Agenda and minutes

Audit & Governance Committee
Monday, 28th January, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping

Contact: Democratic Services Manager  Tel: 01992 564243 Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

35.

Webcasting Introduction

This meeting is to be webcast. The Chairman will read the following announcement:

 

I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet (or filmed) and will be capable of repeated viewing (or another use by third parties).

 

If you are seated in the lower public seating area then it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image and this will result in the possibility that your image will become part of the broadcast.

 

This may infringe your human and data protection rights and if you wish to avoid this then you should move to the upper public gallery.

 

Could I please also remind Members to activate their microphones before speaking”.

 

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.

36.

Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda for the meeting of the Committee.

 

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Minutes:

Ms N Nanayakkara declared a personal interest in an item that mentions the ONS and for completeness she declared that she was a non executive director at the UK Statistics Authority  which oversees the ONS. Ms Nanayakkara had determined that her interest was not prejudicial and indicated that she would remain in the meeting for the consideration of the report.

37.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 92 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 26 November 2018.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 26 November 2018 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

38.

Matters Arising

To consider any matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting of the Committee.

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Minutes:

The Chairman noted that the Committee had asked for more information on resourcing and they would be looking for information on this in the reports coming to the Committee in the future and would be looking for some resolution to the resourcing problem to come out in the reports.

39.

Audit & Governance Committee - Work Programme pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To consider the attached work programme for the Committee for 2018/19.

 

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Minutes:

The Committee noted that for this meeting the internal progress reports included the review of corporate governance and the review of the internal audit charter.

 

Councillor Knapman asked members about their work programme and their ability to carry it out. The Chief Internal Auditor said that the reports were timetabled for the coming year but this did not stop the Committee asking for any ad-hoc reports and the listed reports were the standard ones that you would expect to come to an audit committee.

 

Ms Nanayakkara asked what would be the best way to feed in suggestions or input for consideration for the 2019/20 work programme. The Chief Internal Auditor said that she would be happy to have them sent to her and she would liaise with Democratic Services to include it in the work programme. The Chairman also indicated that he would ask members for suggestions for inclusion in the work programme.

 

Councillor Lion suggested that it would be useful to put an item in the Council Bulletin on the work programme so that members would have an idea of what work was going to the Committee especially now that the Council was going through a management reorganisation.  Councillor Knapman was happy that this be put into the Bulletin so any members with any comments or suggestions could get in touch.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)       That an item be included in the Council Bulletin to publicise the Committee’s work programme for the coming year;

 

(2)       That members forward suggestions for inclusion the 2019/20 work programme to the Chief Internal Auditor; and

 

(3)       That the Chairman ask members for suggestions for inclusion in the work programme via the Council Bulletin.

40.

Internal Audit Monitoring Report - December 2018 to January 2019 pdf icon PDF 150 KB

To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the internal audit monitoring report for December 2018 to January 2019. The report updated members on the work completed by the Internal Audit Shared Service and the Corporate Fraud Team since November 2018 and contained details of audit activity to be undertaken in the current year.  Members were advised that the annual Internal Audit report would be made to the Committee in June 2019 and that Internal Audit was using a contractor to deliver much of the outstanding work, although some audits were being undertaken in-house.

 

Also included at the request of the Committee, was a copy of the risk register that had been considered by the Finance and Performance Management Cabinet Committee.  An assurance map completed by Internal Audit was also presented to the Committee, which the Chief Internal Auditor said had been a very useful exercise, as it demonstrated the three tiers of defence for managing risk. The first tier was operational control including line manager oversight; the second was to have more independent assurance mechanisms happening within the Council; and lastly the third tier was having a totally independent system of assurance such as internal auditors, external auditors and use of consultants.

 

As for the internal audit reports issued since the last meeting, it was noted that the following had been issued: 1) Systems access and mobile working – substantial assurance; 2) Council Tax and Business Rates – substantial assurance, there were a few minor inconsistencies but these had been picked up already; and 3) Staff Code of Conduct and Gifts & Hospitality (Staff and Members) – Moderate Assurance, which included a high level overview of the Code. It was noted that the area of gifts and hospitality needed to be strengthened and also that there would be a move to electronic registration as unfortunately, one of the paper copies for one directorate had been misplaced.

 

Ms Nanayakkara noted that, in relation to mobile working, the report indicated that the accommodation review should not delay the implementation of this programme. The Chief Internal Auditor replied that, at the time of the audit taking place, the Council was going through the first phase of the management restructure and, as a result, progress had stalled slightly. The Committee was advised that the mobile working initiative was now moving forward.

 

Ms Nanayakkara addressed the gifts and hospitality report noting that the Council would like to have an electronic registration system. It was considered worrying that such a basic requirement had not been fulfilled because a paper registration had been lost and she endorsed the introduction of an electronic register as quickly as possible. She then suggested that the committee might want to consider an annual review of gifts and hospitality policy as she had seen it included in audit committee agendas elsewhere as a rolling check. The Chief Internal Auditor said that this was something that should be considered.

 

Councillor Knapman said that there was the feeling that the Committee should support the suggested electronic register but there  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

Treasury Management Strategy Statement pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Report to Follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the annual Treasury Management Strategy Statement report, a requirement of the CIPFA Code of Practice on Treasury Management. It covered the treasury activity for the financial year 2019/20.

 

The Council’s treasury activities were strictly regulated by statutory requirements and a professional code of practice (the CIPFA Code of Practice on Treasury Management), which included the requirement for determining a treasury strategy on the likely financing and investment activity for the forthcoming year.

 

The appendix attached to the report showed the Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2019/20 in accordance with the revised CIPFA Treasury Management Code and the revised Prudential Code.

 

The Principal Accountant, Mr Bell, noted that the Council still continued to reduce its balances to fund the Capital Programme enabling the Council to save money by not borrowing; this strategy would remain as is for the near future. He noted that table 2 had changed slightly. This gave a benchmark on how much headroom there was to fund capital projects or capital expenditure into the future.

 

Recently the Council has had advice from their treasury advisors giving an insight on what was going on in high level talks on Brexit and the reduction of balances required to retain our professional status. CIPFA was also progressing on the new paper to tackle the issues surrounding local authority borrowing in advance of the need to fund the purchase of investment properties.

 

Councillor Knapman asked about the borrowing risk indicated in the report and the plan to reduce our borrowing indicated in the table on page 4 of the agenda. He indicated the last item ‘major repairs reserve’ which clearly showed big changes, could this be explained. The Chief Finance Officer, Mr Maddock said that the figure quoted was internal borrowing, the general fund borrowing from the HRA. It showed that revenue was fairly constant over the period at about £14 to 15million. As time goes on they will be trying to bring the major repairs reserve balance down a little, traditionally it had high balances, supplemented with revenue contributions from the HRA. It was a balancing act using money from the repairs reserve and the Housing Revenue Account; overall spending on revenue and capital was fairly constant over the period.

 

Councillor Knapman commented that this was more of a strategic decision. He then asked about Luxembourg and why  was this a good place to invest. The Principal Accountant said that this was one of our money market funds with Standard Life Investments, which was bought out by Aberdeen Investments who are mainly based in Luxembourg, so that’s why it’s there. Councillor Knapman asked if we were confident that Luxembourg was a safe haven. He was told that it was, but officers were also looking to diversify the funds balances.

 

The Chairman said that the Committee was generally satisfied with the report but added that the Committee would like any future reports provided in good time and not as a supplementary.

 

Ms Nanayakkara asked what happened if the UK came  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.

42.

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:

No other business was raised for consideration by the Committee.