Report of the City Treasurer
4.1 The Committee considered the draft Annual Statement of Accounts for the 2017/18 financial year in accordance with the requirements of the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015.
4.2 Steve Mair, City Treasurer, provided the Committee with a detailed commentary of the key sections of the financial statements. The Committee noted the information and asked a number of questions on the contents. Members reiterated its previous concerns regarding the underspend in the Council’s capital programme against budget as well as the capital variances in the HRA against budget. The City Treasurer advised that these issues were being addressed through new processes for overseeing the capital programme. Members noted that £10m of the net variance in the operational designation in the capital programme related to the use of capital receipts to reduce the pension fund deficit. Members suggested that it would be helpful to classify this differently for clarity. The City Treasurer undertook to look at how this information could be displayed in future years.
4.3 The City Treasurer informed members that the statutory public inspection period for the accounts will take place between 2 May and 14th of June 2018. The accounts will be presented for formal sign off at a meeting of the committee on or shortly after 15 June 2018.
4.4 The Committee noted that the accounts were closed immediately after the year-end and the draft financial statements were sent to the auditors in advance of their audit visit on 3 April 2018. The Council welcomed the news that it has maintained its position as not only the first local authority in the UK to produce its accounts but also completing the closedown and audit process more promptly than any other major organisation, private, public or voluntary in the country.
4.5 The City Treasurer informed the committee that the setting of such a challenging timeframe not only sets the Council apart from all other organisations but also allows financial management resources to be quickly focussed on supporting services in concentrating on the future rather than the past. A significant service transformational benefit also accrues through the setting of aspirational closure timeframes as it enforces fundamental review of process and procedures, and drives best practice.
4.6 The draft Accounts included the Council’s 2017/18 Annual Governance Statement (AGS). This statutory document provided an overview of the City Council’s governance arrangements and reflected the issues identified by Internal Audit during 2017/18 as well as significant issues that have been identified for 2018/19 and the planned action to address them. The report also provided Members with an update on the progress made implementing recommendations following the identification of three key areas for improvement in last year’s Annual Governance Report.
4.7 RESOLVED: That the 2017/18 Draft Annual Accounts be noted.
1. The committee would like a report to be submitted to a future meeting on the HRA capital programme underspend.
(Action for: Steve Mair, City Treasurer/Barbara Brownlee, Executive Director for Growth Planning and Housing)