Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE
Contact: Alison Marston
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 29 June 2022 (previously circulated).
The minutes of the meeting held on 29 June 2022 were agreed as a correct record and noted by the chair.
Report of the Strategic Director (Property Maintenance and Climate Change) on the current strategic risks facing the Council as determined by the Corporate Management Team. These risks have been reviewed in place for the quarter July to September 2022.
Members received a report of the Service Director (Property Maintenance and Climate Change) on the risks as determined by the Senior Management Team and reviewed at the Performance Clinic in August. The risk commentaries have been updated to reflect the assessment of risks for the quarter July to September 2022.
Members asked at the Audit meeting in June for trends to be recognised on the report and to be able to see the changes since the last meeting. Officers updated verbally this time round, but this will be reflected within the report going forward.
There have been no changes to the risk scores since the last report, but there have been some additions to the commentaries as shown below:
• Change management: New senior management structure is in place with some still to start. There will also be a review of the modernisation programme, setting the direction for a new transformation programme.
• Retention and recruitment of staff: There have been successful recruitment campaigns, with new senior managers in post and some to start.
• Prevent duty to tackle radicalisation: A programme of auditing needs to be put in place to give the assurance that the prevent requirements are now fully embedded in operations.
• Corporate resilience and Health and Safety: These functions are currently under review, and a temporary resource has been put in place for Health and Safety, and arrangements have been put in place for a temporary resource for Emergency Planning and Risk and Resilience.
• Finance: Notes significant inflation and energy costs likely to impact on our budget. Risks and pressures will be presented to cabinet in the coming months as the budget setting process for 2023/24 is worked through.
• Potential for a critical ICT failure: Funding obtained for enhanced cyber training.
Additions to the risk register since the last meeting:
1) Availability for land of housing development. Assessed as a low risk.
2) Delivery of the affordable housing programme for housing development. Assessed as an amber rating.
Members asked about staff retention advising they believed there were 17 out of 55 positions vacant and asked for an up-to-date figure. Officers advised that the structure chart will be updated in the coming weeks and information on services and contacts had been added to members information hub.
Members asked if officers are happy that the strategic finance impact of five, and a probability of three is correct. Officers advised the assessment of this was based on the end of quarter one. Since then, the Council have finished the MTFS and this has been presented to Cabinet. The Council will be doing a reassessment of the risk at the end of quarter two which will come to the next committee.
(1) The committee noted the current Strategic Risk Register and the comments in respect of each risk where these are shown.
Annual report of the Shared Internal Audit Service (SIAS) 2021/22
Members received a report from Shared Internal Audit Service (SIAS). The report reflects on the activities on the previous year. To summarise, the report covers the following key areas:
• Levels of delivery, performance outcomes, and indicators
• Auditing throughout the pandemic reflecting on challenges and response
• Development of our people and processes
• Customer service
• Financial performance of SIAS
• Future development which focuses on service plan priorities for the year ahead
Note this is separate to the 2021/22 annual assurance statement and internal audit annual report that was presented to committee in June.
Members referred to appendix A showing employee costs being offset by increased consultancy. Members asked why the organisational change costs are so significant and why these weren’t factored into the original budget. SIAS noted that the organisational change costs were one off costs agreed by the board. Members asked how this deficit is shared by the councils. Officers confirmed this came from SIAS reserves.
(1) The committee noted the Internal Audit Annual Report.
Report of the Shared Internal Audit Service (SIAS) which provides details on the progress made by SIAS in delivering the Council’s Annual Audit Plan for 2022/23 as of 9 September 2022
Members received a report of the Shared Internal Audit Service (SIAS) which provided details of:
• Progress made by SIAS in delivering the Council’s Annual Audit Plan for 2022/23 as at 9 September 2022.
• In-Year Audit Plan review and proposed plan amendments.
• The implementation status of previously agreed audit recommendations.
• An update on performance indicators as at 9 September 2022.
There has been one final audit report issued since the previous progress report, relating to the 2022/23 audit plan. This relates to Grant Certification with an unqualified opinion provided.
The status of the one remaining audit from the Council’s 2021/22 audit plan is on Training Budgets where a draft report has been issued and awaits a management response.
The Audit Committee are requested to confirm the approval of two further audits for completion in Q4, the first being Procurement Board, and Procurement cards.
No new high priority recommendations have been raised as a result of the work completed and reported in the table at paragraph 2.2. Therefore, there are no outstanding high priority recommendations.
There are six medium priority recommendations, due for follow up by the end of September. Three have been implemented and an update has been provided regarding the status of each remaining outstanding audit recommendation and is included in appendix D. One update had not been provided at the time of this report being issued this relates to the council’s website recommendation. An update has since been provided confirming a review of the council’s subsites has been undertaken. A report will be going to the Senior Leadership Team making final recommendations following discussion with internal and external stakeholders. Work is expected to be concluded by 31 December 2022.
Two minor plan amendments have been agreed with management within this reporting period, the first reflecting an additional grant certification, and a second relates to the cancellation of the Voids Management Audit, due to the timing of the implementation of the new Housing Maintenance Contract, with the remaining days added to the existing Housing Maintenance Contract Mobilisation Audit. This extension will look to include a review of process mapping provided by the new contractor in advance of the contract going live and will include the voids management process.
SIAS have provided an overall progress update on performance indicators as at 9 September 2022. Since the report has been published an additional draft report has been issued moving this performance indicator to 19%. It is worth noting that SIAS are currently behind profile for both billable days and projects delivered to draft report status. This is primarily a result of staff vacancies and a challenging recruitment market. Additional commencement of field work has been delayed for two of the 2022/23 audits, this relates to the vaccine update audit where the terms of reference have now been issued, and the cyber risk audit which is now in field work and is due a draft report shortly. A recent recruitment campaign has allowed SIAS to fill four of these ... view the full minutes text for item 9.