K.Jones, Chief Executive, introduced the representatives from Audit Wales and explained that the Council’s external auditors attend Council on an annual basis to outline the studies they had undertaken and the conclusions drawn. This also gives Members the opportunity to ask questions directly to the auditors.
Members noted that Mr.C.Davies who was currently the lead auditor with Audit Wales will be superceded by Ms. N. Jenkins.
Mr C.Davies highlighted that the Audit Summary combines the Annual Audit Letter and the Annual Improvement Report that were previously produced as separate documents in order to provide a single summary of the findings of performance and financial audit work undertaken by Audit Wales as well as planned future audit work.
Council heard that the authority had met its legal duties for improvement planning and annual reporting statutory duties place on it by the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009. In addition, the Council was in a strong financial position which enabled the Council to be well placed to manage its financial sustainability over the medium term.
It was highlighted that there were opportunities for the Council to strengthen corporate arrangements for safeguarding and in applying the sustainable development principles, a requirement of the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2014. There were also opportunities to use the new Corporate Performance Management System to improve the way information is used to drive business planning.
Mrs.N.Jenkins, Wales Audit Office addressed Council outlining gthe forward programme and looked forward to working with members and officers of Neath Port Talbot.
Members raised the following points:
Members queried whether any work had been undertaken looking at deprivation across the 22 authorities in Wales. It was explained that Audit Wales work on local projects with authorities but highlight any national studies that have a local impact. Where possible comparisons are undertaken.
A discussion took place on the availability of comparative information in regard to Council reserves and areas of deprivation. It was explained that the information is available in the public domain. In addition the latest Financial Sustainability report will be considered by Members in due course which does contain some of the information requested.
Further discussion took place on the desirability of examining levels of deprivation and economic inactivity across Wales to identify good practice. The auditors confirmed that deprivation was one of the key strands of their work and would be happy to work across authorities in future and happy to discuss further.
That the work undertaken by Audit Wales as contained in the Annual Summary 2020 be noted.