Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Sue Hills/Christopher Wakeford/Carlie Plowman/Ben Clarke 

No. Item




An apology of absence was received from Cllr Brian Sangha. 



Minutes pdf icon PDF 90 KB


The minutes of the meeting on 09 February 2016 were signed by the Chair.



Declarations of Interest


No declarations of interest were made.    



Review of Accounting Policies 2015-16 pdf icon PDF 74 KB

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The Principal Accountant (General Fund) presented to Members a report for approval of the statement of policies as set out in Appendix two of the report giving a brief overview:


  • The review of accounting polices is an annual report, which although is not a statutory requirement to bring to Members, is nevertheless deemed good practice across Local Government and is therefore s  always brought to F&A Committee
  • This report reviews the polices used when closing the 2015-16 accounts
  • The only significant change from last year is shown in section 2.3 of the report: the proposed minimum transaction limit for the accruals process is now £500
  • This allows GBC to better streamline year-end processes looking ahead to a shortened statutory closing of accounts deadline in 2017-18
  • The accounts are not expected to materially alter based on the 2014-15 year-end data which would only of excluded 2% of the overall value of accruals
  • Grant Thornton’s view was sought, and they are in agreement with our approach, highlighting  the importance to start streamlining processes ahead of the 31st July2017-18 deadline for accounts preparation and audit.  


Following several questions from Members the Director (Corporate Services) , the Assistant Director (Corporate Services) and the Principal Accountant (General Fund) advised the Committee that:


  • The Property Acquisitions Group will be taking money from the useable reserves
  • The rental income from property bought will be the revenue stream
  • Members will see a reduction in useable reserves on the balance sheet
  • It will not be subject to capital gain tax
  • The proposed minimum transaction limit will be set to ensure transactions over and above £500 are accounted for, whilst those below the de-minimise threshold are not included.


The Director (Corporate Services) explained that when high value homes are sold the Government takes capital receipts received from the sale.


The Director (Corporate Services) advised that following concerns from Members he would produce a document that further explained treatment of Right to Buy receipts and distribute it to Members.


Members endorsed the use of the Accounting Policies as outlined at Appendix Two to the report.  


Audit & Counter Fraud Strategy 2016-2019 pdf icon PDF 72 KB

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The Audit & Counter Fraud Manager (Shared Service) presented to the Committee a report on how the new shared service would deliver its strategy for Gravesham and Medway.


The Audit & Counter Fraud Manager (Shared Service) advised Members that officers had looked at the set number of audit assurance days at both authorities as well as the split of resources both authorities issued to the Fraud Service.


The Audit & Counter Fraud Manager (Shared Service) explained that GBC contribute 38% and Medway contribute 62% respectively to the shared service meaning that roughly all costs and resources are shared 60-40 between the two authorities. 


After a few questions from several Members the Audit & Counter Fraud Manager (Shared Service) informed that:


  • It a responsive service so all resources will be diverted as they need it but to start off with the workload will commence at roughly 40% to GBC and the other 60% to Medway
  • There is a refund scheme in the case that more resources have been spent than set out in the terms of the shared service agreement; a reconciliation at the end of the year


Members approved the Audit & Counter Fraud Service Strategy 2016-2020 presented at Appendix two. 



Audit & Counter Fraud Charter pdf icon PDF 73 KB

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The Audit & Counter Fraud Manager (Shared Service) explained that the new Audit & Counter Fraud Charter included the changes made by the new shared service.


The Head of Audit & Counter Shared Services as the Chief Audit Executive of both authorities can go straight to the Chief Executive with regard to decisions for independence purposes, bypassing the section 151 officers if she feels she needs to. 


Following a question the Audit & Counter Fraud Manager (Shared Service) advised that if there was a problem with the section 151 officers the Head of Audit & Counter Shared Services could bypass and go straight to Members.


Members approved the Charter presented at Appendix two of the report.



Audit & Counter Fraud Plan 2016-17 pdf icon PDF 75 KB

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The Audit & Counter Fraud Manager (Shared Services) presented to the Committee a report on the Audit & Counter Fraud Plan set out for 2016-17.


The main difference from last year’s plan is the appearance as the tables shown in the report reflect the new corporate objectives and not everything is reported annually. Some of the work covered is subject to review in case of any new emerging risks.


The June Committee of F&A will look at the plan of the current year.


Following several questions from Members the Director (Corporate Services) and the Audit & Counter Fraud Manager (Shared Service) advised that:


  • More audit days are available as the merger between the two authorities has created more resources and there are additional funds and auditors which is why the amount of audit days is more steady
  • If an allocated amount of days set to cover a certain area was not needed then the audit day can be transferred to another emerging risk for example that might need a longer amount of audit time which would all be shown to Members in the quarterly reports
  • Audit carry out quality assurance work on aspects of the Plan which have already been audited
  • In addition to the allocated audit days some days of the year have been set aside for management purposes which would include carrying out peer reviews some of which can be carried out by other authorities
  • These are not organized yet but it will be discussed with the Head of Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Services and a reply will be brought back to the Committee
  • The cost of the Audit team is a necessity as there is an ongoing need for audit:


-       No governance could be produced without it:

-       There are already precautions in place to check the quality of audit work; Management Team are made fully aware of all recommendations and responses first

-       Half annually and annually reports are created for F&A Committee which will soon be quarterly reports

-       The shared service now delivers a reduction in the cost of the team of around £70,000.

-       The number of audit days the shared service provides cannot be reduced anymore; they are already at the lower end of the scale when compared to other local authorities in Kent


  • GBC have identified about £700,000 of benefit overpayments so far in 2015-16 which will be reflected in the annual report


Members approved the Audit & Counter Fraud Plan for Gravesham for 2016-17 presented at Appendix two.


Audit & Counter Fraud Quality Assurance & Improvement pdf icon PDF 73 KB

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The Audit & Counter Fraud Manager (Shared Services) informed the Committee that GBC are required to have a Quality Assurance & Improvements Programme which is presented on an annual basis and there will be an external assessment of it in 2017. 


Responding to a Members question the Director (Corporate Services) assured the Committee that both Gravesham and Medway’s Committees would receive performance management information for both councils to enable them to properly evaluate the performance of the shared service as a whole.  


Members approved the Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Service Quality & Assurance Improvement Programme 2016-17. 



2014-15 Certification Report pdf icon PDF 65 KB

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The External Auditor (Grant Thornton) presented to the Committee the progress to date on the work of external audit as agreed in the 2015-16 audit fee letter.


The External Auditor (Grant Thornton) advised Members that the overall fee for the 2015-16 year is currently anticipated to be the planned fee in the Audit Fee letter for 2015-16.


Members noted the progress to date against the Audit Fee letter. 



External Audit Progress Report pdf icon PDF 65 KB

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The External Auditor (Grant Thornton) advised Members that the report sets out emerging issues on page 92-99 of the report including local government and audit issues. GBC officers attended an external Grant Thornton workshop to help cover the issues laid out in the report:


·                 Reforging local government

·                 CFO Insights – driving performance improvement

·                 Website –re-launch

·                 CIPFA Reports and Publications

·                 Accounts – public rights of inspection and challenge

·                 IFRS 13 ‘Fair value measurement’

·                 Highways Network Assets

·                 Unlodged non-domestic rate appeals


The Chair asked about the progress of the Audit Panels.


The Assistant Director (Corporate Services) advised that a report would be coming to the next F&A Committee for a further update but so far the three options of appointing are available:


  • Appointed directly, with the need to convene an independent audit panel
  • Appoint jointly, with the need to convene an independent audit panel
  • Appoint using a sector led approach – The LGA has been set as the independent organization which would work to appoint the auditors

-       There is a non-binding deadline of the 1st April 2016 to express an interest to the LGA in using this appointment type

-       The June paper is set to outline the pros and cons of using the sector led approach


It was commented by a Member that the sector led approach is cheaper and advised that the LGA should be made aware that GBC are interested at least to meet the deadline.  


The Director (Corporate Services) explained the sector led approach was discussed at the last Kent Finance Officers meeting and they advocated it.


The Committee agreed that the Council should express a non-binding interest in the sector led approach being offered by the LGA and looked forward to the report at the June Committee further explaining the details of it.


Members noted the information given in the report.