(Link to Council Priorities: All)
The Committee considered the International Standards on Auditing representations, as required by the Council’s external auditors, Grant Thornton.
On consideration of the management responses, one of the Independent Members considered that the response to the question ‘Have any specific fraud risks, or areas with a high risk of fraud, been identified and what has been done to mitigate these risks?’ could also have included the Council’s Whistleblowing Policy and the participation in the National Fraud Initiative. The Internal Audit Manager commented that whilst they had not been included within that specific management response, references to the Whistleblowing Policy and the participation in the National Fraud Initiative had been included within the document. The Committee considered that to strengthen the management response for that specific question, a reference to the Whistleblowing Policy and the participation in the National Fraud Initiative be included in the response provided to the External Auditors.
With regard to the section on how the Committee oversees the management’s processes, the Independent Member considered that the response to the first question, as set out on page 11 of the agenda, was not clear and did not answer the questions raised. He was particularly concerned about the communication channels for employees to be advised of the work associated with the Audit and Standards Committee and the management processes in relation to fraud and ethical behaviour. The Internal Audit Manager commented that the Council’s Intranet had a specific Fraud Hub section and a number of Fraud Awareness training sessions for staff were due to be held with effect from April 2019. Ms. Ironmonger, Engagement Lead, Grant Thornton, also took the opportunity to explain the rationale behind the question and the response. It was noted that should there be any issues in relation to employees and fraud / ethical behaviour, this would be reported to the Committee in the normal way. The Head of Legal Services further commented that there were various forms of communication to employees including letters from the Chief Executive to all staff regarding Declarations of Interest and Gifts & Hospitality and that this document was a summary of this information as required by the External Auditors.
Resolved that, subject to the inclusion of a reference to the Whistleblowing Policy and the participation in the National Fraud Initiative within the Question ‘Have any specific fraud risks, or areas with a high risk of fraud, been identified and what has been done to mitigate these risks?’, the International Standards on Auditing Representations be received and noted.