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Apologies for Absence and Substitutions
The Committee is asked to note any apologies for absence and substitutions received from Members.
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillor Miles and Aphrodite Lefevre (Director & Engagement Lead for BDO LLP, the Council’s appointed External Auditors).
To confirm and sign as a correct record, the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee, held on Monday 29 July 2019.
The minutes of the previous meeting of the Committee, held on 29 July 2019, were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors are invited to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Personal Interest, and the nature of it, in relation to any item on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest made on this occasion.
Questions on Notice pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 38
Subject to providing two working days’ notice, a Member of the Committee may ask the Chairman of the Committee a question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties which affect the Tendring District and which falls within the terms of reference of the Committee.
There were none on this occasion.
To provide the Committee with a periodic report on the Internal Audit function for the period July 2019 – August 2019, as required by the professional standards.
There was a report submitted by the council’s Internal Audit Manager (Craig Clawson) (report A.1) which provided a periodic update on the Internal Audit function for the period July and August 2019. The report was split into two sections as follows:-
(1) Internal Audit Plan Progress 2019/20;and
(2) Internal Audit Charter.
(1) INTERNAL AUDIT PLAN PROGRESS 2019/20
It was reported that a total of four audits had been completed since the previous update give to Members in July 2019. A further two audits were at the fieldwork completion stage and awaited an ‘exit meeting’ in order to discuss and agree the findings within the audits in question. Six audits were currently in the fieldwork phase and 13 audits had been allocated and would commence soon.
As there were a number of audits that were continuous or consultative, the Internal Audit Manager had provided the following summary of progress:-
Office Transformation Programme
The Internal Audit Manager continued to attend scheduled meetings regarding the Transformation Programme. This cross departmental meeting had a set agenda to review the progress of the programme and address issues as they arose. Internal Audit was kept up to date with progress of the programme and action plans in place to mitigate key risks within the programme. Senior Management and the Portfolio Holder for Corporate Finance and Governance also attended those meetings.
Digital Transformation Programme
Meetings were held between key Officers involved in the programme and a third party company providing a network re-design solution on behalf of TDC. No significant issues had been raised to date. The current work plan was in phase two of implementation which was designed to create self-service portals for services within the Environmental Services department.
It was reported that a new Project Management process had been put in place at Officer level in order to ensure that all Project Initiation Documents (PID) were scrutinised and assessed as early as possible before and after agreement from Cabinet. The premise of the arrangement was to ensure that all projects were practically assessed within resources available on a project by project basis. It was emphasised that this process was not in place to approve or reject projects, only to ensure that all available information was provided to Members before a decision was taken by Cabinet and continuous assessments were in place, if required; after a Cabinet decision had been made. The idea was to manage expectations and ensure that each project was assessed in its own right in order to challenge the following key elements:
Priorities – Did this activity meet the Council’s priorities? Did it deliver against key objectives?
Financials – What was the value of the activity overall?
Risk – Were all risks being addressed?
Sustainability – Were the outcomes achievable; what was the long term impact; were the potential savings short term or long term?
Deliverability – Likelihood of delivering the project with the resources available?
Outcome – Would the project provide the expected outcome e.g. would the savings be ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
To present to the Committee the External Auditor’s Annual Audit Letter for the year ended 31 March 2019.
There was submitted a report by the Council’s Deputy Chief Executive (report A.2) which present for the Committee’s consideration the External Auditor’s Annual Audit Letter for the year ended 31 March 2019.
The Committee was reminded that the Accounts and Audit Regulations required that:
(1) A committee must meet to consider the letter as soon as reasonably practicable;
(2) following consideration of the letter in accordance with paragraph (1) the authority must—(a) publish (which must include publication on the authority’s website) the audit letter; and (b) make copies available for purchase by any person on payment of such sum as the authority may reasonably require.
Members were informed that there were a number of different strands of external audit work undertaken during the year but primarily they related to the financial statements and value for money opinion. The outcomes from those activities were reported to the Council separately as they were completed during the year. The Annual Audit Letter was effectively therefore an end of year report for the Council which captured and summarised those outcomes in one document. It was primarily directed to Members but it must also be made publicly available.
It was reported that the Annual Audit Letter relating to 2018/19 had raised no significant concerns. Page 7 of the Auditor’s letter highlighted general risks around sustainable resource deployment and financial resilience, which continued to be actively managed within the Council’s long term financial forecast. That action had also been recognised within the Council’s Annual Governance Statement and updates would be provided to the Committee over the course of the year, with the first one set out within the Table of Outstanding Issues report which would be considered later in the meeting.
Having considered and discussed the contents of the Annual Audit Letter it was:-
RESOLVED, that the contents of the Annual Audit Letter, for the year ended 31 March 2019 be noted.
An update will be given on the progress against outstanding actions identified by the Committee.
There was submitted a report by the Deputy Chief Executive (report A.3) which presented to the Committee the progress on outstanding actions identified by the Committee.
The Committee was informed that there were usually two appendices to this report which would contain: 1) updates against general issues previously identified by the Committee; and 2) updates against the Annual Governance Statement that the Committee had agreed at its July meeting each year.
Members were made aware that, as there were no outstanding actions in respect of general issues identified by the Committee, only updates against the Annual Governance Statement were included and detailed in Appendix A to the report.
It was reported that, to date, there were no significant issues arising from the above, with work remaining in progress or updates provided elsewhere on the agenda where appropriate.
The Committee was advised that the Council’s Risk Based Verification Policy was usually reported to the September meeting of the Committee. However, it was suggested that the annual reporting cycle be amended so that it was agreed instead in March each year, just ahead of the start of the financial year it related to.
Similarly, it was suggested that the review of the Council’s Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy would, in future, be presented to the January meetings of the Committee each year instead of in September as had previously been the Committee’s practice.
Having considered and discussed the contents of the report and its appendix it was:-
RESOLVED that –
(a) the progress made on the outstanding issues be noted;
(b) the change to the annual review cycle for the Risk Based Verification Policy with the Committee now considering the policy at its March meeting each year instead of its September meeting be approved;
(c) the Risk Based Verification Policy previously approved by the Committee at its meeting held in September 2018, remains in place for the period up to 31 March 2020;
(d) the change to the annual review cycle for the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy with the Committee now considering the Strategy at its January meeting each year instead of its September meeting be approved; and
(e) a letter be sent in the name of the Chairman of the Committee to strongly urge all Members to attend all Members’ Briefings and that such letter also requests feedback from non-attending Members as to the reasons why they were unable/unwilling to attend Members’ Briefings.