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Annual Governance Statement 2021/22

5. Current and previous year issues arising from internal audit activity 2021/22

5.1 In his Internal Audit annual report for 2021/22, presented to the Chief Executive and Corporate Management Team in June 2022, the Head of Audit and Risk provided an overview of the activities of the Internal Audit section for the year 2021/22.

5.2 This included highlights of issues arising from Internal Audit activity during the year.  In this respect, the Head of Audit and Risk commented on the following:

  • The significant proportion of Internal Audit staff who were temporarily seconded to other duties for a period during part of the year, in response to the pandemic. This impacted on the ability of Internal Audit to undertake planned work and details of the impact on the work programme and how outstanding work was prioritised were reported to the Audit and Scrutiny Panel in March 2022. Although this has had some impact on Internal Audit’s ability to deliver all planned work, the Head of Audit and Risk reported that “I am content that sufficient work has been undertaken to support the preparation of my annual opinion”.
  • A small number of audit assignments reported during 2021/22 which offered only limited assurance. In all cases, management committed to a range of relevant improvement actions, some of which have already been completed.  In this respect Internal Audit will continue to monitor progress on these issues during 2022/23 to provide senior management and the Audit and Scrutiny Panel with further assurance that relevant key controls are operating effectively.
  • The results from detailed Internal Audit work examining the council’s corporate governance arrangements which suggest that compliance with the requirements of the corporate governance framework adopted by the council continued to be positive with no significant weaknesses or areas of concern highlighted.
  • Internal Audit work which suggests that despite significant and increasing challenges, key financial controls and financial management arrangements continued to operate to a generally high standard within the council.
  • All audit investigations of suspected fraud and/or irregularities are reported to the Audit and Scrutiny Panel in line with the agreed Internal Audit reporting protocol.  There were no material frauds or irregularities identified in 2021/22 that required to be brought to the attention of the Corporate Management Team.
  • The ongoing need for the council to continue to respond to challenges arising from the public health emergency, but there was less direct pressure on governance and internal controls than in 2020/21 when the council had to transition very quickly to significantly different ways of operating with consequential impacts on governance, internal control, and risk management arrangements. 
  • While there are no issues that require the Head of Audit and Risk to quality his annual opinion, there are a small number of areas highlighted which will continue to be the focus of future audit coverage:​​​​​​​
    • Programme of Work reports to committee - which are considered not to always easily allow elected members to monitor and/or assess progress against plans (timescales and budgets).Similarly, there is currently no mechanism to easily allow senior management to review progress across the range of Programme of Work activities. Management has previously committed to improving the ability of key stakeholders to monitor the progress of major projects / programme of work activities.
    • The Strategic Performance Framework - supportive of the approach adopted, Internal Audit recognises that implementation of effective, timely, and regular performance reporting on key strategic and operational performance measures to the Corporate Management Team and Service Committees has been significantly impacted over the last two years due to the need to respond to, and prioritise resources as a result of, the pandemic.
    • Current and future operating model - and the linked planned developments impacting upon workforce, digital transformation, service re-design, assets, and governance and how these actions are managed and progressed and the extent to which these contribute towards the achievement of the council’s ambitions.

5.3 Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and notwithstanding the results of some specific individual audit assignments, overall the Head of Audit and Risk reported that he was satisfied that the council’s internal control and governance arrangements remained reasonably robust throughout 2021/22.​​​​​​​

6. Previous year issues - 2020/21

6.1 In his Internal Audit annual report for 2020/21 the Head of Audit and Risk provided an overview of the activities of the Internal Audit section for that year.  While this included highlights of a number of the more significant issues which arose from the work undertaken by Internal Audit during the year, none of these required actions which carried forward into the following year or which have not already been identified in paragraph 5.2 above.

Page last updated:
28 Oct 2022

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