Agenda item

External Audit opinion for the financial year 2019-20


ARAC (03-20) Paper 4 ISA 260 Report 

4.1     Gareth Lucey presented the ISA 260 report to the Committee, confirming their intention to issue an unqualified audit opinion on this year’s accounts. He added that this had been a very clean audit with no misstatements identified or significant corrections to bring to the attention of the Committee. They had only identified minor presentational amendments to disclosures within the Annual Report and Accounts in relation to the valuation of assets which had been taken on board. 

4.2     Gareth explained that the table of Covid-19 impacts included in the Audit of Accounts (ISA 260) Report was a standard item for all audits. There was no significant impact on the accounts, although the report highlighted a comment by the property valuer indicating material uncertainty around the asset values of the Senedd buildings. To ensure transparency (and consistency with other public sector bodies facing similar issues) the Commission has included the valuer’s comments below Note 4 of the financial statements. Gareth explained that Audit Wales have also included an emphasis of matter paragraph within the Assistant Auditor General’s audit certificate to draw attention to this. However, the 2019-20 audit opinion is unaffected by this matter.

4.3     The audit certificate for 2019-20 also included a new disclaimer around assurance over ‘other information’ in the Annual Report. Gareth clarified that other information comprises the information included in the annual report other than the financial statements. The disclaimer states that the audit opinion on the financial statements does not cover the other information. However, Gareth did confirm that the Audit Wales team had reviewed the Remuneration Report as part of its work and was satisfied that the other information in the Annual Report was consistent with the financial statements.

4.4     The Audit Wales team thanked the Senedd Commission Finance team for their hard work in ensuring such a clean audit and smooth and straightforward audit process. They also noted that, because they were able to adapt some processes, there had been no significant negative impact as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

4.5     Nia Morgan also wished to record her thanks to her team for the incredible effort and additional hours they had worked to ensure the audit work was completed to the original timescales. She also thanked the Audit Wales team, acknowledging how hard both teams had worked to carry out such a thorough audit. 

4.6     Committee members were impressed by how efficiently the audit work had been carried out, particularly given the Covid-19 situation. They asked how lesson learned from this experience, particularly in relation to the challenges and opportunities presented by working remotely would be captured and built into the approach for future audits.

4.7     Ann-Marie Harkin explained that Audit Wales would be liaising with other audit bodies as part of their internal learning mechanisms and this would include consideration of how best practice could be shared more widely across both public and private sector auditors. This would also include discussions with Nia and her team in terms of specifics on the approach to future auditing of the Senedd accounts. The Chair, Committee members and both Ann-Marie and Gareth agreed that the ability to carry out the audit work remotely was testament to the flexibility afforded by the robust systems in place at the Senedd Commission.

4.8     In relation to the request for last minute changes to the presentation of disclosures in the accounts around asset valuations and changes to the Audit Certificate, Nia noted that, in future, it would be helpful to be informed of these earlier in the process.