Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD. View directions
Contact: Mary Green 020 7527 3005
Apologies for absence
Declaration of substitute members
Declarations of interest
If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest* in an item of business:
§ if it is not yet on the council’s register, you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent;
§ you may choose to declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that is already in the register in the interests of openness and transparency.
In both the above cases, you must leave the room without participating in discussion of the item.
If you have a personal interest in an item of business and you intend to speak or vote on the item you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent but you may participate in the discussion and vote on the item.
*(a) Employment, etc - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.
(b) Sponsorship - Any payment or other financial benefit in respect of your expenses in carrying out duties as a member, or of your election; including from a trade union.
(c) Contracts - Any current contract for goods, services or works, between you or your partner (or a body in which one of you has a beneficial interest) and the council.
(d) Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the council’s area.
(e) Licences- Any licence to occupy land in the council’s area for a month or longer.
(f) Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy between the council and a body in which you or your partner have a beneficial interest.
(g) Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body which has a place of business or land in the council’s area, if the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body or of any one class of its issued share capital.
This applies to all members present at the meeting.
The Service Director Finance gave a powerpoint presentation to the Committee on the major changes and highlights to the accounts this year. Members asked a number of questions on the presentation slides which officers responded to.
The following points were noted:
· The Pensions Sub-Committee dealt with investments and the Pensions Board approved the Pension Fund accounts
· The £90m deficit for the year in the Collection Fund was not mentioned in the “Debtors” slide, which indicated £220m total worth of debtors in 2020/21. The Service Director Finance stated that bad debt provision was fairly high and that many of these were aged debts which were not recoverable and which the Council would not actively be chasing.
· The deficit of £90.8m on the Collection Fund was noted. The deficit of £75.8m being carried forward would be monitored over three years.
· Covid cost the Council about £0.8m above Government grants. Overall this year, the Council was managing within Covid funding, bar another lockdown.
Representatives from Grant Thornton, the Council’s external auditors, gave a verbal presentation to the Committee on their “Audit Findings for Islington Council and Islington Council Pension Fund”, attached to the report of the Corporate Director of Resources, and responded to questions from members.
The following points
· The auditors proposed giving an unmodified audit report.
· It was not expected that any of the issues in the Auditor’s report which indicated that a response was awaited from management were likely to affect the decisions to be made by this Audit Committee
· There were a number of inaccuracies/omission of brackets throughout the report. Each note needed to be precise eg. Page 89 of the report referred to “appeals against property valuations by business rate payers. The outcome of these appeals, and the timing of any future payments, is determined by the Valuations Office”, whereas appeals were made to the “Valuation Service”
· The Auditors’ report had made reference to Islington’s Finance Team being “lean” and a question was asked as to whether this implied that it was under resourced? A response was given that the level of work needed in responding to an audit report was increasing.
· The Chair of the Pensions Sub-Committee had been advised that the Pension Fund accounts were to be considered at this meeting. The Chairs of the Pensions and Personnel Sub-Committees had been invited to report to Audit Committee in January 2022 on their activities.
· The Thames Water Rates provision had been included to cover a risk that the Council could be required to make refunds to tenants. However, the Council intended to continue defending any claims brought against it
· The Council was required to make provision for business rates appeals against property valuations by business rate payers. It was noted that business rates would be paid until the appeal was heard.
The Corporate Director Resources stated that the Service Director Finance would be revising the staffing structure in his Team, including the recruitment of new staff, which would hopefully ... view the full minutes text for item 258.