Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room - Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, CO15 1SE. View directions

Contact: Keith Durran Email:  kdurran@tendringdc.gov.uk or Telephone  01255 686585

Note: Moved from 28 September 2023 

Media

Items
No. Item

9.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

The Committee is asked to note any apologies for absence and substitutions received from Members.

 

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence or substitutions on this occasion.

10.

Minutes of the Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 313 KB

To confirm and sign as a correct record, the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee, held on Thursday 13 July 2023.

Minutes:

It was moved by Councillor Fairley, seconded by Councillor Platt and:-

 

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on Thursday 30 March 2023 were approved as a correct record and were signed by the Chairman, subject to the following alteration and amendment to Minute 7 (External Auditor’s Update):-

 

(1)    the addition of a new fourth paragraph to that minute to read as follows:-

 

“Officers confirmed that they were not aware of any outstanding requests by the External Auditor.” and

 

(2)    the deletion in the original fifth paragraph of that minute of the words “was unable to return” and their replacement by the words “did not re-join”.

 

11.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors are invited to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, Other Registerable Interests of Non-Registerable Interests, and the nature of it, in relation to any item on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made on this occasion.

12.

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.

 

Minutes:

No Questions on Notice pursuant to the provisions of Council Procedure Rule 38 had been submitted on this occasion.

13.

Report of the Assistant Director (Finance & IT) - A.3 - Table of Outstanding Issues pdf icon PDF 170 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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee was presented with a report on the progress of outstanding actions previously identified by the Committee along with general updates on other issues that fell within the responsibilities of the Committee. The Table of Outstanding Issues had been reviewed and updated since it had been last considered by the Committee in July 2023.

 

There were currently two main elements to this report as follows:

 

1) Updates against general items raised by the Committee (Appendix A)

 

2) Updates against the 2023 Annual Governance Statement Action Plan (Appendix B)

 

Members heard that in terms of item 1) above, there were no significant issues to raise, with actions remaining in progress or further details set out in the report.  In terms of item 2), this set out the latest Annual Governance Statement published as part of the Council’s Statement of Accounts for 2022/23 on 1 August 2023.  Activity would remain in progress against the various items, which would be reported to Members as part of this report going forward.

 

Continuing External Audit delays and an update on the External Auditor’s work on the Council’s Statement of Accounts 2020/21

 

Members were advised that, following discussions at the last Audit Committee relating to the completion of the External Auditor’s work on the Council’s 2020/21 Accounts, a further update was planned to be provided by the External Auditor directly at this meeting. 

 

In respect of the ongoing audit delays, it was reported that the Government’s response had been set out in the Monitoring Officer’s Section 5 report, considered by Full Council at its meeting held on 26 September 2023. An associated Member question to, and response from, the Chairman of the Audit Committee had also been raised at that same meeting of Full Council. Those had set out more details around the Government’s response, which revolved around introducing statutory deadlines, by which time the accounts relating to outstanding years must be finalised.  The Chairman of the Audit Committee had also stressed the importance of the Council’s current external auditors having a focus on the 2022/23 accounts which had been a point also acknowledged by the Government and the Financial Reporting Council.  It was now important to obtain from the Council’s external auditors their own response to the Government’s recent announcements and their assurances around meeting the proposed statutory deadlines which, hopefully would see them focus on the 2022/23 statement of accounts as soon as possible.

 

Steve Bladen from BDO LLP, the Council’s external auditor attended the meeting via MS Teams and informed the Committee that there had been no progress made on the work outstanding on this Council’s 2020/2021 accounts. This was due to a combination of resource issues and a decision to prioritise outstanding NHS audits. This would mean that this Council’s audit would not be progressed much before the end of the calendar year.

 

Mr Bladen referred to the wider national issue revolving around the outstanding local government audits and stated that the National Audit Office was leading and working with all  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Report of the Internal Audit Manager - A.1 - Periodic Report on Internal Audit: June 2023 - August 2023 pdf icon PDF 196 KB

To provide the Committee with a periodic report on the Internal Audit function for the period June 2023 – August 2023, as required by the professional standards.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered a periodic report on the Internal Audit function for the period June 2023 – August 2023 and which also provided an update on the Internal Audit Charter, for approval by the Audit Committee, as required by the professional standards.

 

Members were aware that the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) required the Chief Internal Auditor (Internal Audit Manager) to make arrangements for reporting to senior management (Management Team) and to the board (Audit Committee) during the course of the year, and for producing an annual Internal Audit opinion and report that could be used to inform the Annual Governance Statement.

 

The Committee was also aware that the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 required that: “a relevant authority must undertake an effective internal audit to evaluate the effectiveness of its risk management, control and governance processes, taking into account public sector internal auditing standards or guidance”.

 

INTERNAL AUDIT PROGRESS 2023/24

 

It was reported that five audits had been completed since the last meeting of the Committee in July 2023. Four audits had received a satisfactory level of overall assurance. The other audit had been undertaken as a consultative piece of work as a lessons learned review (Jaywick Sands – Sunspot). It had now been provided to the service to contribute to future similar projects and to support any reporting arrangements required from the economic growth team.

 

The Committee was advised that a further 16 audits from the 2023/24 Internal Audit Plan had been allocated, four of which were currently at the fieldwork phase.

 

Members were made aware that Officers were currently in the ‘Key Systems’ phase of the audit plan whereby all financial and core service systems and processes were reviewed. Each area was tried and tested as they were very important to the Council’s day-to-day activities. Officers did not anticipate any significant issues in this area as historically they had been managed well; however, it was very important to ensure that those systems and processes continued to work as expected and remained well controlled.

 

Quality Assurance

 

As per the usual practice, the Internal Audit function had issued satisfaction surveys for each audit completed. In the period under review, 100% of the responses received had indicated that the auditee was satisfied with the audit work undertaken.

 

Resourcing

 

Members were reminded that Internal Audit currently had an establishment of 4 FTE posts with access to a third party provider of Internal Audit Services for specialist audit days as and when required. An Audit Technician post was currently vacant.

 

It was reported that the team had recently transferred an Apprentice from the Council’s housing department. That individual was keen to gain experience in Internal Audit and was now part of the team, training and providing much needed additional support.

 

The Committee was informed that the Internal Audit Manager had also recently taken on additional responsibilities in managing the Fraud, Risk & Compliance and Health and Safety teams whilst the Assurance and Resilience Manager was on secondment. That arrangement was expected to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

Report of the Corporate Director (Place & Economy) - A.2 - Progress On Climate Action pdf icon PDF 179 KB

To present to Members a two-year progress report on the Council’s Climate Change Action Plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Corporate Director (Place & Economy) which presented to it a two-year progress report on the Council’s Climate Change Action Plan, as had been required as part of the Audit Programme.

 

Members were reminded that the Full Council had declared a climate emergency at its meeting held on 6 August 2019, when Councillors from all parties had approved a motion on notice, submitted by former Councillor Neil Stock. The approved motion had committed this Council to preparing an action plan for consideration by Councillors with the aim of making its activities net zero carbon by 2030.

 

In November 2020, the Council had set out its plan to achieve this goal, initially covering the period to 2023. Action plan.

 

The Committee was informed that the Council had committed to become net zero by 2030 in its direct emissions (the so-called ‘scope one’ emissions) and the production of its electricity (‘scope two’ emissions). The Council was also committed to working towards reducing emissions in its supply chain (‘scope three’), which included the services it delivered via business contracts rather than directly employed staff, such as waste collection. This aspect of the plan did not have a defined target for emissions reduction.

 

It was reported that a final element of the action plan encouraged businesses and residents in the District to play their part in reducing carbon emissions.

 

The Committee was made aware that the current Action Plan ended in December 2023. A new plan was under development, building on the work of the first plan.

 

Current position

 

The Council had emitted 2,797 tonnes of carbon for scope one (internal) and scope two (electricity) emissions in the baseline year, 2018/19. In 2021/22 this had fallen to 2,245 tonnes of carbon emitted. As a result, the Council had saved 552 tonnes of carbon since the baseline year in direct emissions, which was made up from 144 tonnes of scope one (internal) emissions, and 376 tonnes from scope two, electricity.

 

Members were advised that Officers were currently converting the energy records into Carbon emission equivalent to provide data for 2022/23.

 

In addition, the Council had recorded 2,317 tonnes of carbon emissions in the baseline year of 2018/19 through its supply chain, i.e. scope three emissions. This had fallen to 2,052 tonnes by 2021/22. The majority of those emissions came from the Veolia fleet of waste vehicles, although that element had slightly increased their contribution to emissions in the period (1,404 to 1,435 tonnes).

 

The Corporate Director (Economy & Place) (Lee Heley) and the Environment Portfolio Holder (Councillor Bush) both attended the meeting and spoke to this item. They also answered Members’ questions in relation to:-

 

·      the achievability of the 2030 ‘Net Zero’ target in the light of the current level of the Council’s financial resources;

·      the Council’s progress against the ‘soft trajectory’ targets in the Action Plan and how it will meet them going forward;

·      can LUF money be used to help meet the requirements of the Action Plan;  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.