Date: 16 November 2023

Time: 14:00

Venue: MS Teams


  •  Judith Paterson (Interim Co-Chair)
  • Dr Mark Simpson (Interim Co-Chair)

In attendance—

  • Lisa Duthie, Senior Audit Manager, Audit Scotland;
  • Marie McFadden, Senior Auditor, Audit Scotland;
  • Ian Davidson, Head of Social Security Policy and the Accountable Officer for SCoSS (In attendance for Agenda Items 1-6);
  • Julie McKinney, Head of Social Security Strategy, Welfare Fund and Winter Benefits;
  • Elizabeth Hurst-High, Social Security Strategy Lead (In attendance for Agenda Items 1-6);
  • Stephen Pendrich, Finance Team Leader;
  • Lorna Fawcett, Accountant;
  • Graeme Hill, Audit Adviser, SCoSS
  • Stephen Herbert, Secretary, SCoSS;
  • Dorothy Warren, Governance and Engagement Officer; SCoSS;
  • Lisa Kinnear, SCoSS Administrative Assistant, SCoSS;

Interim Co-Chair, Judith Paterson, welcomed the attendees to the meeting.  There were no apologies.

No interests were declared.

The Minutes of the September 2023 meeting of the Audit Sub-Committee were approved.

Lisa Duthie (Audit Scotland) spoke to the content of the covering letter.  In particular, Ms Duthie noted that the accounts were unqualified and there were no unadjusted mis-statements.

The Audit Sub-Committee noted the content of the ISA 580 Covering letter.

Marie McFadden (Audit Scotland) spoke to the content of the Annual Audit Report (2022-23).  Ms McFadden noted that the Scottish Government Sponsor Unit had given written approval confirming that it would not be appropriate or proportionate to include a Fair Pay Disclosure.  It was also noted that the report contained a Parliamentary Accountability Report for the first time.  Ms McFadden stated that detailed financial testing had been undertaken by the Audit team and no errors in the accounts had been found.

In terms of the wider scope of the audit, it was noted that the report found that governance arrangements were appropriate.  Ms McFadden also highlighted that the report contained one recommendation regarding continued close working between the SCoSS Secretariat and SG Finance on financial monitoring.  It was further noted that all the recommendations from the previous year’s audit report had now been completed.

The Audit Sub-Committee, and the Accountable Officer, agreed to the recommendation and management response contained in the report and noted the content of the report more generally.

The Audit Adviser spoke to the content of the Annual Report and Accounts.  In particular, Mr Hill noted that the performance report had been significantly strengthened and that the governance arrangements underpinning the annual report and accounts had been considerably enhanced over the course of the year.

The Audit Adviser stated that he was content to recommend that the Audit Sub-Committee should recommend to the SCoSS Board that the draft Annual Report and Accounts be approved.  He also stated that he was content to recommend that the Accountable Officer sign the annual report and accounts.

The Accountable Officer stated that he was content to sign the draft annual report and accounts.

The Audit Sub-Committee agreed to recommend to the Board that the draft annual report and accounts be approved.

The Accountable Officer and Ms Hurst-High left the meeting upon conclusion of this agenda item.

The Audit Adviser noted that that the Risk Register remained unchanged from the September meeting which was submitted to the last Board meeting.  It was noted that there was a budget risk and that work was being undertaken by the Audit Adviser in relation to this risk and it was intended to hold an ad-hoc meeting of the Audit Sub-Committee to consider this risk later in November.  On that basis, the Audit Adviser stated that he considered that it was too early to amend the risk register at this point.

The Audit Sub-Committee agreed the Risk Register for consideration at the next meeting of the SCoSS Board.

The Audit Sub-Committee noted that there had been no losses or special payments since the previous meeting in September.

The Audit Advisor spoke to the Annual Audit Plan for 2024 which essentially proposed a similar approach to that undertaken in 2023.  Audit Scotland advised that they may bring forward the timetable for the 2023-24 audit and that this would be discussed with the Secretariat.

The Audit Sub-Committee agreed the Annual Audit Plan for 2024.

The Secretary to SCoSS noted that the Board had agreed to commission external research, relating to scrutiny of the operation of the Social Security Charter, and that whilst the research would be commissioned in 2023-24 that it was anticipated that expenditure would be incurred over two financial years.

The Audit Sub-Committee agreed that the next meeting dates for the Sub-Committee would be—

  • Wednesday 21st February, 2-4pm; and
  • Wednesday 12th June, 2-4pm.

The meeting closed at 15:01.

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