Agenda item

Bridge House Estates Annual Report and Financial Statements 2017/18

Report of the Chamberlain.


Members considered a report of The Chamberlain regarding Bridge House Estates (BHE) Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2017/18, requesting approval of the report. The report was presented to the Committee behind the planned schedule due to the requirement to reconstitute the endowment fund within these accounts. The external auditors, Moore Stephens LLP, were in attendance.


The report stated the following key points:

·         The funds of the charity have been split between the permanent endowment fund (£831.6m) and unrestricted income funds (£564.2m) with total funds (net assets) held being £1,395.8m – an increase of £54.6m or 4.1% on the previous year;

·         The net surplus for the year of £54.6m included gains on financial investments of £10.8m and on property investments of £53.6m;

·         Subsequent to the year-end, the charity has sold one of the properties held within its investment portfolio (part of the endowment fund) for £97.1m

The Chamberlain advised that the Charity Commission become concerned when charities grow reserves significantly rather than spending funds on their charitable activities. The first priority of BHE is to ensure that the five Thames bridges are properly assessed and maintained. Further consideration is currently taking place as to the extent that reserves held can be released for additional charitable funding.


The Town Clerk advised that a report was sent to Members to update on the governance review of the BHE charity. Elements of this will be discussed with the Privy Council Office and Charity Commission to determine whether the provisions of its governing documents remain fit for purpose and/or whether they would benefit from additions or amendments to enable trustees to fulfil the charity’s objectives more effectively. The Chairman asked whether it was reasonable to target having an agreed outcome in time for the next Court of Common Council to be elected in March 2021. The Town Clerk advised that while this was a sensible objective, the availability of the outcome is dependent on the Privy Council Office and Charity Commission.


A Member expressed concern that the Audit Review Panel was elected by the Livery of London in Common Hall, questioning whether this demonstrates best practice. The Chamberlain advised that this is the practice based on George II legislation and noted that this would require primary legislation to amend. 


The Chamberlain noted that a review of the process had been carried out some years ago and had introduced criteria to ensure the suitability of the auditors on the Audit Review Panel to carry out the audit of all Corporation funds. It was thought that the report would give the member assurance regarding the process and would be provided.


The Chairman thanked Moore Stephens LLP for their work over the years and attendance at the meeting.


RESOLVED – That the Audit & Risk Management Committee:

1.    accept the contents of the Audit Management Report issued by Moore Stephens LLP; and

2.    recommend approval of the BHE Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 31 March 2018 to the Finance committee.


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