[To receive the draft Statement of Accounts for 2017-2018, which is subject to audit and which has been approved by the Director of Finance]
Claire Nye, Director of Finance presented the Council’s approved draft Statement of Accounts for 2017-2018, which were subject to audit. The final accounts would be submitted to the meeting on 23 July, subject to any changes from the external audit. For the information of the Committee, particularly the new members, the Director of Finance gave an overview on the following suggested key areas of focus within the draft accounts:
- The accounts for the previous year including group accounts i.e. Wolverhampton Homes.
- The General Fund and Housing Revenue Account.
- The balance sheet showing the assets, liabilities, reserves and supporting notes.
- Used and unused reserves.
- The movement in reserves statement.
- Provisions, contingent liabilities and guarantees.
Councillor Philip Bateman MBE asked for more information on the £30.7 million underspend against the capital programme during 2017 – 2018. He commented that the underspend was a large proportion of the programme to not have been achieved. The money could have had a whole range of implications for the city. He also asked whether there was any penalty with the underspend and where the underspend compared with the position over the last five years.
The Director of Finance reported that slippage sometimes occurred on projects but in general financial terms the Council had not lost any grants as a result of the underspend. A report on the Council’s capital programme with a detailed breakdown by projects would be submitted to Cabinet in July 2018.The capital programme report would need to monitor the impacts of the delay of completing capital projects. It was important that the Council spent its capital resources for the reasons intended in order to deliver the outcomes. It was also important that expenditure on capital projects was correctly phased. A Project Assurance Group had been established and a Capital Projects Member Reference Group had also been established to look at major capital projects. The Director of Finance undertook to present to the 23 July meeting the Cabinet report on capital programme monitoring as well as details of the outturn of the Council’s capital programme over the last five years.
Mike Ager, Independent Member noted that the remuneration declaration for senior officers showed that several changes had been made to the Council’s senior management structure during the year. He suggested that this was a potential risk. The Director of Finance confirmed that a lot of change had taken place which had been managed. Some were minor changes to job titles and roles and others were high level reorganisation.
In response to a question from Councillor Jasbir Jaspal regarding plans for the old College site, the Director of Finance reported that the Council was working on the business case for the City Learning Quarter. Once this was established and agreed the plans for the old College site would become clear.
The Chair asked whether the Council would meet the earlier deadline of July 2018 for the completion of the external audit of the Statement of Accounts and what were the big financial challenges facing the Council over the next 12 months. The Director of Finance reported that from her perspective she was comfortable that the Council would meet the July deadline. Grant Thornton added that they shared the Director’s confidence that the audit would be completed on time. On the question of the big financial challenges facing the Council, the Director of Finance reported that adult social care continued to be a pressure. A paper from Central Government on funding of social care was currently awaited. The £19 million savings target for 2018-2019 was also a financial challenge which the Council faced and plans were being developed to achieve the target.
1. That it be noted that the Director of Finance approved the Draft Statement of Accounts 2017-2018 on 31 May 2018, in accordance with the 31 May 2018 deadline set by the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015.
2. That it be noted that the 2017-2018 Draft Statement of Accounts is to be audited by Grant Thornton UK LLP from 11 June through to 9 July, and that any material changes required as a result of the audit would be reported to the Audit and Risk Committee on 23 July 2018.
3. That it be noted that formal approval by the Council and publication of the 2017-18 Statement of Accounts is required by 31 July 2018 (Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015).
4. That it be noted that the Statement of Accounts incorporates a copy of the Annual Governance Statement as required by the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015.