Agenda item

Agenda item

Annual Audit Opinion 2021/22

The report of the Head of Audit and Risk Management is enclosed.


The Committee considered a report of the Head of Audit and Risk Management which discussed the delivery of the annual programme of audit work designed to raise standards of governance, risk management and internal control across the Council, in accordance with Public Sector Internal Audit Standard 2450.


The report provided Members with the Head of Audit and Risk Management’s annual assurance opinion and report on the Council’s system of governance, risk management and internal control for 2021/22.


In addition to the scope, purpose and context of the opinion, the report also included information about:


  • The overall opinion for the year to March 2022 (cited as ‘Reasonable’), including key strengths, risks and issues arising from audit work
  • The delivery of the Audit Plan
  • Audit assurance, risks and issues
  • Children’s Services and Education Directorate Opinions
  • Adults Services and Public Health Directorate Opinions
  • Corporate Core Directorate Opinions, including Information and ICT, Financial Systems, Capital Programme, Commercial Governance, Our Town Hall and the Estates Services Review
  • Procurement, Contracts and Commissioning Directorate Opinions, including Carbon Reduction in Procurement, Waivers and Contract Extensions, and Follow Up Review – Children’s Placements, Supplier Due Diligence
  • Neighbourhoods Directorate Opinions including Governance and Oversight Housing Operations Service, Governance and the Oversight, Management of Void and Empty Properties, Grant Certifications, Highways Compensation Events
  • Growth and Development Directorate including the AVRO Hollows Tenant Management Organisation
  • Counter-Fraud and Investigations
  • Proactive and Reactive Work; and
  • An overview of the current position of earlier Audit Recommendations


The key points of discussion in the meeting were:


  • The scope and scale of the local audit framework
  • Avro Hollows Tenant Management Organisation (AHTMO)
  • The Management of void and empty former Northwards properties


The Committee thanked officers for the comprehensive and detailed report and a discussion followed on the changing scope of governance arrangements within local government audit in reflection of the increasing move towards the partnership delivery model.


A member asked for further information about the information provided on the limited assurance opinion issued for the AHTMO, noting that there had been an issue over the logging of requests for minor repairs and fundamental differences in expectations between the Council’s Strategic Housing Service and AHTMO regarding basic elements of service delivery. The importance of ensuring local  ward members on such issues was also cited. The Head of Audit and Risk Management explained that this largely related to quality assurance measures for service delivery which had resulted in a number of actions being put forward in respect of refining the Modular Management Agreement (MMA) which set out the respective responsibilities of the Council and the TMO.  He agreed to liaise with the Strategic Housing Service  concerning the request to ensure that local ward members are advised of such issues as a matter of routine.


There was a discussion about the management of void and empty former Northwards properties and the associated actions issued alongside the ‘Limited’ assurance opinion. A member sought further information on likely timescales for the completion of the audit of void properties, and the implications for charging of Council Tax amongst the other recommendations put forward. The Head of Audit and Risk Management explained that performance had fallen during the pandemic and that it had been acknowledged amongst leaders in the service, that improvements were needed.  A completion date of September 2022 had been identified however it was likely that some of those action points could be completed before this date. The Head of Audit and Risk Management agreed to provide further information in the next update to this Committee about  the action plan for the auditing of void properties (including how  and by whom that would be delivered) and would include specific reference to the management of lost rental income




1.    To note the Annual Assurance Opinion (2020/21)


2.    To agree that the next scheduled update on former Northwards properties shall include information on the agreed action plan for the management of void and empty properties, including the management of lost rental income.



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