Agenda and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

182.

EMERGENCY EVACUATION PROCEDURE

The Chair will draw attention to the emergency evacuation procedure as set out under Note 7.

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Officer advised the meeting of the procedure.

183.

ELECTION OF VICE-CHAIR

To elect a Vice-Chair (if required) for this meeting.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that a Vice-Chair was not required on this occasion.

184.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

Minutes:

Councillor Andy Furse presented his apologises and was substituted by Councillor Richard Samuel.

185.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

At this point in the meeting declarations of interest are received from Members in any of the agenda items under consideration at the meeting. Members are asked to indicate:

(a) The agenda item number in which they have an interest to declare.

(b) The nature of their interest.

(c) Whether their interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an other interest,  (as defined in Part 2, A and B of the Code of Conduct and Rules for Registration of Interests)

Any Member who needs to clarify any matters relating to the declaration of interests is recommended to seek advice from the Council’s Monitoring Officeror a member of his staff before the meeting to expedite dealing with the item during the meeting.

Minutes:

There were none.

186.

TO ANNOUNCE ANY URGENT BUSINESS AGREED BY THE CHAIR

The Chair will announce any items of urgent business.

Minutes:

There was none.

187.

ITEMS FROM THE PUBLIC - TO RECEIVE DEPUTATIONS, STATEMENTS, PETITIONS OR QUESTIONS

Minutes:

There were none.

188.

ITEMS FROM COUNCILLORS AND CO-OPTED AND ADDED MEMBERS

To deal with any petitions, statements or questions from Councillors and, where appropriate, co-opted and added Members.

Minutes:

There were none.

189.

MINUTES: 8 FEBRUARY 2018 pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Minutes:

The Independent Member said that it was not technically correct to state that Northamptonshire County Council had gone bankrupt (second paragraph on page 3 of the previous Minutes, agenda page 7). The situation was that they had had extreme difficulty setting a lawful budget for the current year, and that the Chief Finance Officer had issued a Section 114 notice.

 

The Minutes were approved as a correct record, subject to this amendment, and signed by the Chair.

 

The Independent Member said that he had spoken to the Head of Audit West about the issue that he had raised at the previous meeting about the robustness of companies providing outsourced services to the Council (Minute 181), and he understood that there would be an item about this on a future agenda.

190.

EXTERNAL AUDIT UPDATE pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Barber and Mrs Morgan-Bower presented the External Audit Update Report, and its three appendices, namely the External Audit Fee Letter, the External Audit Chair of Audit Committee Letter and the External Audit Management (S151) letter.

 

The Chair thanked the External Auditors for the work they had done, and said that the Committee could take assurance from the fact that their findings to date showed that the Council was heading in the right direction.

 

RESOLVED to note the report and appendices.

 

191.

INTERNAL AUDIT ANNUAL REPORT 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 346 KB

Minutes:

The Head of Audit West and the Audit Manager (Audit West) presented the report.

 

The Audit Manager (Audit West) reminded Members that the 2017/18 Audit Plan had been presented to the Committee in April 2017, and that an update to the end of September 2017 and been presented to the Committee in December 2017. He drew attention to the Internal Audit performance dashboard on agenda page 48 and to the Audit Plan position statement in Appendix 1 of the report.

 

He asked Members to note that though there had been a significant amount of unplanned work, effective working with Internal Audit’s strategic partner, the Devon Audit Partnership, had allowed 80% of the Plan to be completed. The high level of unplanned work and the number of investigations being carried out had been discussed at the December meeting, as had the Senior Auditor vacancy and the long-term sickness of two members of staff. The amount of unplanned work had continued to increase in the second half of the year.

 

Time spent on investigations during the year had exceeded 94 days. In addition, the three items of unplanned audit review work referred to in paragraph 4.9.2 of the report had accounted for 29 days. The contingency for unplanned work had been exceeded by 20%. He asked Members to note the 92% of audits completed in planned time and the high level of customer satisfaction.

 

He said that the fact that only 58% of recommendations had been implemented might at first sight appear disappointing, but this had to be put into context. During the year 20 audits had been followed up, of which 10 had high risk-rated recommendations. Only 3 of these had high-risk recommendations that were not implemented, as detailed in paragraphs 4.6.3-4.6.5 of the report. The 58% figure indicated that there was a problem, but non-implementation related to only a minority of audits.

 

Two audits had resulted in an Assurance Level 2 “Weak Control Framework”, as detailed in paragraphs 4.8.2 and 4.8.3. In both cases management had accepted the recommendations and both audits will be followed up during the first half of the current financial year.

 

A Member questioned the value of the customer satisfaction survey, since, in his view, managers were very unlikely to express negative opinions. He thought the focus of Internal Audit and of the Committee should be on whether recommendations were implemented or not. The Head of Audit West responded that during audits there was quite often an element of disagreement or conflict with management, so the 100% figure for customer satisfaction was meaningful and significant. Collecting customer satisfaction information did not require the expenditure of additional effort. The Audit Manager (Audit West) added that satisfaction feedback allowed Internal Audit to monitor the work of the strategic partner, Devon Audit Partnership, and it was important to do this. Mr Barber said that he thought using customer feedback to inform how future audits were conducted was a sensible approach.

 

A Member asked about the audits whose status was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 191.

192.

INTERNAL AUDIT ANNUAL PLAN 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Audit West presented the report.

 

A Member asked what kind of training and tool kits were available to managers, who were the first and second lines of defence in the internal control framework. The Head of Audit West replied that these varied from service to service, and would include particular statutory requirements, inspectors’ reviews by OFSTED or the HSE and good practice standards, for example. The Council also had its own standards, policies and procedures to manage internal control including Financial Regulations, Contract Standing Orders and the Budget Management Scheme. The Member asked how services could be encouraged to keep corporate governance requirements in mind, if there were varying standards for particular services, over which Internal Audit had no control. The Head of Audit West replied that the particular standards for a service were embodied in job descriptions and so forth along with those set for all services, i.e. Financial Regulations and it was reasonable to expect management to assess risks in their own area and work with the second line of defence – the oversight functions – in designing appropriate control. Internal Audit continue to assist in this process and would assess what the statutory requirements and the risks were in that particular area, and assess the internal control framework against those factors and make recommendations based on the results of the audit. This had been done over a number of years, so there was an evidence base on which to draw for auditors and management. In financial management, for example, it was very clear what was expected.

 

RESOLVED to approve the Internal Audit Plan for 2018/19.

 

193.

ANNUAL REPORT OF CORPORATE AUDIT COMMITTEE pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Audit West presented the report.

 

Members noted the proposed process and timescale for the production of the Annual Report as set out in paragraph 5.2

 

A Member suggested that it would helpful to have in the report some comparisons with the previous year, such as issues which have become more complex, restructuring in the Council, different relationships with other organisations and changes in the financial and political environment. The Committee’s Annual Report should be a living document, rather than a template-based exercise. The Head of Audit West said that the views in the annual report would be those of the Committee and would be approved by the Chair on behalf of the Committee. The Member said that he hoped the point he had made would be taken on board.

 

RESOLVED to agree the process for the preparation of the Annual Report of the Committee and that the current terms of reference of the Committee are appropriate and no changes are proposed to them.