WHBC SHARED INTERNAL AUDIT SERVICE (SIAS) PROGRESS 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 2021/22 as at
14 January 2022.
Report of the Shared Internal Audit Service
(SIAS) in delivering the Council’s Annual Audit Plan for
2021/22 as at 14 January 2022. Proposed amendments to the 2021/22
Annual Audit Plan report were highlighted, as were the
implementation status of previously agreed audit
recommendations. An update on
performance management information was also provided.
Members noted that the 2021/22 Annual Audit
Plan was approved by the Audit Committee at its meeting on 17 March
The following points were raised and
- SIAS had completed 5 audits with
positive assurance outcomes and only two medium priority
recommendations raised. It was noted that the table at 2.2 under
assurance level were classified as ‘not assessed’, this
was because it was a follow up audit and an assurance opinion was
not re-issued. SIAS stated that they did follow up on the
recommendations that were made in the previous audits that were
- The paragraph at 2.4 captured
amendments to the audit plan. This was essentially allocating
additional time for contingencies to projects that were slightly
larger than originally budgeted for. It was noted that the salary
budgeting and monitoring project changed to look at financial
regulations. This was in response to changes to the financial
regulations and a desire to get some assurance on the
implementations and applications of the changes, rather than look
at salary budgeting which was deemed a lower priority.
- SIAS had added an additional
advisory note to look at the ongoing management of the Mears
contract with reference to changes made to contract
management. The Community
Infrastructure Levy (CIL) had been removed due to the outcomes of
the Local Plan, which meant the value of an audit in this area at
this time was reduced.
- At paragraph 2.7, the remaining high
priority recommendations resulted in building services asset
management audit on corporate property. It was noted that it had
been implemented to a satisfactory level. Many of the medium
priority recommendations had now been implemented, although there
were two medium priority recommendations where revised target dates
had been added.
- It was noted that the table at 2.11
had been updated since the report had been written. The planned
days had increased to 58%. It was noted that SIAS felt it may be
challenging to reach 95% this year as there had been many
disruptions, such as organisational change and restructure which
resulted in 4 redundancies within the team. They will strive to
reach as close to 95% as possible but the focus for the rest of the
year was to ensure that they had completed enough work to be able
to provide an annual opinion at the end of the year.
- It was noted that SIAS were required
to have an external quality assessment every 5 years. This was with
an independent assessor and took place in June 2021.The result of
the assessment was a rating of ‘partially conforms’.
This was mainly around the clarity of SIAS’s audit charter
which was applicable across all partners. To rectify this, SIAS had
updated the audit charter and the assessor indicated they could
self-assess as ‘generally conforms’. The assessor did note that SIAS was a
well-regarded internal audit partnership delivering professional
and quality services to its partners with high performance.
- Members asked if SIAS were confident
that they would reach 95% at the end of the year and whether the
annual opinion could be delivered if less than 95%. SIAS stated that they were confident that they
would reach between 90% and 95%. Most of the projects in the plan
this year would have been started and all the work that was not
completed by the 31 March 2022 will be continued into April, which
would feed into the annual report. It was noted they were looking
at projects in the current quarter and quarter 4 and risk assessing
projects on whether assurance was required to be provided by the
end of the year or where there was flexibility to defer.
- Members asked if they could have
next year’s plans and reports in advance so they can view and
comment on them. SIAS stated that they were currently in planning
for next year and had met with 60% of heads of service. The intention was to bring a draft plan to the
March meeting. It was noted that SIAS were looking into their
approach to audit planning as some of the feedback they received
was that their consistency across their partners could be improved
and the transparency on how certain projects go into the plan could
be improved. SIAS was looking to adopt a risk management type
scoring system for the audit plan.
- Members queried why Climate
Emergency was only in quarter 4. SIAS stated that the climate
emergency may not get completed this year. The reason for this was
because SIAS did a sustainability audit last year so they had some
assurance in that area already. If it was not completed by the end
of this year, SIAS will look to finalise the Climate Emergency
audit at the beginning of next year.
- Members asked how the Council could
improve their auditing or selection of areas to audit to ensure the
Council does not behave illegally. SIAS stated that some of the
changes that they had put in place for audit planning would
hopefully pick up any issues that might get missed. SIAS had
standardised the areas that they look at prior to meeting with
heads of service.
- Members asked if there was a Council
whistleblowing policy in place and whether it was designed for
internal or external whistleblowing? It was confirmed that there
was a policy and it was published on the Council website and it
covered both employees and the public. It was also noted that there
was training on whistleblowing to make employees aware of certain
polices. Officers stated they would ensure it is picked up as part
of employee inductions if this was not already in place.
- Members asked if the redundancies at
SIAS were made to save money and if the restructure will help to
increase the percentages in the long term? SIAS stated that the
restructure was as a result of most partners reducing their planned
days at the start of 2021/22. The reduction at Welwyn Hatfield was
minor (5 days). It was noted that the
reason SIAS was impacted by the organisational changes was because
of the uncertainty it caused within the team.
- Members suggested that there may be
merit in the audit committee to look into the Housing audit in more
detail as Members needed assurance in this area. The Chair advised
that a specific and separate meeting would not be required as the
matter was discussed at other committees as well as at Council. The
Executive Member for Resources stated that the Council needed to
identify how internal audit could be improved so that it could
detect such incidences, and that it was the role of the Cabinet
Housing Panel to consider progress against the plan.
(1) Note the Internal Audit Progress Report for the
period to 14 January 2022.
implementation status of internal audit recommendations and the
(3) Approve the revised SIAS Internal Audit