Audit Wales presented their Audit Plan which included the details of the work in which they intended to undertake during 2022-23; in order to discharge their statutory responsibilities, inform the Council when the work will be undertaken, how much it will cost and who will undertake the work.
The responsibilities and financial statements were set out in paragraph eight of the circulated Plan. The following was highlighted from the Audit Wales Plan for Neath Port Talbot Council:
<![endif]>Audit Wales were required to give an opinion
on the truth and fairness of the Council’s financial statements; and to assess
whether the narrative report and annual governance statement, prepared in line
with guidance, were consistent with the accounts and Audit Wales’ knowledge of
<![endif]>When auditing the accounts, Audit Wales
adopted a concept of materiality when carrying out their works; they looked at
misstatements that might result in the reader of the accounts being misled.
<![endif]>Audit Wales reported the level of what they
judged to be misstatements, to be material to the Council, in their financial
statements. This was noted to be around £5.5million.
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>The audit approach was based upon Audit Wales’ assessment of the risks of material misstatement; at the planning stage of the audit, they had identified three risks which were summarised in Exhibit One in the circulated Plan. It was mentioned that this element also set out the work Audit Wales planned to do to address those risks.
A discussion took place in relation to the performance audit work that had been undertaken; the detail of this work could be found on page 21 of the circulated report. It was explained that performance audit was based around the five ways of working along with the three E’s, Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness; Audit Wales had a duty to base their work around these key areas.
The Committee was informed that during the pandemic, Audit Wales adopted a flexible approach across their performance audits with Councils across Wales; they ensured they were consulting with Councils, as they do every year, as well as informing their work going forward.
It was noted that Audit Wales held annual workshops with Councils in order to discuss initial thoughts in terms of the risks identified, and what Councils were currently working on in terms of those risks; following this, Audit Wales compiled a programme of audit work, which covered local, regional and national elements. It was mentioned that the Plan set out those three levels of work for Neath Port Talbot Council, with particular emphasis on the local performance work, details of which could be found in Exhibit Two of the circulated Plan.
Audit Wales highlighted the performance audit program for Neath Port Talbot for 2022-2023. The first noted element in the table was assurance and risk assessment; the identified areas for the Council to focus on were listed as financial position, capital programme management, governance, use of performance information with a focus on service user feedback and outcomes, and setting of well-being objectives.
It was confirmed that Audit Wales had started their thematic review of unscheduled care; the project brief had been made available, and the Audit Wales team across health and local government were working on this.
Members were made aware that it had been agreed for another thematic review to be undertaken across all Councils in Wales for 2022-23; last year (2021-22) the review was based around workforce management and asset management, and this year it had been confirmed that the review would be based around digital work. It was stated that the review will focus on gathering information on how Councils had learnt and been innovative throughout the pandemic; all Councils had to readjust what they were planning on doing before the pandemic, and the pandemic might have been a catalyst to make improvements to the way Councils work. It was noted that digital services became a solution for the future for public services, therefore it was an important theme to consider.
The Councils local project was noted to have been agreed; Audit Wales will be looking at the effectiveness of scrutiny in Neath Port Talbot Council. Members were informed that Audit Wales would discuss this further in the new year, to determine how the work was being progressed; there were also opportunities for Audit Wales to inform the Council of best practices and learning from other Councils.
To conclude the report, it was highlighted that the estimated audit fee for 2022 was shown in Exhibit Three of the circulated Plan; Exhibit Four set out the main members of the audit team, and the proposed timetable in Exhibit Five detailed the timeframe for when the Council could expect Audit Wales to complete and report on the work.
That the report be noted.