Venue: Princes Theatre - Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, CO15 1SE. View directions
Contact: Ian Ford 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 Councillor Miles (with no substitute).
To confirm and sign as a correct record, the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee, held on Thursday 22 April 2021.
It was moved by Councillor Alexander, seconded by Councillor Placey and:-
RESOLVED that the Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on Thursday 22 April 2021 be approved as a correct record.
Further to Minute 33 (22.4.21) the Council’s Head of Public Realm (Ian Taylor) attended the meeting and updated the Committee on the progress made in relation to the audit actions that had been required following the ‘Improvement Required’ outcome of the Fleet Management Audit. He then responded to Members’ questions thereon.
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 present for consideration and agreement the External Auditor’s Audit Planning Report for the year ended 31 March 2021.
The Committee had before it a report submitted by the Council’s Assistant Director (Finance & IT) (report A.1) which presented for consideration and agreement the External Auditor’s Audit Planning Report for the year ended 31 March 2021.
It was reported that the plan was set against a risk based approach in order to provide a focus on areas of the financial statements where the risk of material misstatement was higher or where there was a risk that the organisation had not made proper arrangements for securing value for money in its use of resources.
Members’ attention was drawn to the new approach to the use of resources assessment following a change in the associated code and guidance. The outcome from the work of the External Auditor was now moving to a commentary on the Council’s value for money arrangements rather than a conclusion or opinion.
The commentary would cover the following 3 headings:
A) Financial Sustainability: how the body plans and manages its resources to ensure it can continue to deliver its services, including:
1) how the Council ensured that it identified all the significant financial pressures that were relevant to its short and medium-term plans and buildt these into them;
2) how the Council planned to bridge its funding gaps and identify achievable savings;
3) how the Council planned finances to support the sustainable delivery of services in accordance with strategic and statutory priorities;
4) how the Council ensured that its financial plan was consistent with other plans such as workforce, capital, investment, and other operational planning which might include working with other local public bodies as part of a wider system; and
5) how the Council identified and managed risks to financial resilience, e.g. unplanned changes in demand, including challenge of the assumptions underlying its plans.
B) Governance: how the body ensures that it makes informed decisions and properly manages its risks, including:
1) how the Council monitored and assessed risk and how it gained assurance over the effective operation of internal controls, including arrangements to prevent and detect fraud;
2) how the Council approached and carried out its annual budget setting process;
3) how the Council ensured effective processes and systems were in place to ensure budgetary control; to communicate relevant, accurate and timely management information (including non-financial information where appropriate); supported its statutory financial reporting requirements; and ensured corrective action was taken where needed;
4) how the Council ensured it made properly informed decisions, supported by appropriate evidence and allowing for challenge and transparency. This included arrangements for effective challenge from those charged with governance such as the audit committee; and
5) how the Council monitored and ensured appropriate standards, such as meeting legislative/regulatory requirements and standards in terms of officer or member behaviour (such as gifts and hospitality or declarations/conflicts of interests).
C) Improving economy, efficiency and effectiveness: how the body uses information about its costs and performance to improve the way it manages and delivers its services, including:
1) how financial and ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To present to the Audit Committee the updated Corporate Risk Register.
The Committee had before it a report submitted by the Assistant Director (Finance & IT) (report A.2) which presented it with the updated Corporate Risk Register.
Members were informed 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 in the last year in respect of the COVID 19 pandemic would have a major on-going impact on the Council and would likely cut across many of the risks currently included within the register.
The Committee was advised that given the on-going and ‘live’ nature of the current COVID pandemic, it continued to be difficult to fully revise the register at this point in time to reflect what was deemed to be the ‘new normal’. However, the Council continued to review the underlying risks associated with COVID 19 across all of its services, ensuring that it could continue to effectively maintain, operate and deliver its operations and services. Timely and effective responses had been made in key risk areas, such as IT and network resilience, communication and management of information, cyber security, anti-fraud and corruption, health and safety along with business continuity / ability to effective deliver services.
It was reported that Council Services would continue to reopen in the coming months and any associated risk relating to this would be carried out in a COVID secure way in order to ensure staff and customer safety. A review of lessons learnt relating to COVID 19 was currently being undertaken and would be brought before the Audit Committee at a later meeting.
The below table set out all amendments to the Risk Register since it had been last considered by the Committee in October 2020:-
The Committee was informed that the Fraud and Risk Team continued to oversee the Council’s Risk Management arrangements supported by the Council’s Internal Audit Team. The table below set out the work that ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Further to Minute 35 (22.4.21) and in response to a question asked by the Chairman (Councillor Coley), the Assistant Director (Finance & IT) (Richard Barrett) gave an update to Members on the Government’s latest response to the recommendations contained within the Redmond Review. He also undertook to circulate the details of that response by email to the members of the Committee.
Members’ Training Opportunity on Statement of Accounts
In response to a question asked by the Chairman (Councillor Coley), the Assistant Director (Finance & IT) (Richard Barrett) undertook to liaise with the Head of Democratic Services & Elections (Keith Simmons) in relation to the arrangements and practicalities around the provision of an in-house or online training opportunity for the members of the Committee on the Statement of Accounts.