the June Committee and took account of any changes that have arisen since that time including the findings of external audit.
The Committee received a paper containing revised changes to the Group Accounts. The changes would be subject to consideration by the external auditors before the opinion on the annual account was released.
The Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer made a statement to the Committee regarding the annual accounts. The Committee was informed that nationally there have been some changes to how local authority external audits have been completed, this has included:
· The accelerated timescale for completing the audited accounts deadline set for 31 July.
· The Financial Reporting Council requirement for external audit firms to focus on areas where there are judgements and estimates, e.g. asset valuations and the additional assurance being sought in this area.
· The ‘McCLoud judgement’, which led to all local authorities having to get their accounting position for the pension fund (IAS19) recalculated at additional cost to take into account a potential additional liability relating to an age discrimination issue on the transitional arrangements in the judges and fire service pension scheme. The LGPS is outside of this ruling but may be impacted in the future so an estimate of the additional liability was required. This has resulted in additional work. With reference to the Council’s accounts, this was not material and the accounts have not been adjusted.
Reference was made to a reduced capacity within external audit firms following the recent tender exercise and associated reduced fee. This reduction has impacted on a lot of local authorities and has been reported nationally.
Locally this had translated into:
· Changes to IAS19 (reporting on employee benefits) - these are not material and no adjustment has to be made.
· The Council’s external auditors have had to significantly increase the sample size for valuations. This was notified later on in the audit and the work to review these has not been fully completed prior to the latest revised accounts being issued. In view of this, however, it is not believed there are any material issues outstanding, but this is subject to confirmation by the external auditors.
· With regard to the Group Accounts - there is also an issue with the land valuations carried out in respect of the airport assets. This does not impact on the council's or the airports bottom line position, although some adjustments were required and included a restatement of prior year figures. A further adjustment was made, after the revised accounts were issued and confirmation is required.
The Committee were informed that there has been a great deal of pressure on the Finance Team to complete the outstanding work in time for the Council to meet the deadline and thanks were given to the Council Finance Team and the External Auditors for their hard work and dedication.
The Chair invited questions from the Committee.
Members requested further explanation on:
- Pension liability (£21.1 million) to the Council.
- Accounting for valuations of Airport and Convention Centre land
Officers reported that the £21.1 million pension liability is a non-material and notional figure used for accounting purposes and is an estimate of potential future liability based on employer contribution to the pension funding scheme. The figure has not impact on the actual position of the pension fund or council accounts.
With reference to Airport and Convention Centre land it was reported that the figures presented in the Airport accounts for land and buildings is subject to an external valuation process to provide a notional ‘far value’ and bring the airport accounting process in line with the Council’s as required by the Local Authority Accounting Code. This process had resulted in a change to the figure presented. The Council owns the freehold on the airport and convention centre land and accounts for this. The other items owned by the Airport and the Convention Centre are included within the Group Accounts.
Members thanked the Finance Team and the External Auditors for their hard work in the completion of the Council’s annual accounts in view of the challenging deadline for their approval and publication.
The External Auditors informed the Committee that it was anticipated that there would be no further material issues to be considered and an opinion would be released, however it was necessary to complete the checks relating to the Group Account amendments. In addition, the were three issues outstanding relating to land and buildings valuations which were nearing completion.
1. To note the amendments made to the annual accounts since they were reported to the Audit Committee in June.
2. Approve the revised annual accounts including the accounting policies contained within them.
3. Agree to not amend the pensions figures included in the accounts following the receipt of a revised IAS19 report as detailed in paragraph 17. This is below the materiality level.
4. Approve and acknowledge the letter of representation in Appendix 1, which will be signed by the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurerand the Chair of the Meeting.
5. To note the submission of the Group Account Amendments as at 30 July 2019 and that the amendments are subject to checking by the Council’s external auditor.
6. To note that in the event of any material changes being identified from the external auditors outstanding work, it may be necessary to arrange a meeting of the committee to agree changes to the annual accounts.
7. To thank officers of the Finance Team and the External Auditors for their work in the preparation and audit of the Council’s Annual Accounts.
Publication date: 10/09/2019
Date of decision: 30/07/2019
Decided at meeting: 30/07/2019 - Audit Committee