Venue: Meeting will be held in accordance with provisions of SI 2020/392. Link to the live stream will be found here: https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/livemeetings
Contact: Ian Ford Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01255 686584
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 Councillors King (with Councillor Winfield substituting) and Miles (with no substitute).
To confirm and sign as a correct record, the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee, held on 30 January 2020
The Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on 30 January 2020 were approved as a correct record.
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 no Questions on Notice on this occasion.
To provide a periodic report on the Internal Audit function for the period March 2020 – June 2020 and the Internal Audit Managers Annual Report for 2019/20 as required by the professional standards.
The Committee had before it a report submitted by the Council’s Internal Audit Manager (A.1) which provided a periodic update on the Internal Audit function for the period March to June 2020 as well as the Internal Audit Manager’s Annual Report for 2019/20. That report was split into three sections as follows:-
(1) Internal Audit Plan Progress 2019/20;
(2) Annual Report of Internal Audit Manager; and
(3) Internal Audit Plan Progress 2020/21.
(1) Internal Audit Plan Progress 2019/20
The Committee was informed that the 2019/20 Internal Audit Plan had been completed with the exception of three audits which had been deferred to the 2020/21 Internal Audit Plan. It had been agreed previously to defer both the North Essex Garden Communities and the Financial Resilience Audits to the 2020/21 Audit Plan and the Health and Safety service review had had to be stopped during fieldwork due to the impact of COVID-19 on that service.
All further audits completed during March 2020 to June 2020 had received satisfactory assurance opinions with no significant issues being identified.
Members were reminded that an update was usually provided to the Committee on the continuous and consultative work undertaken by the Internal Audit Team in order to ensure that the Committee was aware of service area supportive work that was not measured in the same way as a standard Internal Audit. Unfortunately, due to the impact of COVID-19 the Internal Audit Team had been unable to provide the same level of support to the transformation programme and the digital transformation programme due to other emergency planning priorities across the District.
However, an update could be provided on the Northbourne Depot Security Review. The Corporate Director responsible for the Northbourne Depot had provided the following update:
· the locks on the compound area had been changed with access limited to specific Officers;
· the CCTV System had been fully upgraded;
· an electronic gate had been installed on the front entrance to the Depot which required fob access and was locked in the evenings and at weekends;
· the job scheduling system was currently being implemented.
The Committee was advised that Internal Audit were supporting the service on the implementation of the job scheduling system. This was a staged process which would potentially benefit other service areas such as Horticultural Services and Facilities Management in the long term if it was implemented effectively.
Members were aware that the Internal Audit function issued satisfaction surveys for each audit completed. In the period under review 100% of the responses received had indicated that the auditee had been satisfied with the audit work undertaken.
It was reported that the Internal Audit section was currently working with an establishment of 3 ‘Full Time Equivalents with access to a third party provider of internal audit services for specialist audit days as and when required. Due to COVID-19 all recruitment had been put on hold and Officers had therefore had not been in a position to continue with the recruitment process of a new ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
An update will be given on the progress against outstanding actions identified by the Committee.
The Committee had before it a report submitted by the Assistant Director (Finance & IT) (A.2) which presented to the Committee the progress on outstanding actions identified by the Committee.
The Committee was informed that there were three appendices to this report which would contained:
1) updates against general issues previously identified by the Committee;
2) updates against the Annual Governance Statement from last year as at the end of March 2020; and
3) the latest position against the Annual Governance Statement Action Plan for 2020/21.
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.
In addition, updates on other issues such as the outcomes from a Government review of the effectiveness of external audit conducted by Sir Tony Redmond and the revisions to the Statement of Accounts (SoA) and Annual Governance Statement (AGS) reporting timetable as a result of the impact of Covid-19 were set out in more detail in this report. In respect of the latter point, it was proposed to hold an additional meeting of the Committee in November in order to accommodate the revised deadline of 30 November 2020.
The Committee noted that the changes above would also have an impact on the Annual Audit Letter (AAL) provided by the Council’s External Auditor. This could not be prepared and issued until they had completed their work on the SOA and AGS. Therefore the AAL would now be submitted to the January 2021 meeting of the Committee.
Having considered the above and having discussed the contents of the report and its appendices it was:
RESOLVED that –
(a) the progress made against the actions set out in Appendices A to C to item A.2 of the report of the Assistant Director (Finance & IT) be noted;
(b) the revision to the deadline associated with the production and publication of the Statement of Accounts and Annual Governance Statement be noted; and
(c) Officers be requested to make the necessary arrangements for an additional meeting of the Committee to be held in November 2020 in order to ensure that the deadline of 30 November 2020 relating to the above is met.
To present to the Audit Committee the updated Corporate Risk Register.
The Committee had before it a report submitted by the Council’s Assistant Director (Finance & IT) (A.3) which presented for the Committee’s consideration the updated Corporate Risk Register.
Members were reminded that the Corporate Risk Register was regularly updated, and submitted to the Committee every six months, with the last such occasion being in January 2020. Given the unprecedented impact of the COVID 19 crisis, the risk register would need to be reviewed going forward against a potential ‘new normal’. Therefore only minor changes to the corporate risk register had been made at this stage. However, to ensure the most up-to-date position and assurance was reported to the Committee, a more detailed interim update against key risks was set out in this report.
It was reported that the risk register had been updated within the context of the usual and underlying risks that were included in the register. However, it was recognised that the unprecedented events experienced this year in respect of the COVID 19 crisis would have a major impact on the Council and likely cut across many of the risks currently included within the register. Given the on-going and ‘live’ nature of the current COVID crisis, it was difficult to fully revise the register at this point in time to reflect what is deemed to be the ‘new normal’.
However, it was felt timely to highlight the following two points in order to provide assurance around the Council’s governance related response and reaction to the unprecedented position faced this year:
As set out in the Annual Governance Statement, that had been published (subject to audit) with the Statement of Accounts 2019/20 at the end of July 2020, a number of actions were set out including those directly relating to the COVID 19 crisis. Updates against those actions were set out within the Table of Outstanding Issues report considered earlier in the meeting. Although it was still relatively early in the wider ‘recovery / response’ phase, it was important to highlight that a review was planned to be undertaken by Internal Audit that would cover the impact on governance falling into the following broad categories:
· Impact on business as usual in the delivery of services
· New areas of activity as part of the national response to coronavirus and any governance issues arising
· The funding and logistical consequences of delivering the local government response
· Assessment of the longer term disruption and consequences arising from the coronavirus pandemic
Members were aware that, to date, the Council had been able to maintain, operate and deliver the majority of its operations and services as usual but specific comments in respect of key governance items were set out in the following table as an interim update set against the current COVID 19 crisis:-