Venue: Committee Room - Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, CO15 1SE. View directions
Contact: Keith Durran Email: email@example.com or Telephone 01255 686585
Apologies for Absence and Substitutions
The Committee is asked to note any apologies for absence and substitutions received from Members.
No apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors on this occasion.
Minutes of the Last Meeting PDF 106 KB
To confirm and sign as a correct record, the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee, held on Thursday 15 December 2022.
The Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on Thursday 15 December 2022 were approved as a correct record and were signed by the Chairman.
The Committee were also updated by Tharshiha Vosper of BDO LLP (the Council’s External Auditors) in relation to matter of undisclosed directorships that was brought up in the last meeting, she confirmed that this matter was now closed.
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.
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 - Report on Internal Audit PDF 196 KB
To provide the Committee with a periodic report on the Internal Audit function for the period September 2022 – December 2023, as required by the professional standards.
The Committee was provided with a progress report on the Internal Audit function for the period September 2022 – December 2022.
It covered three main points as follows:-
· A total of nine audits had been completed since the previous update in September 2022. Four of the six audits in fieldwork were close to completion. The final 12 audits had been allocated and were due to progress in the final quarter.
· All audits completed in this period had received a satisfactory level of assurance.
· An external quality assessment was recommended for Internal Audit functions every five years. Therefore, this Council’s assessment would be due in March 2023. As this was the end of the financial year, which was one of the busiest periods in the year, it was proposed to delay the assessment until later in the 2023/24 financial year.
Members heard that a total of nine audits had been completed during the period September 2022 to December 2022. All audits completed in that period had received a satisfactory level of assurance with no significant issues to report. A further six audits from the 2022/23 Internal Audit Plan were in fieldwork phase, four of which were near completion. The final 12 audits from the plan had been allocated to be scoped and completed in the final quarter of the 2022/23 financial year.
Members also heard that although the Council currently had 12 audits due to be scoped and progress in this quarter it was not too far behind where it had been in the same period last year, therefore there was currently no concern at this stage as to whether enough audit work would be completed by the end of the financial year in order to be able to provide the Head of Internal Audit’s Annual Opinion. If there was any change to this the Audit Committee would be updated accordingly. The majority of the key system audits were now completed or nearing completion which held significant weight when contributing to the annual opinion.
The Committee was informed that the Internal Audit function issued satisfaction surveys for each audit when completed. In the period under review, 100% of the responses received had indicated that the auditee was satisfied with the audit work undertaken. Members were also reminded that Internal Audit was currently an establishment of 4 full time employees with access to a third party provider of Internal Audit Services for specialist audit days as and when required. At the time of the meeting the Council had an Audit Technician post vacant.
It had been reported at the previous meeting of the Committee that the Council would explore a shared apprenticeship route with other authorities as a way for new recruits to gain experience across different sectors and authorities while learning. Unfortunately, this Council had not been able to gain enough interest across all authorities to make it worthwhile therefore it was now going to have to revisit the normal apprenticeship route.
It was reported to Members that the Public Sector ... view the full minutes text for item 24.
Report of the Assistant Director (Finance & IT) - A.2 - Table of Outstanding Issues PDF 181 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 considered the Table of Outstanding Issues. It had been reviewed and updated since it had last been considered by the Committee in September 2022.
There were two main elements to this report, namely:-
1) Updates against general items raised by the Committee; and
2) Updates against the 2021/22 and 2022/23 Annual Governance Statement Action Plan.
Members heard that in terms of item 1), there were no significant issues to raise, with actions remaining in progress. In terms of item 2), it set out the latest Annual Governance Statement agreed by the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive at the end of July 2022, and included any outstanding actions from the previous statement along with a number of new items identified. Activity would remain in progress against the various items, which would be reported to Members as part of this report mechanism going forward.
It was reported to the Committee that the Statement of Accounts 2020/21 remained subject to the conclusion of the work of the External Auditor. At the last meeting of the Committee, the External Auditor had provided a progress report, which set out the work that they had completed on the areas of significant risk and the results of that work. Those results were still going through a quality and review process but what was very positive to report was that the Auditors had not identified any errors, significant concerns or any control weaknesses that they needed to bring to the Council’s attention.
It was reported to Members that the Auditors had increased their staffing on this particular audit in order to complete it.
RIPA – Regulatory Investigatory Powers Act 2000
It was reported that this Authority had not conducted any RIPA activity in the last quarter, and that it was rare that it would be required to do so.
It was reported to Members that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, acting as interim system leader, had provided local authorities with a general update on 28 September 2022; stating that the Department had led work on a system-wide package of measures aimed at addressing audit delays. That programme continued to deliver on initiatives responding to the Redmond Review, whilst addressing matters to assist with wider market issues, including timeliness.
For Members’ information a recent Local Government Chronicle article had indicated that nationally there were 600 audits still outstanding. As further progress was announced by the Government, updates would be provided to future meetings of this Committee, which would hopefully set out the necessary practical steps to implement the recommendations made as part of this review.
The Committee heard that, at its September 2022 meeting, Members had been provided with an update regarding the Planning Enforcement Policy. In response the Chairman had stated the following namely that:-
a) he had concerns as to whether the staffing resources would be adequate to implement the Planning Enforcement Policy;
b) he felt that an audit should be carried out of the planning ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
Report of the Assurance and Resilience Manager - A.3 - Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy PDF 155 KB
To present to the Audit Committee an updated Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy.
The Committee considered an updated Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy.
Members were reminded that the Council’s Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy had last been updated in April 2022 and it remained subject to an annual review process.
An amended strategy was attached as Appendix A to the Officer report which reflected a number of minor amendments emerging as part of the annual review process. Amendments made since the last review had been highlighted in red/ italic font. For completeness, any sections being removed had been retained for the purpose of reporting the final version back to the Committee, with the font being struck through and in a red/ italic font.
The Strategy continued to be based on CIPFA’s code of practice on managing the risk of fraud and corruption as previously adopted by the Committee at its meeting held on 22 March 2018. As its foundation, the Strategy set out the Council’s commitments along with the following key areas:
· Purpose, Commitment and Procedure
· Legislation and General Governance
· Standards, Expectations and Commitment
· Roles and Responsibilities
· Detection and Investigation
· Resources Invested in Counter Fraud and Corruption
It was reported that the updated strategy provided details of ongoing projects and provided realistic timescale for these to be finalised.
It was RESOLVED that the amended Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy, as set out in Appendix A to the Report of the Assurance and Resilience Manager, be approved.