Herefordshire Council audit and governance committee met on Monday 4 July. At the meeting, confusion over the role of internal and external auditors was raised and it was requested Herefordshire Council clarify those roles.
Herefordshire Council has an appointed external auditor, Grant Thornton. We also, in common with other councils and as required by law, maintain an internal audit function provided by the South West Audit Partnership (SWAP). Internal audit provides independent assurance to the council that its risk management, governance and internal control processes are operating effectively. Internal audit functions act independently from the operations that they evaluate, and provide a report on their outcomes and findings to the relevant senior manager and a summary of their key findings to the Audit and Governance Committee. They have a professional duty to provide an unbiased and objective view. Both Grant Thornton and SWAP attended Monday’s committee meeting.
On the matter of the specific query on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) figures: In April, the council’s Finance and Resource Director issued a letter to councillors informing them of an error in reporting which combined the previous year’s spend with the forecast spend on the city link road. This stated “Our internal auditors have been asked to independently verify the expenditure to 31.03.15 and I will bring the matter to the attention of the external auditors for their information.”
Herefordshire Council subsequently asked SWAP to carry out an advisory review of the accuracy of spend figures relating to the link road project. The outcome of that review was published on the council’s website and was reported to the council’s audit and governance committee on Monday.