The above document was prepared as part of the work performed in accordance with statutory functions by Audit Wales. The Outline Audit Plan specified the statutory responsibilities as an external auditor and the obligations fulfilled under the Code of Audit Practice.
Members of the Committee might have noted the slightly different format by comparison to last year, as this was because it was an outline plan and not the final plan, which would be presented in the summer.
The Audit Wales Officer provided the Committee with the headlines of the Outline Plan. A detailed Audit Plan would be shared later in the year following the completion of planning work. This would set out the estimated audit fee and the work that intended to be undertaken by the Audit Team to address the audit risks identified and other key areas of audit focus during 2023.
The document also outlined the Audit timeline of key dates for delivery of audit work and planned outputs, along with the key changes to ISA 315 and the potential impact on Newport City Council. Fundamental change in planning the risk assessment process. This was set out in detail in Appendix 1.
In terms of main headlines of this outline plan, on page 85 of the report pack set out the fact that they could not yet confirm the estimate for the year. Reference was made to published fee scheme, which was approved by the Senedd earlier this year, which exceeded expectations of fees this year due to the introduction of ISA 315, in the region of 12/18%. The exact fee estimate would be confirmed later in the year, which only affected the financial work. There was an element of inflationary increase follow in due course.
Key team members were also set out in the document. The only point to flag up with the committee was the new Audit Lead, Katherine Watts was welcomed to the team.
The proposed audit timeline was also set out and for the financial audit, the proposal was to target completion of audit and certification of accounts by the end of November 2023, this was recently communicated to Section 151 officers throughout Wales and AW were in discussion with finance teams to discuss practicalities.
In terms of performance audit programme, the timelines were to be confirmed at this stage.
Committee Member Comments:
§ Councillor Cocks considered that most Local Authorities were experiencing a similar state of financial crisis. Councillor Cocks went on to say, all credit was due to officers of the council putting together the budget. It did however feel like a strange time to increase audit demands under the current circumstances. The Audit Wales Officer appreciated the comments made and understood the financial pressures faced by Local Authorities. The issue faced by Audit Wales was the introduction of new ISA 315 and was therefore not a choice and had horrendous timing under the circumstances. Audit Wales had to comply with new standards which also brought in additional work but fully understood and empathised with the points made by the Councillor.
§ The Chair thanked the Wales Audit Officer for his presentation and considered that the Thematic Review would be interesting regarding the financial sustainability in Local Government and awaited the update in due course.
The Governance and Audit Committee noted the Audit Wales NCC Outline Audit Plan for 2023.