Audit and risk committees are integral to the scrutiny and challenge process. They advise boards and accounting officers on matters of financial accountability, assurance and governance, and can support organisations, providing expert challenge, helping organisations focus on what is important, and how best to manage risk.

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Each organisation will have existing risk management processes in place, but risk appetite may have changed as a result of COVID-19, for the organisation to operate effectively and respond in a timely manner. This may result in a weakening of controls in some areas, increasing the likelihood of other risks occurring. Organisations will need to consider how long this change in risk appetite is sustainable for.


This guide aims to help audit and risk committee members discharge their responsibilities in several different areas, and to examine the impacts on their organisations of the COVID-19 outbreak, including on:

  • annual reports;
  • financial reporting;
  • the control environment; and
  • regularity of expenditure.

In each section of the guide we have set out some questions to help audit and risk committee members understand and challenge activities. Each section can be used on its own, although we would recommend that audit and risk committee members consider the whole guide, as the questions in other sections may be interrelated.

The guide may also be used as organisations and audit and risk committees consider reporting in the 2020-21 period when more specific and detailed reporting on the outbreak will be required.

Read more about our work on the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.