Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: This meeting will be held digitally. The meeting can be viewed from the link posted to https://www.hastings.gov.uk/my-council/cm/
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Items No. Item
Apologies for absence
Declarations of interest
Minutes to follow
RESOLVED - that the minutes of the meeting held on the 21st January 2021 be approved as a true record.
- HBC Draft Financial Statement 2019-20 , item 106. PDF 2 MB
- HBC Draft Financial Statement 2019-20 v1 , item 106. PDF 2 MB
The Chief Finance Officer introduced the report to approve the Statement of Accounts (2019-20) on behalf of the Council in accordance with the Accounts & Audit Regulations 2015.
The Accounts & Audit Regulations 2015 would normally require the Council to approve the Statement of Accounts by the 31st July each year. This year the Council had until 30th September 2020 to publish its accounts, which it did achieve.
The 2019/20 accounts highlight a reduced deficit to what was originally anticipated. The main changes that have been made since publication in September 2020 relate to pension costs, with an improved position being report on the pension fund deficit. Other amendments to the draft accounts relate to the redundancy reserve although the accounts have not changed in any material way.
The final accounts audit is still to be completed and will require full sign-off at a later date. Therefore, an additional recommendation (recommendation 2 in the resolution below) was proposed to allow the Chief Finance Officer, with the approval of the Chair of the Audit Committee, to make any further minor amendments to the final accounts before sign-off.
1. The draft Statement of Accounts be approved and a copy signed by the Chair of the Audit Committee in accordance with the Accounts & Audit Regulations 2015.
2. Delegated authority is given to the Chief Finance Officer to put through changes to the approved accounts subject to gaining the approval of the Chair of the Audit Committee
Compliance with statutory requirements and good practice. The Council is accountable for the use of public money and continuously seeks to improve Value for Money.
The Chief Finance Officer introduced Mr Conlan and Mr Wells from the external auditors, Grant Thornton. Mr Wells updated the Committee on the Audit Completion Report.
The Audit Plan was presented to the Committee last year and set out the areas of focus and those areas described as significant risks. That assessment of risks is reflected through the audit process and the outcome presented in the Audit Completion Report.
Mr Wells said that one of the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic was the slight delay in the production of the financial statements. It is envisaged that the audit process will be completed within the next two weeks.
One of the areas that has been impacted due to the pandemic has been property valuation. The valuers provide what is known as a material uncertainty, acknowledging uncertainty in the valuation. This highlights that a regular revaluation is required. The material uncertainty is reflected in the draft statement of accounts, and the final audit opinion will point to the disclosure of the material uncertainty.
In relation to the value for money assessment Mr Wells said the external auditors had considered the arrangements concerning the medium-term financial sustainability of the Council. It is concluded that the Council does have appropriate arrangements in place to maintain its financial sustainability in the medium term. Therefore, an unqualified value for money conclusion will be issued.
The Chair asked if the Council’s property portfolio had been valued within recent years. The Chief Finance Officer confirmed that the Council operates a rolling programme of valuations and the entire portfolio is revalued over a 5-year period. If any material changes occur in-year those specific properties would be looked at. Mr Wells informed the Committee that the statement of accounts shows the years over which the Council’s assets have been valued, with around £72 million of assets being revalued in 2019/20.The Council has taken a prudent approach of valuing a large proportion of its assets in-year which improves that accuracy of reported financial statements.
That the report and action plan be accepted.
Compliance with statutory requirements and good practice. The Council is accountable for the use of public money and continuously seeks to improve Value for Money. The Council's external auditors are required to submit a report to the Council's Audit Committee on any matters that are identified during their audit.
(The Chair declared the meeting closed at 6.15pm)
Notification of any additional urgent items (if any)