Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE
Contact: Gurdip Paddan
SUBSTITUTION OF MEMBERS
To note any substitution of Committee members made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 19-22.
The following substitution of a Committee Member had been made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 19-22:
Councillor S.Thusu for S.Markiewicz.
An apology for absence was received from Councillor S.Markiewicz.
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 28 June 2018 (previously circulated).
The Minutes of the meeting held on 28 June 2018 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS BY MEMBERS
To note declarations of Members’ disclosable pecuniary interests, non-disclosable pecuniary interests and non-pecuniary interests in respect of items on this agenda.
Councillor P.Zukowskyj declared a non-pecuniary interest in items on the agenda as appropriate by virtue of being a Member of Hertfordshire County Council.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance), which brings to Members’ attention the current strategic and top operational risks facing the Council, as determined by Corporate Management Team and Heads of Service. These risks have been reviewed at the performance clinic in August 2018 and reflect the assessments in place for the quarter July to October 2018.
Members received a report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance), which provided the current strategic and top operational risks facing the Council, as determined by Corporate Management Team and Heads of Service. The risks had been reviewed at the performance clinic in August 2018 and reflected the assessments in place for the Quarter July to October 2018.
The report noted that the implementation of the new ‘Clearview’ project management, performance and risk system had now been completed and the report showed the risks as recorded on the system.
Members sought clarification of the scoring methodology and examples were provided in terms of low, medium and high risk. The attached risk report had two further risks included. The Committee noted the high risk highlighted in respect of Housing Management Operations and Homelessness Strategy. Officers advised that it was imperative that the Council was made aware of the potential impact.
Members raised the following points and sought clarification:
• Could more controls be introduced to lower the high risks identified within Housing Operations? Further data was requested and a written report by Clearview.
• Risks highlighted in respect of trees. It was noted that there was a significant number of mature trees that could cause problems in high winds/storm.
• Officers advised that provision would be made to show how risk scores were calculated in future, by redesigning the report to show those against each risk as well as the overall score.
• Management of universal credit.
That the current Strategic Risk Register and top operational risks be noted; together with comments in respect of each risk where shown.
Report of the Shared Internal Audit Service which provides an update on the progress in delivering the Annual Audit Plan for 2018-2019 as at 14 September 2018.
Report of the Shared Internal Audit Service (SIAS) which provided details of the delivery plan and key findings as well as details of the proposed amendments to the Audit Plan. The 2018/19 Annual Audit Plan was approved by the Audit Committee on 22 March 2018.
The following points were raised and discussed:
• Four final reports had been issued since 8 June 2018. Tree Management and Community Protection Notices, Health and Safety and Fire Safety.
• Amendments to the Audit Plan included Anti-Fraud Arrangements (5 days) which had been cancelled in order to facilitate fraud awareness training. Street Scene Procurement (5 days); an additional two days were added to this audit as a result of an expanded scope at the request of management.
• Members noted that the contingency in the 2018/19 Annual audit Plan for the Council stood at eight days.
• There were no High priority Recommendations.
• In terms of delivery progress the Council was slightly ahead.
• The progress against the 2018/19 Annual Audit Plan was considered.
• Officers explained that GDPR had been deferred and would be implemented following an assessment within six months of the implementation date.
• SIAS worked to Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS).
• Members asked how the Council compared to other authorities and it was noted that the Council was ahead.
(1) That the Internal Audit Progress Report for the period to 14 September 2018 be noted.
(2) That the proposed amendments to the Annual Audit Plan be noted.
Report of the Shared Internal Audit Service asking Members to note the Annual Report.
Members received a report which highlighted the work undertaken in 2017/18 and demonstrated that SIAS worked with partners to revise the service’s structure with a view to accommodating an agreed reduction in the level of audit work commissioned whilst still ensuring that the service was able to meet the appropriate levels required to fulfil the statutory obligations. SIAS reported that in 2017/18 they received a 98% satisfactory or higher feedback rating from their customers, which was an improvement on the previous year.
Members asked about the restructuring of SIAS and their work with partners such at BDO. Further clarification was requested in respect of the increased Partner/Consultancy costs. Officers explained that the increase had been due to staff sickness, three vacancies and streamlining the organisation. The costs had been kept to the minimum by reduction in salaries and income from external work that SIAS had provided; approximately £40,000. The net surplus would be used to offset the increase in costs. Members were advised that SIAS would only take on additional work if the resource was available.
A question was raised in respect of GDPR and the reason behind deferring implementation. Members noted that the main reason was to see what other changes were required so that work could be combined. The Officers explained that the Council was one of the first to commission work on GDPR in 2017/18 but it was put on hold to avoid duplication and unnecessary costs.
That the report be noted.
Report of Ernst & Young LLP providing a summary of the findings from the 2017/18 audit of the Council.
Members received a report on the Annual Audit letter for the year ended 31 March 2018, prepared by Ernst and Young LLP; unfortunately they were unable to attend the meeting.
The report provided the results and conclusions on the significant areas of the audit process. Overall there were no areas of concern and any risks identified had been included in the risk register. It was noted that the detailed findings from their audit work had been reported as the last meeting of the Audit Committee held on 28 June 2018.
Members raised and noted the following points:
• Accounts signed off before the deadline. A press release was published but was not picked up by the local paper.
• Council’s pension fund – there were no other matters to report, as the information had been disclosed based on the IAS 19 report issued to the Council by the actuary.
• Proper arrangements had been put into place by the Council to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness on its use of resources – this had provided value for money.
• A question was raised on the IFRS 15 Revenue from contracts with customers in terms of its impact. It was agreed that a written response would be provided to Committee Members. Members noted that some provisional information on the approach to adopting IFRS 15 had been issued by CIPFA in advance of the guidance notes.
• Members queried ‘how often were auditors changed?’. The Officers advised that auditors were not appointed by the Council. The Public Sector Audit Appointments Ltd appointed auditors and every five years they rotated auditors and appointed others as required. An update on the standard of rotation of auditors would be provided.
That the report be noted.