Assurance Lincolnshire awarded the highest assurance opinion following an internal audit into the review of the effectiveness and efficiency of the controls in place.
The news has been welcomed by the Council, as the audit was carried out at a time when the Council had introduced alternative working arrangements as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
At the beginning of April 2020, the Council received significant amounts of funding from the Government to be passed on as Covid 19 related Business Grants. As a result, a large amount of cash had to remain in liquid investments.
Action was taken in advance by the Treasury Management Team via delegated decision to increase the Council bank account limits and short term investments limits to maintain liquidity.
In a report to Councillors, auditors acknowledged that staff have been working from home throughout the pandemic and have continued their working practices to ensure controls in place remain appropriate and transactions are suitably authorised and follow the Council’s Treasury Management procedures.
They added: ‘Through discussion and testing we did not identify any areas of concern.’
Treasury management is the management of the council’s cash flows, its banking, money market and capital market transactions; the effective control of the risks associated with those activities and the pursuit of optimum performance consistent with those risks.
Cllr John McNeill, Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee at the Council has welcomed the news.
He said: “It has been an extremely challenging year for a lot of people as the pandemic has impacted both the professional and personal lives of our communities, businesses and our colleagues.
“This audit outcome demonstrates that the Council has robust procedures in place and that we continue to achieve our objectives at a high standard at a time when it is needed by so many.
“Not only has the Council received and paid out significant amounts of money as part of our Covid-19 response, but we have done so despite a change to officers working conditions and this outcome is down to their hard work and I would like to take the opportunity to thank them.”
“We know our work is not over as the Country is still in its third lockdown and the need to ensure business and community grants receive the money they need continues to remain a priority focus for the Council.”
During the review the audit confirmed the following:
• The current Treasury Management Strategy was approved in line with the constitution at Full Council
• Borrowing and investments follow both the prudential and treasury indicators detailed in the Budget Book and operational guidance in the Treasury Management Procedures
• Treasury Management procedures and indicators such as counterparty lists, bank account limits and investment limits are embedded within the daily authorisation process
• Independent authorisation of daily Treasury Management requirements and Money Market investment is in place
• Monthly benchmarking is in place that provides oversight to the Treasury Manager on how the Council is performing against 10 other Local Authorities
• Records enable performance reporting such as investment earnings rates as part of the in-year and end of year Treasury Management Report to Governance and Audit Committee and Full Council. This is in line with the constitution.
The Treasury Management Strategy can be found here