Agenda and minutes

Audit & Governance Committee
Monday, 26th March, 2018 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

Contact: Gary Woodhall (Governance Directorate)  Tel: 01992 564470 Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

48.

Webcasting Introduction

I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be recorded for subsequent repeated viewing on the Internet and copies of the recording could be made available for those that request it.

 

By being present at this meeting it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image and this will result in your image becoming part of the broadcast.

 

You should be aware that this might infringe your human and data protection rights. If you have any concerns please speak to the webcasting officer.

 

Please could I also remind members to put on their microphones before speaking by pressing the button on the microphone unit.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman made a short address to remind everyone present that the meeting would be broadcast live to the internet, and would be capable of repeated viewing, which could infringe their human and data protection rights.

49.

Declarations of Interest

(Director of Governance) To declare interests in any item on this agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest pursuant to the Member Code of Conduct.

50.

Minutes

(Director of Governance) To confirm the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on 5 February 2018 (previously circulated).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

(1)        That the minutes of the meeting held on 5 February 2018 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

51.

Matters Arising

(Director of Governance) To consider any matters arising from the previous meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no matters arising from the previous meeting for further discussion.

52.

Audit & Governance Work Programme 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 75 KB

(Director of Governance) To consider the attached Work Programme for 2017/18.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Internal Auditor reported that it was too early for the Committee to receive the Planning Letter for 2018/19 from the newly appointed External Auditor, and the report on the Corporate Fraud Team Strategy 2018/19 would now be submitted to the next meeting of the Committee due to staff sickness. It was also highlighted that the report listed as unallocated, Information Regarding the Whistle Blowing Policy, had actually been submitted to the Committee in November 2017.

53.

Effectiveness of the Arrangements for Risk Management pdf icon PDF 160 KB

(Director of Resources) To consider the attached report (AGC-019-2017/18).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Resources (Accountancy) presented a report on the effectiveness of the arrangements for Risk Management within the Council.

 

The Assistant Director reminded the Committee that its terms of reference included the consideration of the effectiveness of the Council’s Risk Management arrangements. This contrasted with the role of the Finance & Performance Management Cabinet Committee, which was to advise and make recommendations to the Cabinet on Risk Management and Insurance issues. The internal arrangements for Risk Management had not changed during the year. Each Directorate had a nominated ‘Champion’ for Risk Management who represented their Directorate at meetings of the Risk Management Group. All Directorates were required to have a section on Risk Management in their Business Plans and have a standing item regarding Risk Management on the agenda of their management team meetings. This was to ensure that Directorate Risk Registers and Action Plans were regularly monitored.

 

The Director stated that, at the corporate level, the Risk Management Group met quarterly to discuss issues and recommend alterations for the Corporate Risk Register to the Corporate Governance Group. The Corporate Governance Group considered the proposed changes from the Risk Management Group and undertook a separate review of the Corporate Risk Register to ensure that there were not any further risks for inclusion. Recommendations for updating the Corporate Risk Register were then considered by the Finance & Performance Management Cabinet Committee before being recommended for approval by the Cabinet. The key updates to the Corporate Risk Register during 2017/18 were outlined for the benefit of the Committee.

 

The Director advised the Committee that the internal audit of Risk Management in 2015/16 had been given a rating of substantial assurance. There was just one recommendation that was scored as a priority 2 and this had now been actioned. In addition, there would be an amendment to the Risk Register for Risk 1, Local Plan, to incorporate the Judicial Review and the subsequent revision of dates, plus the risk in relation to the Waste Management Contract would also be reviewed in light of the recent decision by the Chinese Government to increase the quality of imported recycled materials.

 

In respect of the Transformation Programme, the Chairman felt that a report should be submitted to the Committee on the risks to the Council from the ongoing changes at the top tiers of management and reassuring the Committee that Epping Forest was still a strong Council with strong leadership. Cllr Jennings also wanted reassurance that the newly appointed staff to the statutory positions were appropriately qualified and skilled.

 

The Assistant Director of Governance responded that the Council was still in a state of flux regarding the senior management restructure, and there would be a further report at the next meeting of the Cabinet. D Macnab was now in post as Acting Chief Executive, and the Heads of Service would replace the current Assistant Directors; it was always envisaged that the Section 151 Officer and Monitoring Officer would be at this (Head of Service)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.

54.

Internal Audit Strategy and Plan 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 157 KB

(Chief Internal Auditor) To consider the attached report (AGC-020-2017/18).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Internal Auditor presented a report on the Internal Audit Strategy and Plan for 2018/19.

 

The Chief Internal Auditor stated that the draft Audit Plan for 2017/18, and the indicative Plans for the two subsequent years (2018/19 and 2019/20) had included all of the fundamental financial systems, to provide assurance to Management and Members that there were controls in place for good financial management. The annual audit of these systems had been required by the Council’s External Auditors in the past, but this was no longer the case. The Plan also included any high risk financial areas identified by the Corporate Risk Register, plus a contingency provision for investigations and other unplanned work identified during the year, as well as references to any cross-cutting or themed audits across the shared Internal Audit Service. There was also flexibility within the Plan to accommodate reviews of areas considered to be of a high risk to the achievement of the Council’s objectives. Progress against the Plan would be monitored by the Committee, and any proposed amendments would be subject to the approval of the Committee.

 

The Chief Internal Auditor advised the Committee that the key deliverables for the Internal Audit Service during 2018/19 would be:

·        delivery of the Plan to provide sufficient audit coverage;

·        an integrated approach to assurance;

·        commitment from management to audit recommendations;

·        to develop, improve and deliver a quality service; and

·        increased business insight to establish what matters most to the Council.

 

The Chief Internal Auditor highlighted that, in November 2016, the Service underwent an External Quality Assessment, which covered all three Councils in the Shared Service, and confirmed that the Service complied with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards. An internal review at the end of 2017/18 reaffirmed this compliance. The following Service performance targets would be reported on in 2018/19:

·        achievement of the Annual Plan;

·        issue of draft and final reports;

·        management responses to audit reports and implementation of audit recommendations; and

·        continuous professional development of team members.

 

The Chief Internal Auditor reported that the following cross cutting themes had been identified as priority areas for Internal Audit work in 2018/19:

·        Change Management;

·        Information, Governance and Management, including the General Data Protection Regulation;

·        Risk Management;

·        Fraud;

·        Value for Money; and

·        Support for the Audit & Governance Committee.

 

At the operational level, the key priorities of Internal Audit work would include:

·        Transformation;

·        Analytical review of data sets such as payroll and inventories; and

·        Key financial systems.

 

The Chief Internal Auditor informed the Committee that 2017/18 had been the first year for the formal, shared Internal Audit Service between Harlow District, Broxbourne Borough and Epping Forest District Councils, with Broxbourne Borough Council becoming the host authority and employer of the shared Internal Audit Staff from 1 April 2017. A Shared Services Board had been established to oversee and implement the Shared Internal Audit Service, and to consider any major changes to the Service. Due to an internal promotion, one of the Auditor positions was currently vacant, and would be filled  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Internal Audit Monitoring Report - February to March 2018 pdf icon PDF 117 KB

(Chief Internal Auditor) To consider the attached report (AGC-021-2017/18).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Senior Internal Auditor presented the Internal Audit Monitoring report for the period February to March 2018.

 

The Senior Internal Auditor advised the Committee that good progress was being made against the Audit Plan for this year, but that the Committee was requested to approve the deferral of three audits to the Plan for next year:

 

(i)         Safeguarding – to allow the recent service re-structure to fully bed in;

 

(ii)        North Weald Airfield: Establishment – due to capacity issues within Internal Audit arsing from sickness/jury service and the Team’s involvement in preparing the Council for the General Data Protection Regulation; and

 

(iii)       Governance: St John’s Road Development – as per (b) above.

 

In addition, the Committee was requested to approve the removal of an audit regarding Anti-Social Behaviour from the Plan. The latter audit was simply to ensure that there was a consistent approach to Anti-Social Behaviour across the whole of the Council rather than any internal control concerns, and discussions with Senior Management had confirmed that this was the case. Despite the need to defer / remove these audits from the Audit Plan for this year, it was still expected that sufficient audit work would have been undertaken to enable the Chief Internal Auditor to give their annual opinion.

 

The Senior Internal Auditor informed the Committee that one report had been issued since the previous meeting, which had been given moderate assurance, on Commercial Property Service Charges. The Audit Recommendation Tracker currently contained four recommendations which had passed their due date: one high priority and one medium priority recommendation concerning Health & Safety at Townmead Depot, and two low priority recommendations regarding External Data Transfers. It was highlighted that Fire Safety Training at Town Mead Depot had been arranged for April 2018.

 

The Senior Internal Auditor reminded the Committee that staff within the Shared Service were represented on a number of business groups and project teams, in addition to less formal meetings to provide advice and guidance. The main focus of the Team’s non-audit work had been the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) across the Council, which was considered a key risk area across the whole of the Council.

 

The Senior Internal Auditor stated that the Internal Audit Service should ensure that it was compliant with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) on an annual basis. The Service was confirmed as being fully compliant with the Standards by an external assessor, and this remained the case as there had been no significant changes to the delivery or operation of the Service nor the role of the Chief Internal Auditor.

 

The Senior Internal Auditor updated the Committee on the current status of the Service’s Performance Indicators, as well as the recent review of the significant issues identified in the 2016/17 Annual Governance Statement.

 

In respect of the Commercial Property Service Charges audit report, the Chief Internal Auditor reminded the Committee that many of the Council’s commercial properties did not have Service Charges as there were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.

56.

Any Other Business

Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972 requires that the permission of the Chairman be obtained, after prior notice to the Chief Executive, before urgent business not specified in the agenda (including a supplementary agenda of which the statutory period of notice has been given) may be transacted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Vice-Chairman took the opportunity to extend his gratitude and best wishes to C O’Boyle and B Palmer, the former Directors of Governance and Resources, for all the assistance and guidance that they had provided during the Vice-Chairman’s time on the Committee. The Committee wholeheartedly agreed with the comments of the Vice-Chairman.

57.

Exclusion of Public and Press

Exclusion:

To consider whether, under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press should be excluded from the meeting for the items of business set out below on grounds that they will involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the following paragraph(s) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act (as amended) or are confidential under Section 100(A)(2):

 

Agenda Item No

Subject

Exempt Information Paragraph Number

Nil

Nil

Nil

 

The Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, which came into effect on 1 March 2006, requires the Council to consider whether maintaining the exemption listed above outweighs the potential public interest in disclosing the information. Any member who considers that this test should be applied to any currently exempted matter on this agenda should contact the proper officer at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

 

Background Papers: 

Article 17 of the Constitution (Access to Information) define background papers as being documents relating to the subject matter of the report which in the Proper Officer's opinion:

 

(a)        disclose any facts or matters on which the report or an important part of the report is based;  and

 

(b)        have been relied on to a material extent in preparing the report and does not include published works or those which disclose exempt or confidential information and in respect of executive reports, the advice of any political advisor.

 

The Council will make available for public inspection one copy of each of the documents on the list of background papers for four years after the date of the meeting. Inspection of background papers can be arranged by contacting either the Responsible Officer or the Democratic Services Officer for the particular item.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that there was no business which necessitated the exclusion of the public and press from the meeting.