Agenda item

External Audit Plan 2020/21

Report of Council’s External Auditors (Deloitte)


The Committee considered the report which detailed the Council’s External Audit plan for 2020/21, as set out in Appendix A.


The Deputy Chief Finance Officer (DCFO) presented the report and its findings.


The DCFO explained that the Covid-19 pandemic had an unexpected impact on the Council, including audit timing. The expectation was that the Council and the Council’s External Auditor, Deloitte, had sufficient resources from 22 March through September 2021 to complete all outstanding audits, including the External Audit Plan 2020/21.


The DCFO highlighted that following Sir Tony Redman’s review in September 2020, the Council had amended the publication of its External Audit 2020/21 from July to September 2021, and that central government had consulted on the timetable.


The DCFO invited Mr Sheriff of Deloitte to make further comments.


Mr Sheriff detailed the areas of risk which Deloitte expected to focus on in relation to the Council’s External Audit Plan 2020/21.


Discussions included:


·         Questions surrounding when the External Audit 2020/21 would begin. Mr Sheriff confirmed that the External Audit 2020/21 was expected to begin in the summer of 2021.

·         Questions related to the process Deloitte had implemented which identified risks set out in External Audit Plan 2020/21. Mr Sheriff explained that there were several required risks and lists that the Council’s External Auditors had to review as part of the audit plan.

·         When the External Audit of the Statement of Accounts 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 would be completed. Mr Sheriff explained that if there were no sufficiently problematic areas, he expected the completion of the Statement of Accounts 2018/19 to be completed through April 2021, with the Statement of Accounts 2019/20 likely to be July 2021 and the Statement of Accounts 2019/20 with a target completion date of September 2021.

·         Whether or not the Council’s Officers were confident for Deloitte to begin the External Audit of the Statement of Accounts 2019/2020 once the 2018/19 External Audit was completed. The DCFO confirmed that although there may be some amendments to the 2018/19 External Audit, Officers did not want the 2019/20 External Audit to be delayed any further.

·         Whether or not the timescales presented to the Committee for the outstanding External Audits were the same for Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC). Mr Sheriff confirmed that the timescales were the same for both authorities.

·         Questions surrounding the Council’s Finance team staffing levels and the effect of shared services with EBC. The DCFO explained that there had been various changes in staffing levels which had been addressed during previous meetings of the Committee.


The Council’s Chief Finance Officer (CFO) explained that she began working for the Council in 2018 during the fourth phase of the Joint Transformation Programme (JTP) agreed between the Lewes District Council (LDC) and EBC. Part of the delay in the External Audit of the Statement of Accounts 2018/19 was as a result of the CX Housing System used by LDC, which led to systems implementation issues. She further explained that although the draft accounts were ready in June 2018, she wanted to ensure that she had the opportunity to thoroughly assess the accounts.


The CFO highlighted that although there had been changes within the staffing of the Finance team, the new team was strong with greater resiliency, and had a much higher level of experience.


Resolved: That the report be noted.


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