LE007 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter - Final
16 pages
English

LE007 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter - Final

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2004 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter Leicestershire County Council INSIDE THIS LETTER PAGES 2 - 12 • Executive summary • Key messages • Council performance • Accounts and governance • Other work • Looking forward • Closing remarks PAGES 13 - 16 Appendices • Appendix 1 – Audit and inspection reports issued • Appendix 2 – Scope of audit and inspection • Ax 3 – Audit and inspection fee Reference: LE007 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter Date: January 2005 2004 ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER Financial position The council’s overall financial management Executive summary arrangements remain sound. Expenditure has remained within budget in 2003/04 and revenue The purpose of this letter balances have increased. There was significant slippage on the 2003/04 This is our audit and inspection ‘Annual Letter’ capital programme but arrangements are in for Members which incorporates the Annual place to improve delivery in future years. Audit Letter for 2003/04, and is presented by the council’s Relationship Manager and District Auditor. The letter summarises the conclusions and significant issues arising from our recent audit and inspections of the council. Council performance We have issued separate reports during the year The council has made good progress this year in having completed specific aspects of our taking forward partnership working; project programme. These reports ...

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2004    Annual Audit and Inspection Letter Leicestershire County Council
I N S I D E T H I S L E T T E R
P A G E S 2 - 1 2  Executive summary  Key messages  Council performance  Accounts and governance  Other work  Looking forward  Closing remarks
P A G E S 1 3 - 1 6 Appendices  Appendix 1 – Audit and inspection reports  issued  Appendix 2 – Scope of audit and inspection  Appendix 3 – Audit and inspection fee                     Reference: LE007 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter Date: January 2005  
   
2004  ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER   Financial position Executive summary Tarhrea ncoguenmceilnst so rveermaalli nfi snoaunncida. l Emxpaennadgietmree nht as u remained within budget in 2003/04 and revenue The purpose of this letter balances have increased. This is our audit and inspection ‘Annual Letter’ There was significant slippage on the 2003/04 for Members which incorporates the Annual capital programme but arrangements are in Audit Letter for 2003/04, and is presented by place to improve delivery in future years. the council’s Relationship Manager and District  Auditor. The letter summarises the conclusions  and significant issues arising from our recent audit and inspections of the council. Council performance We have issued separate reports during the year having completed specific aspects of our The council has made good progress this year in programme. These reports are listed at taking forward partnership working; project Appendix 1 for information. management and the development of e- vernment but Appendix 2 sets out the scope of audit and go our work foroucnd further inspection. oprpopcoertsusenist.i eOsu tro i nstsrpeencgtitohnesn  opf Suepdpuorrteisn ga nPde ople  Appendix 3 provides information about the fees (Fair-Uncertain) and Access to Services charged. (Fair-Promising) found that reasonable services are being provided but concluded that in relation  to the former, greater direction and prioritisation  was needed, and in relation to the latter, that Key messages fcuurstthoerm. er services needed to be developed Council performance CPA Scorecard The council has made improvements in its use of Leicestershire County Council has changed from resources and services continue to be strong being Good to Excellent (Exhibit 1).  across the board. It has greatly improved its overall ability as a council to deliver improvement and performance indicators show EXHIBIT 1 – CPA SCORECARD that improvements have been made within most Element Assessment services. This has resulted in the council becoming an ‘Excellent’ authority. This is a very Overall Excellent positive achievement. Current performance 4 out of 4 - Education 3 out of 4 Accounts and governance - Use of resources 4 out of 4 - Social care (children) 3 out of 4 Your overall corporate governance arrangements - Social care (adults) 3 out of 4 are sound and we gave unqualified opinions on - Environment 4 out of 4 your 2003/04 financial statements on 18 November 2004. - Libraries and leisure 3 out of 4  Capacity to improve 3 out of 4 (Note: 1=lowest, 4=highest)    Annual Audit and Inspection Letter 2004 Leicestershire County Council – Page 2 - 
2004  
The council has made improvements in its use of resources and services continue to be strong across the board. It has greatly improved its overall ability as a council to deliver improvement and performance indicators show that improvements have been made within most services. Education has maintained its overall performance but it is mixed across schools. The council’s commitment to inclusion is evidenced by its provision for minority groups and by improved attendance levels. Improvements have been made in social care to the educational attainment of looked after children and to the management of child protection, through good joint working with education. Roads are improving, from a low base, and recycling rates are now amongst the best. Overall public satisfaction with the council has decreased, in common with other authorities. The council has clarified its key priorities and strengthened performance management. A greater corporate cohesion, drive and community leadership have contributed strongly to the progress made. Based on current plans, the council is well placed to further improve the way it works and the services it provides to local people. Corporate assessment and achievement Corporate Assessment (CA) The inspection team found that the council has responded well to issues identified in the 2002 Corporate Assessment report and has significantly improved its corporate capacity to improve services for local people. The council has developed a clearer corporate vision with six corporate objectives, each with two or three priorities. In addition, the council’s community leadership is stronger. In the last two years, the council has developed its vision for the county and invested successfully in its community leadership role at local, county and sub-regional levels. The overall long-term vision for the area of Leicester and Leicestershire however remains unclear.   Annual Audit and Inspection Letter - 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
The council has also strengthened its capacity building and improved the corporate management of performance. The council is managing performance effectively and services are improving in consequence. The council focuses on maintaining the quality of services and outcomes for local people but the links between some plans and strategies are not always clear. The council has benefited from a single party administration and new leadership. It has developed more focused corporate priorities and provided a stronger lead which is also felt in the wider community. Service and financial planning have been integrated more effectively. Priorities have been informed by wide consultation but some residents remain unclear about these priorities and the public’s overall satisfaction with services has decreased. The council has capable senior management, members and staff. It has sustained improvement in key areas such as social services and improved in other areas such as recycling. The council’s successful partnership working has led to achievement in cross cutting issues such as delayed discharges. It has invested effectively in the key building blocks to enable it to make further service improvements. In particular it has made substantial financial commitment to support its medium-term corporate strategy and invested in improving key corporate functions such as human resources and risk management - areas of weakness previously. The council is clear on where it needs to improve in the future and the new draft of the community strategy has a clearer vision and sharper priorities. The council is embedding the relatively new performance management and human resource frameworks and the council’s key plans are in place and robust. Achievement The council has a history of delivering good quality services which it achieves at a relatively low cost. Achievements in service performance levels and improvement have been sustained over recent years. Service quality has historically been assessed as good. Between 2002/03 and 2003/04 some 63 per cent of performance indicators improved.
Leicestershire County Council – Page 3
2004  
The council is therefore improving services overall and from a high base. Moreover 71 per cent of the 135 targets set out in the 2003/04 Best Value Performance Plan were met or exceeded. Although most services are improving, some improvements are modest and on the whole improvements are more sustained than significant, for example in Education. Satisfaction levels have however dropped by 12 per cent in 2003/04. Overall public satisfaction with the council is 52 per cent which [after taking deprivation levels into account] is 5 per cent worse than would be expected. Accordingly people in Leicestershire are either not noticing or not acknowledging the improvements which the council has made. One of the council’s key objectives is to improve social care and support for vulnerable people. The council’s achievements in relation to this objective have been externally validated, particularly in relation to social services where the Commission for Social Care Inspection has assessed the council as a three-star authority -the highest categorisation. In relation to both Adult and Children’s services, the council is judged to be serving most people well with excellent prospects for improvement. The council has therefore sustained and built upon its already good performance. The council has worked hard to join up service delivery and there are good examples of successful joint working between education and social services: for instance, in relation to both looked after children and the management of child protection cases.
 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter - 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
Another key council objective is to achieve excellence in education. The council has sustained its overall Ofsted score but performance has been mixed. The percentage of 15 year olds achieving five or more GCSEs [A-C] increased from 53 to 55 per cent but scores at Key Stages 3 and 4 did not change much. There is variation in school performance but the County’s secondary schools continue to do well in relation to the level of value added. The LEA has delivered recognisable improvements in a number of areas including: issuing statements; improving attendance; provision for minority groups; admissions and post school participation. These improvements all demonstrate the council’s commitment to developing greater inclusion. Performance in the school improvement arena is mixed. The council has also sought to create a better transport system and rise to the challenge on waste. It has generally been successful in this. Although the condition of roads remains below average [the council considers that this view is based on an unreliable survey sample] they are now improving relative to others following successful investment in new systems and processes. In relation to transport, good progress has been made in meeting local and core targets and a high proportion of targets are on track to be achieved. Public satisfaction with public transport is also an improving area. There have been county-wide improvements in waste recycling and a joint waste strategy has been agreed. Performance against the key indicators is strongly improving. The council is now top quartile in terms of progress towards meeting the statutory recycling target and is improving the percentage of waste recycled or composted. In addition the council has made good progress in the way it uses recycled materials for road surfacing which has resulted in savings of £0.15 million. The council has also been successful in delivering cross-cutting initiatives. It is working effectively with the NHS within the LSP context and good relationships have been fostered with the strategic health authority (StHA). The director of social services has been on the StHA Board for some time. The delayed discharge procedure has been introduced successfully. Significant investment has been made in improving learning disability services. Leicestershire County Council – Page 4
2004  
Equality and diversity issues are also being managed more positively and successfully by the council. Examples of achievements include positive OFSTED comments on ethnic minority achievement and also by CSCI on the quality of social services publications and monitoring material and improving communication with service users with the ‘Language Line’   translation service. Conclusion The council has clearly made significant progress and this has been recognised in its achieving ‘Excellent’ status. A greater corporate cohesion, drive and leadership have contributed strongly to the progress made and whilst there remain areas which the council can improve, it is well placed to improve the way it works and the services it provides to local people. Other performance work Partnerships We carried out a two-part audit of the council’s approach to partnership working. The first part was a follow up of the partnership issues highlighted in the council’s initial corporate assessment report. From this work we concluded that the council has made good progress in developing a framework in which partnership working can flourish. Many actions have been taken to ensure that partnership working is promoted and supported, including development of a performance framework to assist in measuring the success of individual partnerships. The second part of our audit examined how the council had used its performance framework (on a pilot basis) to measure the success of the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP), Leicestershire Together. The performance framework model was well received by the board of the LSP and the resultant action plan was adopted on 21 June 2004. The board’s support for the outcomes of the assessment is indicated by its intention to hold a performance assessment workshop early in 2005.    Annual Audit and Inspection Letter - 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
A number of issues were highlighted by the pilot exercise; including:  the use of one principal model for assessing the performance of partnerships would enable other partnerships to get the maximum benefit by learning from assessments previously carried out - enabling results to be easily compared;  partnerships are willing to discuss difficult issues and the performance model used should include questions likely to result in greatest improvement;  the evaluation of responses to questionnaires should involve more than one method to highlight any sizeable minority opinion;  agreed actions should be monitored quarterly to allow timely corrective action if slippage occurs; and  adequate financial and administrative support is needed to assess performance and partners need to agree how this will be provided. The challenge for the council is to ensure that the momentum built up over the past year is sustained and that it continues to give active support to partnerships to improve their performance. Implementing Electronic Government – progress review The purpose of our audit was to  assess progress against the recommendations arising from our Implementing  Electronic Government review in 2003. We concluded that the council has made good progress and that all the original recommendations had been addressed to varying degrees. In particular the council has:  developed an Access strategy for customer contact and an ICT strategy for delivering its e-Government agenda;  made substantial progress in developing corporate information management security documentation and has also appointed an Information Security Manager;
Leicestershire County Council – Page 5
2004  
 improved its approach to measuring compliance with BVPI 157 [ a measure of the amount of services capable of being delivered electronically]; and  improved its approach to project management and strengthened its skills base in this area through recruitment and training. The nature of the e-Government agenda means that ongoing further action will be required, in particular:  formal benchmarking of service delivery and standards to measure the benefits provided by new projects;  conducting formal post-implementation reviews of completed projects;  adoption and publication of a formal communications plan; and  adoption and issuing to staff of an up-to-date IT security document with provisions for monitoring compliance. Project management follow-up We reviewed the council’s project management arrangements for the Access to Services initiative in 2002 and made a number of recommendations for improvement. The purpose of our 2003/04 audit was to review progress against the agreed action plan. Our overall conclusion is that the council has made good progress in implementing consistent project management standards and has put in place good foundations for developing and implementing programme management standards. In particular the council has:  introduced a tailored project management training programme and is developing a ‘knowledge bank’ of skilled staff to support and monitor projects;  recruited an experienced project manager for the Access to Services Programme; and  developed the project as a coherent work programme rather than a loose aggregation of separate projects. We made a number of further recommendations to assist the council in the development of its arrangements which have been discussed and agreed with officers.
 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter - 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
Other follow-up work To ensure the benefits of audit work are realised we select of sample of previous projects to follow up each year. As part of the 2002/04 Audit Plan we selected the following studies for follow up:  voluntary sector SLAs; and  development of the procurement strategy. We found that the council has made satisfactory progress against the recommendations made in our original reports. A procurement strategy has been produced and was formally approved in November 2003. A procurement sub-group directed the overall development of the strategy and an inter-departmental procurement project board has been established with officer and member champions. This has given procurement the high profile within the council which our original review suggested. The council has a good basis for improving overall corporate control over procurement and developing this area further if it can ensure successful implementation of the strategy. Further improvement of joint working with the voluntary sector is also dependent on good implementation of the procurement strategy. Other Audit Commission inspections Access to services The council commenced its programme on improving access to services in 2002/03, establishing a working group overseeing projects, under the heading of Better Access to Better Services Initiative (BABSI). The initiative has brought together a number of projects, initiated at both service and organisational level. The inspection of access to services in October 2004 covered not only BABSI and its projects, but also other initiatives aimed at improving access to specific services and the council as a whole. Access to services was assessed as fair with promising prospects for improvement.
Leicestershire County Council – Page 6
2004  
EXHIBIT 2
 The council provides good access to some of its services for some of its customers, for instance, via the website and some service shops. But there are still relatively few services available through the new model service shops and there is a lack of consistency and some poor performance in other areas - for example telephone contact. The council recognised the need to work on access to services in 2002 and created the BABSI programme to deliver this. There has been a successful focus on delivering the building blocks for better access to services. Considerable effort and resources have gone into the information management and e-government programmes within BABSI and these have put the council in a strong position to deliver improved access to services for local people through the use of the internet and various technical solutions supporting staff within the council. However the customer service aspects of the BABSI programme have been slower to reach fruition and there has been a lack of focus on identifying outcomes for local people. Although individual departments have picked up access issues in their areas, there are outstanding projects in the BABSI programme that could, when implemented, make a significant difference to the public in future. The council now has greater clarity about the capacity required for this work and has made appropriate arrangements for undertaking significant activities such as implementing the customer services charter and the development of the contact centre.    Annual Audit and Inspection Letter - 2004  
 
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
Other housing inspections Supporting People ‘Supporting People’ is the Government’s long-term policy to enable local authorities to plan, commission and provide support services which help vulnerable people live independently. The programme went live on 1 April 2003. The aim of the Supporting People programme is to establish an integrated policy and funding framework, delivered locally in response to identified local needs, to replace the current complex and uncoordinated arrangements for providing housing related support services for vulnerable people. Leicestershire County Council was one of the councils to be inspected within the early months of the Supporting People programme. The Council was assessed as providing a ‘fair’, one-star service that has uncertain prospects for improvement. EXHIBIT 3
 The inspection found a number of positive features in the way that the Supporting People programme has been implemented to date along with areas for further development. The council did not accept all the inspection’s findings but has worked positively to address a number of the areas for development.
Leicestershire County Council – Page 7
 
2004  ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  Working with other inspectorates  and regulators Accounts and governance RAenl iatmiopnosrthaipn t Maasnpaegcte roif st thoe  rwoolrek  owf itthhe  other Your overall corporate governance arrangements inspectorates and regulators who also review are sound. and rforma We gave unqualified opinions on your 2003/04 Thesree ipnocrltu odne :t he councils pence.  financial statements and the pension fund accounts on 18 November 2004.  Ofsted;  Commission for Social Care Inspection Corporate governance (CSCI);  DfES and Your overall corporate governance arrangements ; are sound.  Local Government Office contact. In 2004 we updated our ‘auditor scored We share information and seek to provide judgements’ to feed into the update of your ‘joined up’ regulation to the council. With the Comprehensive Performance Assessment. exception of annual performance reviews The council achieved top scores for 11 out of 18 already referred to in the CPA scorecard, no criteria (Exhibit 2). inspection reports have been published in the last year. EXHIBIT 4 Heading CPA criteria Score Best Value Performance Plan and 2004 overall audit score We have completed our audit of your 2004/05 Financial Timeliness 4 s Best Value Performance Plan and concluded that tatements Quality 4 it complies with all legal requirements. There 4 Supporting records 3 were some errors, omissions and reservations in respect of the performance information and Financial Balanced budget 4 targets in the plan, but these were within standing Capital programme 4 acceptable limits and we therefore issued our 4 Monitoring and reporting 4 formal opinion, which was unqualified, in Financial targets 4 November 2004. Financial reserves 3 Internal Monitoring 3 Performance information financial Internal Audit 4 control aTnhde  rceopuonrctiilnsg  aorfr apnergfeormmeantnsc feo irn tfhore mcaotllieocnt iaorne  3 Risk management 2 satisfactory. Financial Ethical framework 4 conduct Governance 3 We used a risk-based assessment of the etc u on 4 council’s performance indicators to focus our 4 Fraud and corr pti work in this area. Analytical review of all Treasury management 3  indicators and specific testing of the high and Legality Roles and responsibilities 4 medium risk indicators resulted in us placing 4 Consideration of legal 3 reservations on two indicators. transactions  New legislation 4  1 = inadequate 2 adequate overall but with some weaknesses = 3 = adequate 4 = good  Annual Audit and Inspection Letter - 2004 Leicestershire County Council – Page 8  
2004  
Audit of 2003/04 financial statements We gave unqualified opinions on your 2003/04 financial statements and the pension fund accounts on 18 November 2004. Matters arising from the final accounts audit The published accounts are an essential means by which the council reports its stewardship of the public funds at its disposal and its financial performance in the use of those resources. In last year’s Annual Audit and Inspection Letter we emphasised that timeliness in producing the accounts will become increasingly important over the next few years as the deadline for completion of the accounts is brought forward in line with the Government’s requirement. To help improve the efficiency and timeliness of the preparation and audit of the accounts we held a workshop for officers in March 2004. The workshop provided an opportunity for officers to discuss common issues arising from last year’s audits and changes in accounting and audit requirements. We also agreed formal joint working arrangements specifying working paper requirements, reporting arrangements and the timing of our work. The accounts were prepared to meet the agreed deadlines this year and all issues arising from our audit have been discussed and agreed with officers. We gave an unqualified opinion on 18 November 2004  and have summarised the matters arising from our work in a report to officers. Report to those with responsibility for governance in the council We are required by professional standards to report to those charged with governance certain matters before we give an opinion on the financial statements. There were no issues arising from our audit requiring such a report.
 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter - 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
Financial standing The council’s overall financial management arrangements remain sound. The 2003/04 budget under-spend has allowed earmarked and ‘free’ balances to increase and a further underspend is predicted on the 2004/05 budget. There was significant slippage on the 2003/04 capital programme but arrangements are in place to improve delivery in future years. Major increases in pension fund contributions are expected in 2005/06. Overall arrangements We reviewed the council’s overall arrangements for ensuring that its finances are soundly based. We reviewed the budget setting and budgetary control procedures as part of our 2003/04 accounts work and overall management arrangements remain sound. General fund spending and balances The council under-spent by £2.3 million in 2003/04 compared with the updated budget of £500.3 million. This underspend, together with transfers from reserves, resulted in an uncommitted ‘free’ County Fund balance of £7.3 million at 31 March 2004. At this level uncommitted balances represent 1.4 per cent of the net cost of services which is higher than the previous two years. The earmarked balances continue to rise and stood at £20.2 million at 31 March 2004, representing 4 per cent of the net cost of services. Current performance The 2004/05 budget was agreed by the council in February 2004 and was based on the priorities set in the Medium-Term Corporate Strategy. After taking account of government grants, new growth, savings and inflation the 2004/05 Council Tax was increased by 6.4 per cent. The Resources Scrutiny Committee has received three monitoring reports to date on the 2004/05 budget, the latest of which predicted a £4 million underspend.
Leicestershire County Council – Page 9
2004  
Capital programme The original approved capital budget for 2003/04 was £54. 8 million. This was subsequently reviewed in November 2003 and forecast expenditure was revised to £47.9 million. Actual expenditure at 31 March 2004 was £40.8 m illion, approximately 26 per cent lower than the original budget and 15 per cent lower than the level anticipated at the November 2003 review. Delivery of the capital programme has been recognised by the council as an area for improvement. Project appraisal forms are being introduced and the overall process for compiling the capital programme is being reviewed to provide longer lead in times and further develop medium-term financial planning. Members should continue to monitor delivery of the capital programme to ensure that the review results in the necessary improvements. Prudential code of borrowing The prudential code was implemented in April 2004 and aims to provide a framework for local government capital finance to ensure that:  capital expenditure plans are affordable;  all external borrowing and other long-term loans are within prudent and sustainable levels; and  treasury management decisions are taken in accordance with professional good practice. The code is designed to improve transparency of decision making and to allocate responsibility and accountability. The council addressed the requirements of the code as part of the 2004/05 budget setting process, including the setting of appropriate borrowing limits and prudential indicators. Further work is required to embed the regime into the capital planning process, so that issues of affordability, capacity and priorities are fully considered. These issues are currently being considered by officers as part of the review of the capital programme.      Annual Audit and Inspection Letter - 2004   
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
Pension fund deficit Leicestershire’s share of the pension fund deficit was valued as £112.6 m illion at 31 March 2004. A full actuarial valuation of the pension fund has recently been undertaken and the results are being considered as part of the 2005/06 budget process. A major phased increase in employers contributions will be necessary. Systems of internal financial control Our 2003/04 audit did not identify any significant weaknesses or inconsistencies with your internal controls statement. Internal audit continues to provide an effective service and meets all of the required CIPFA standards. Overall arrangements The council was required to include a statement on its systems of internal control in its 2003/04 statement of accounts. The statement sets out the framework within which internal controls are managed and reviewed and the main components of the system. As external auditors we are required to identify any inconsistencies between the disclosures in the statement and information arising from our audit work. During 2003 we conducted an overall review of the financial aspects of your corporate governance arrangements and did not identify any inconsistencies with the internal controls statement. Good progress has been made to develop risk management but further work is required to establish comprehensive risk registers and fully embed processes in routine management arrangements. Internal Audit We updated our overall assessment and concluded that Internal Audit continues to provide an effective service and meets all of the required CIPFA standards.
Leicestershire County Council – Page 10
2004  
Standards of financial conduct and the prevention and detection of fraud and corruption  We have not identified any significant weaknesses in your arrangements to prevent and detect fraud and corruption. Overall arrangements We updated our annual assessment of the council’s overall arrangements to maintain standards of conduct and prevent and detect fraud and corruption. The results of our work were reported in last year’s annual letter and we did not identify any significant weaknesses in your arrangements. National Fraud Initiative The Council took part in the Audit Commission’s National Fraud Initiative (NFI) 2002/03. The NFI, which is undertaken every two years, brings together data from local authorities, NHS bodies, government departments and other agencies, to detect a wide range of frauds against the public sector. Total savings from the 2002/03 exercise exceeded £83 million. The Commission is repeating the exercise this year and will again collect payroll, pensions, housing benefits, student loan and housing rents data from Authorities. Alongside the core exercise a number of pilot initiatives are being undertaken at selected sites. These are focused on risk areas that were highlighted by Authorities and include payments made to privately run care homes, abuse of blue badge parking permits, serial insurance claimants and duplicate payments to suppliers. These pilot areas, if they prove effective, will be incorporated into future NFI exercises. Legality of transactions We have not identified any significant weaknesses in the council’s framework for ensuring the legality of its significant financial transactions.
 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter - 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
Overall arrangements We reviewed the council’s overall arrangements for ensuring the legality of transactions with a financial consequence during our 2003/04 interim audit work. As reported in last year’s  annual letter, we found no significant weaknesses.   Other work Grant claims Over recent years the number of claims requiring audit certification has grown and audit fees have accordingly risen. In accordance with Strategic Regulation, the Audit Commission has adopted a more risk-based approach to the certification of grant claims. With effect from 2003/04 smaller claims have not been subject to audit or have received a lighter touch. The approach to larger claims has been determined by risk and the adequacy of the council’s control environment. Our work on your 2003/04 grant claims was completed by the end of December 2004. Any claims with deadlines after December are being dealt with by your new auditors. A report summarising the matters arising from our audit work will be issued in January 2005.  Looking forward Revision to the Code of Audit Practice The Audit Commission has consulted on a revised Code of Audit Practice for application to the audit of the 2005/06 accounts. The new Code, which will be laid before Parliament in January 2005, is designed to secure:  a more streamlined audit, which is proportionate to risk and targeted on areas where auditors have most to contribute to improvement;
Leicestershire County Council – Page 11
 
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