Venue: Committee Room - Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, CO15 1SE. View directions
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 Fairley and Steady. There were no substitutions.
Minutes of the Last Meeting PDF 283 KB
To confirm and sign as a correct record, the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee, held on Thursday 30 June 2022.
The Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on Thursday 30 June 2022 were approved as a correct record and were 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 District of Tendring and which falls within the terms of reference of the Committee.
No Questions on Notice pursuant to the provisions of Council Procedure Rule 38 had been submitted on this occasion.
Report of the Internal Audit Manager - A.1 - Periodic Update Report on Internal Audit: June 2022 - August 2022 PDF 136 KB
To provide the Committee with a periodic report on the Internal Audit function for the period June 2022 – August 2022, 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 June 2022 to August 2022 together with an update on the Internal Audit Charter for approval by the Committee, as required by the professional standards. That report was split into two sections as follows:-
1) INTERNAL AUDIT PLAN PROGRESS 2022/23
It was reported that the Housing Strategy audit was the only audit that remained outstanding from the 2021/22 Internal Audit Plan. That audit had originally been delayed due to the sad passing of the Executive Officer for Housing Projects. The service had not been able to recruit to the post since then and were still currently recruiting to that position. Therefore, the audit had been moved into the 2022/23 Internal Audit Plan with a view to completing the audit later in the year.
Members were made aware that a total number of five audits had been completed during June 2022 to August 2022. One report in this period had received an overall opinion of ‘Improvement Required’ (Depot Operations) with the other four receiving satisfactory assurance opinions with no significant issues being identified.
A further 14 audits from the 2022/23 Internal Audit Plan had been allocated, eight of which were currently at the fieldwork phase.
The Committee was informed that the Internal Audit team were currently in the ‘Key Systems’ phase of the plan where all financial and core service systems and processes were reviewed. Though, it was unanticipated that there would be any significant issues as historically they had been well managed, it was very important to ensure that those systems and processes continued to work as expected and remained well controlled.
The Chairman asked the following questions relating to the matters above:-
(1) Will the proposed Recycling and Waste audit look at the waste generated by the Council itself and by its external service providers?
(2) What will the proposed Freeport East audit be examining?
The Internal Audit Manager (Craig Clawson) responded along the following lines:-
(2) This audit would at the governance arrangements.
Members were aware that the Internal Audit Team 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.
The Committee was informed that Internal Audit was currently working with an establishment of 3fte with access to a third party provider of internal audit services for specialist audit days as and when required. The Council had advertised twice for the vacant Audit Technician post, but unfortunately had not been able to appoint to that post.
The Internal Audit Manager was a member of the Essex Audit Group, which was made up of all Heads of Internal Audit across all district and borough councils in Essex including Essex County Council and Southend and Thurrock unitary authorities. All members of this group were ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
Report of the Assistant Director (Partnerships) - A.2 - Progress Update following OfSTED Inspection of Career Track PDF 190 KB
The purpose of this report is to provide Audit Committee with a progress update on the organisation’s improvement actions following the Ofsted inspection of Career Track in November 2021, the last Audit Committee report of 31 March 2022 and the update on 30 June 2022.
Further to Minute 6 (30.6.22), the Assistant Director (Partnerships) provided the Audit Committee with a written progress update on the Council’s improvement actions following the Ofsted inspection of Career Track in November 2021, which had resulted in a grading of ‘Requiring Improvement’. Following that grading, the Council had implemented a comprehensive Development Plan to address the improvement areas identified by Ofsted.
Members were reminded that an internal Development Group had been established to monitor the progress against the actions identified within the Development Plan. The Development Group was chaired by Councillor Carlo Guglielmi in his role as Portfolio Holder with responsibility for Career Track. Membership of the group also included the Chief Executive, the Assistant Director (Partnerships), the Internal Audit Manager and the Executive Projects Manager (Governance). The Work Based Learning Manager and Organisational Development Manager reported to this group. The Internal Audit Manager and Executive Projects Manager were part of the Development Group as representatives of, respectively, the Section 151 Officer and the Monitoring Officer in their overarching governance roles due to the findings of the Ofsted Report.
It was reported that, to date, the Development Group had met five times and following significant progress it had been able to sign off the Development Plan at its last meeting in June 2022. With the recovery phase / improvement changes now complete, Career Track were returning to Business as Usual and the Development Group had recommended that the membership be revised to align with a governance required by Ofsted for the ongoing provision of all apprenticeships.
The Development Plan (which was attached to the Assistant Director’s report) had taken each of the five inspection categories and stated what was being planned to address each area. The document identified the key milestones and progress by using a RAG (Red, Amber, Green) system.
It was reported that initial activity had focussed on setting the foundations and getting them in place. This had involved ‘freeing up’ the Training Assessment Team Leader to dedicate their time to policy and curriculum development with the introduction of the OneFile system. To enable this to happen, a temporary Training Assessment Officer role had been created (30 hours per week) until the end of July 2022, and then subsequently extended to the end of December 2022 (24 hours per week). That Officer had taken over the apprenticeship caseload from the Training Assessment Team leader. In addition, the services of a specialist company, SDN (Strategic Development Network), had been utilised for their professional help and advice for policy and curriculum development.
That support had enabled Career Track to develop a new curriculum, which fully met the requirements and expectations of Ofsted. The curriculum covered the knowledge, skills and behaviours required by the standards, including personal development, which covered safeguarding, British values, career development and health and wellbeing. Employers were involved in creating the right curriculum for their apprentice(s).
Members were made aware that Career Track would follow the AELP (Association of Employment and Learning Providers) Governance Code, which was ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
Report of the Deputy Chief Executive - A.3 - Corporate Risk Update PDF 118 KB
To present to the Audit Committee the updated Corporate Risk Register and updated Risk Management Framework.
The Committee considered the updated Corporate Risk Register, which had last been submitted to it in March 2022.
Although no changes had been identified as being required at this time, following a recent review, the Corporate Risk Management Framework had been included at Appendix A to the Deputy Chief Executive’s report for Members’ information.
A full review of the corporate risks within this document had been conducted by the Assurance and Resilience Manager with a view to ensuring that the Council was considering the correct items.
It was reported that a review of the Council’s Business Impact Assessments was currently being undertaken by the Assurance and Resilience Manager in order to ensure that the Council identified the operational and financial impacts resulting from any potential disruption of business functions and processes. It would also consider how the Council could recover and continue to provide a service to residents in such circumstances.
Members were aware that the Council was dealing with some ongoing issues relating to Corporate IT that still needed to be resolved but those were moving forward at a reasonable pace, to ensure that the Council was not put at risk of cyber attack and was geared towards identifying the weaknesses throughout the authority which could make the Council vulnerable. This included stopping staff accessing TDC emails on their personal devices.
The Committee was reminded that the Council was experiencing difficulty in recruiting in some areas of the Council. The risk score had been increased to reflect this. It was hoped that this would be resolved in the next 6 months.
Given the various issues that continued to emerge from major changes / events within the national and global ‘landscape’, it was timely to undertake a wider review of the Corporate Risk Register heading into 2023/24. This would be undertaken by senior Officers, in consultation with Members, during the coming months. The changes to the Corporate Risk Register set out in this report therefore reflected a limited number of changes.
The table set out below detailed all amendments to the Risk Register since it had last been considered by the Committee in March 2022:-
Report of the Assistant Director (Finance & IT) - A.4 - Table of Outstanding Issues PDF 92 KB
To present to the Committee the progress on outstanding actions identified by the Committee along with general updates on other issues that fall within the responsibilities of the Committee.
The Committee had before it a report on the progress of outstanding actions identified by the Committee along with general updates on other issues that fell within the responsibilities of the Committee (report A.4).
Members were reminded that a Table of Outstanding Issues was maintained and reported to each meeting of the Committee. This approach enabled the Committee to effectively monitor progress on issues and items that formed part of its governance responsibilities.
Members also heard that updates were set out against general items and the Annual Governance statement within Appendices A and B respectively and 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.
Statement of Accounts 2020/21
It was reported that the Statement of Accounts 2020/21 remained subject to the conclusion of the work of the External Auditor. At the time of this meeting, the associated report of the External Auditor was yet to be received as they continued their necessary audit work.
Aphrodite Lefevre, representing the Council’s External Auditor, BDO LLP, attended the meeting via Microsoft Teams.
The Chairman reminded Members that the responsibilities of the Audit Committee included:-
· approving the Council’s Statement of Accounts;
· providing Independent Assurance of the Adequacy of the Risk Management Framework; and
· considering the work and recommendations arising from both internal and external audit reports.
The Chairman also stated that the External Auditor was now a year behind in providing its view and opinion on the Council’s 2020/2021 Statement of Accounts and its Financial Strategy. He felt that the Audit Committee now needed clear advice on how it could discharge its responsibilities in those circumstances, given the lack of clear, documented reports from the External Auditor, which had been sorely missed.
Ms Lefevre responded by stating that she sincerely regretted the position that this Council was in, but that the delay had been substantially caused by issues outside of her control and ability to influence. A substantial amount of work on the Statement of Accounts had been completed which was now undergoing the required ‘quality control’ process. No substantial issues or weaknesses had been discovered to date. Unfortunately, the Auditor working on the Accounts had left BDO and there had been a delay in finding a replacement. There was now a new Auditor in place but they were inexperienced and therefore required a lot of ‘hands on’ guidance at this time. Ms Lefevre continued to hold regular meetings with the Council’s Management Team and expected to be able to submit a final report to the next meeting of the Committee. Ms Lefevre also undertook to give an assurance in writing that there were no substantial issues with the Council’s Accounts for 2020/2021.
The Assistant Director (Finance & IT) (Richard Barrett) informed Members that an update on the Council’s financial position would be submitted to the next meeting of the Cabinet on 7 October 2022.
RIPA – Regulatory Investigatory Powers Act 2000