The JAC reviewed the 2021-22 draft unaudited Statement of Accounts on the 17th June and raised points intended to promote greater transparency and disclosure, particularly in the narrative. These included a suggestion that the Annual Governance Statement (AGS) be reduced in size so as to ensure greater public transparency and to make it easier to read. The 2021/22 accounts evidenced a slight underspend due in the main to one off non-recurring items including, but not limited to, the sale of Internet Protocol (“IP) addresses owned by the Force but no longer required.
The JAC is aware that the 2022-23 financial year is again expected to show an overspend in the revenue budget including Police pay increases and inflationary pressures with savings required to be made from a variety of sources. The JAC had once again drawn attention to the need for a mitigating strategy and action plan, including the reasonableness of a savings programme, all of which we have been assured are practicable and sustainable. The JAC has sought assurance of adequate challenge to financial forecasts at the various executive governance meetings, including those on police officer and staff pay. The JAC believes this has been achieved as the budgeting reports now form a standing agenda item on the Chief Officers Management Board meetings. The JAC has also identified the need for robust cash flow forecasting model to underpin any future decisions on borrowing. Following the appointment of a new Force CFO, the JAC has received assurances that these issues are being and continue to be addressed.
Whilst the previous year’s Financial Statements were agreed by the External Auditors without amendment or comment, the Audit Report contained critical narrative surrounding the actions of the previous Force CFO in relation to inaccurate internal reporting. Following the appointment of a new Force CFO and a new Chief Accountant, the JAC takes considerable assurance that new governance and control procedures have been implemented so as to considerably reduce the risk of reoccurrence of the past weaknesses in the control system.
The JAC reviewed and made recommendations on the annual Treasury Management strategy and has monitored performance during the year. A JAC member has a lead role for the JAC in this important area.