Independent auditor’s report to the Auditor General for Scotland and the Scottish Parliament
Reporting on the audit of the financial statements
Opinion on financial statements
I have audited the financial statements in the Scottish Consolidated Fund Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2023 under the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000. The financial statements comprise the Receipts and Payments Account, the Statement of Balances and Notes to the Accounts. The financial reporting framework that has been applied in their preparation is applicable law and the receipts and payments basis.
In my opinion the accompanying financial statements:
- properly present the receipts and payments of the fund for the year ended 31 March 2023 and the balances held at that date; and
- have been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000 and directions made thereunder by the Scottish Ministers.
Basis for opinion
I conducted my audit in accordance with applicable law and International Standards on Auditing (UK) (ISAs (UK)), as required by the Code of Audit Practice approved by the Auditor General for Scotland. My responsibilities under those standards are further described in the auditor’s responsibilities for the audit of the financial statements section of my report. I was appointed by the Auditor General on 16 May 2023. My period of appointment is five years, covering 2022/23 to 2026/27. I am independent of the fund in accordance with the ethical requirements that are relevant to my audit of the financial statements in the UK including the Financial Reporting Council’s Ethical Standard, and I have fulfilled my other ethical responsibilities in accordance with these requirements. Non-audit services prohibited by the Ethical Standard were not provided to the fund. I believe that the audit evidence I have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for my opinion.
Risks of material misstatement
I report in a separate Annual Audit Report, available from the Audit Scotland website, the most significant assessed risks of material misstatement that I identified and my judgements thereon.
Responsibilities of the Principal Accountable Officer for the financial statements
The Principal Accountable Officer is responsible for the preparation and proper presentation of financial statements in accordance with the financial reporting framework, and for such internal control as the Principal Accountable Officer determines is necessary to enable the preparation of financial statements that are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error.
Auditor’s responsibilities for the audit of the financial statements
My objectives are to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements as a whole are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error, and to issue an auditor’s report that includes my opinion. Reasonable assurance is a high level of assurance, but is not a guarantee that an audit conducted in accordance with ISAs (UK) will always detect a material misstatement when it exists. Misstatements can arise from fraud or error and are considered material if, individually or in the aggregate, they could reasonably be expected to influence the decisions of users taken on the basis of these financial statements.
Irregularities, including fraud, are instances of non-compliance with laws and regulations. I design procedures in line with my responsibilities outlined above to detect material misstatements in respect of irregularities, including fraud. Procedures include:
- using my understanding of the central government sector to identify that the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000 and directions made thereunder by the Scottish Ministers are significant in the context of the fund;
- inquiring of the Principal Accountable Officer as to other laws or regulations that may be expected to have a fundamental effect on the operations of the fund;
- inquiring of the Principal Accountable Officer concerning the fund’s policies and procedures regarding compliance with the applicable legal and regulatory framework;
- discussions among my audit team on the susceptibility of the financial statements to material misstatement, including how fraud might occur; and
- considering whether the audit team collectively has the appropriate competence and capabilities to identify or recognise non-compliance with laws and regulations.
The extent to which my procedures are capable of detecting irregularities, including fraud, is affected by the inherent difficulty in detecting irregularities, the effectiveness of the fund’s controls, and the nature, timing and extent of the audit procedures performed.
Irregularities that result from fraud are inherently more difficult to detect than irregularities that result from error as fraud may involve collusion, intentional omissions, misrepresentations, or the override of internal control. The capability of the audit to detect fraud and other irregularities depends on factors such as the skilfulness of the perpetrator, the frequency and extent of manipulation, the degree of collusion involved, the relative size of individual amounts manipulated, and the seniority of those individuals involved.
A further description of my responsibilities for the audit of the financial statements is located on the Financial Reporting Council's website www.frc.org.uk/auditorsresponsibilities. This description forms part of my auditor’s report.
Reporting on regularity of receipts and payments
Opinion on regularity
In my opinion in all material respects the sums paid out of the Scottish Consolidated Fund for the purpose of meeting the payments shown in the financial statements were applied in accordance with section 65 of the Scotland Act 1998 and sections 4 to 6 of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000.
Responsibilities for regularity
The Principal Accountable Officer is responsible for ensuring the regularity of receipts and payments. In addition to my responsibilities in respect of irregularities explained in the audit of the financial statements section of my report, I am responsible for expressing an opinion on the regularity of receipts and payments in accordance with the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000.
Reporting on other requirements
The Principal Accountable Officer is responsible for the other information in the Scottish Consolidated Fund Accounts. The other information comprises the Foreword, Statement of Principal Accountable Officer’s Responsibility and Governance Statement.
My responsibility is to read all the other information and, in doing so, consider whether the other information is materially inconsistent with the financial statements, or my knowledge obtained in the course of the audit or otherwise appears to be materially misstated. If I identify such material inconsistencies or apparent material misstatements, I am required to determine whether this gives rise to a material misstatement in the financial statements themselves. If, based on the work I have performed, I conclude that there is a material misstatement of this other information, I am required to report that fact. I have nothing to report in this regard.
My opinion on the financial statements does not cover the other information and I do not express any form of assurance conclusion thereon except on the Foreword and Governance Statement to the extent explicitly stated in the following opinions prescribed by the Auditor General for Scotland.
Opinions prescribed by the Auditor General for Scotland on Foreword and Governance Statement
In my opinion, based on the work undertaken in the course of the audit:
- the information given in the Foreword for the financial year for which the financial statements are prepared is consistent with the financial statements; and
- the information given in the Governance Statement for the financial year for which the financial statements are prepared is consistent with the financial statements and that report has been prepared in accordance with the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000 and directions made thereunder by the Scottish Ministers.
Matters on which I am required to report by exception
I am required by the Auditor General for Scotland to report to you if, in my opinion:
- adequate accounting records have not been kept; or
- the financial statements are not in agreement with the accounting records; or
- I have not received all the information and explanations I require for my audit.
I have nothing to report in respect of these matters.
Conclusions on wider scope responsibilities
In addition to my responsibilities for the Scottish Consolidated Fund Accounts, my conclusions on the wider scope responsibilities specified in the Code of Audit Practice are set out in my Annual Audit Report.
Use of my report
This report is made solely to the parties to whom it is addressed in accordance with the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000 and for no other purpose. In accordance with paragraph 108 of the Code of Audit Practice, I do not undertake to have responsibilities to members or officers, in their individual capacities, or to third parties.Carole Grant, CPFA
4th Floor, South Suite
The Athenaeum Building
8 Nelson Mandela Place
06 November 2023
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