12 September 2023
Council's internal audit and investigation service passes review with flying colours
The service has received the highest possible compliance rating following an inspection in July
Wokingham Borough Council’s internal audit and investigation service has received the highest possible compliance rating following an inspection by a standards body.
A review was carried out by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) in July following a thorough review of the service against the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards and a series of interviews with the chair of the audit committee, as well as senior management. A survey was also sent to all managers audited during the last two financial years.
The internal audit and investigation service provides assurance that the council’s risk management, governance and internal control processes are operating effectively. Internal audits are also a defence mechanism in the prevention and detection of fraud and corruption against the council, thereby protecting public funds.
The service is delivered by an in-house team, which also provides work to external clients.
The Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS), which have been in place since 2013, are intended to promote improvement in the professionalism, quality, consistency and effectiveness of internal audit across the public sector.
A review of the council’s performance is carried out every five years and it was concluded that the authority ‘Fully Conforms’ to the requirements of the PSIAS and the CIPFA Standards.
From the evidence reviewed, no areas of non-compliance were identified and there were no significant areas of partial compliance, with no recommendations for improvement in the report.
Cllr Rachel Burgess, chair of the council’s audit committee, said: “Part of the audit committee’s role is to oversee and scrutinise internal audit arrangements which, in turn, helps the committee to provide assurance on the council’s governance and control framework. It is therefore reassuring to be told by independent inspectors that the council has a strong audit framework and is audited to a very high standard.
“This positive assessment, with no recommendations for improvement found, helps provide confidence to the council and residents over the quality of the service and those within the audit team. In addition, it demonstrates how the service contributes to the governance and internal control framework.
“It shows residents that the council takes governance seriously and strives for best practice in corporate governance arrangements. It is an excellent achievement by everyone involved in the service, and testament to their professionalism and hard work.”
The external assessor found service is effectively managed and the head of internal audit and investigation, as well as all of the senior auditors, to be experienced professionals.
The CIPFA report reads: “The results of the interviews with the key stakeholders were positive, with interviewees valuing the professionalism and quality of the services provided by Internal Audit and Investigations. A similar picture emerged from the survey, where the respondents valued the services provided.
“The service produces a comprehensive combined risk-based audit plan and strategy that is aligned to the council’s objectives and is designed to provide the council with relevant assurance on their governance, risk management and control frameworks.”