Agenda and minutes

Governance and Audit Committee
Thursday, 24th September, 2015 2.00 pm

Venue: Witham Room - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions

Contact: Jo Toomey 

Items
No. Item

22.

Membership

23.

Disclosure of interests

24.

Minutes of the meeting held on 28 July 2015

25.

Updates from previous meeting

    Minutes:

    Update on Visual Tree Surveys

     

    Visual tree surveys had been completed as part of the grounds maintenance contract of those areas for which the Council had responsibility:

     

    • Verges – The Council cut the grass on behalf of the Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) and any tree matters reported direct to LCC

     

    ·         Open Spaces and parks – As necessary the Council had completed tree felling or pollarding to mitigate any risk

     

    ·         Housing Revenue Account – Estates inspectors carried out inspections during their visits and updated records accordingly - Any urgent works had been completed to mitigate risk with a specialist tree contractor being brought in if necessary.

     

    A Member asked if the Council had a tree replacement policy. No policy was in place but a new tree guidance plan was currently being devised.

     

    Members expressed concern with the collection of litter before the grass was cut in parks (including glass bottles) as they had heard of instances where the grass had been cut and the paper and glass shards had just been left.  

     

    Update on Repairs

     

    Explanation was given to members on how void properties were brought back into use and the checks that had to be completed. Officers were looking at opportunities to reduce the time between the occupants returning the key and the house being brought back for letting. A performance template was used and reviewed regularly with staff to identify areas of good practice and areas for improvement.

     

    The Repairs service dealt with two types of responsive repairs, those that telephoned in by tenants and those arising from properties that had become void. Members were informed that repairs operatives had a personal digital assistant (PDA) that would update them on new jobs and allow them to plan the stock that they needed to carry.

     

    The Business Manager – Responsive Housing Repairs explained how gas safety was key to how the Council managed housing standards. The Council used contractors for assessing the properties. Members were reassured that subcontractors were monitored through monthly meetings. Members were further informed that the Council was 100% compliant with the Rights of Repairs.

     

    Letting of retail units in the Bourne Core area

     

    A member asked for clarity about the number of retail units that had been let in the Bourne Core Area. The Executive Manager, Property replied that of the seven units only two remained unlet.

     

    The original concept behind the units was providing accommodation for niche businesses, start-ups and businesses new to Bourne. The Member had further questions to which the Executive Manager indicated he would speak to him outside the meeting.

     

    Reconciliation between Finance and Planning

     

    Following a recommendation made by the Committee at its meeting on 25 June 2015, the Corporate Finance Manager informed Membersthat monthly reconciliation between Finance and Planning was now undertaken.

26.

Annual Governance Report

    KPMG will present its Annual Governance Report for 2014/15.  (Enclosure)

    Minutes:

    Representatives from KPMG presented and summarised key messages from their Annual Governance Report for the year 2014/15. Members noted that External Audit anticipated issuing an unqualified audit opinion by 30 September 2015. This could only be issued following receipt of a signed management representation letter and the sign-off of the Statement of Accounts 2014/15. As part of the audit of the authority’s financial statements, KPMG did not identify any material adjustments however one non-material misstatement required adjustments to it to ensure compliance with the ‘Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in the United Kingdom 2014/15’.

     

    External Audit also reported that the Annual Governance Statement was compliant with ‘Delivering Good Governance in Local Government: A Framework’, which was published by CIPFA/SOLACE and that it was not inconsistent with information received as a part of the audit of financial statements. The Committee was asked to approve this with the Statement of Accounts.

     

    The External Audit Plan 2014/15 that was presented to the Committee in March 2015 did not identify any risk areas. Following the completion of the external audit work two recommendations had been railed. These related to the plant, property and equipment valuation date and consideration of a review of the accounting policy for non-enhancing HRA capital expenditure.

     

    In accordance with ISA 260, KPMG reported on qualitative aspects of the authority’s accounting practices and financial report, together with the process for preparing the accounts and support for the audit. KPMG found that the authority had maintained strong financial reporting processes and considered the accounting practices appropriate. A complete set of draft accounts was presented on 26 June 2015, the quality of working papers was good and officers responded to queries in a reasonable time. The report also included KPMG’s declaration of independence and objectivity (also a requirement of ISA 260).

     

    External Audit was also required to give an opinion on two value for money criteria around securing financial resilience and securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness. KPMG concluded that the authority had made proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources and anticipated issuing an unqualified opinion to this end.

     

    Members’ attention was drawn to an item which related to untaken holiday. It was explained that this was a non-material uncorrected audit difference which had been acknowledged by management.

27.

Statement of Accounts 2014/15

    Report number CFM338 of the Strategic Director and the Corporate Finance Manager.  (Enclosure)

     

    Minutes:

    The Corporate Finance Manager presented report number CFM 338 on the Statement of Accounts 2014/15. An addendum had been circulated to Committee members, which provided an amendment that had been made since the papers had been issued.

     

    The Financial Accountant Team Leader briefly explained the key amendments that been made, all of which were explained fully either in report CFM 338 or shown in the addendum that was circulated at the meeting.

     

    Committee members noted the amendments that had been made and the recommendations in report number CFM 338, together with the amendment contained in the addendum.

     

    It was noted that thanks were given to the Corporate Finance Manager and his team, and to the External Auditor, Tony Crawley, for the work he has done over the past six years.

     

    DECISION:

     

    The Governance and Audit Committee

    1. Approved the revised Statement of Accounts 2014/15

    2. Noted  the commentary on the outcome of the audit work

    3. Approved the publication on the summary of accounts and publish the document on the Council’s website

    4. Approved the letter of representation as circulation at the meeting

28.

Internal Audit Progress Report

    Report number CFM341 by the Corporate Finance Manager.     (Enclosure)

    Minutes:

    The Corporate Finance Manager introduced report number CFM334 on the progress report summarising internal audit activity between 11 July 2015 and 7 September 2015. Colleagues from Baker Tilly presented their report. During the period four audits had been completed on aids and adaptations, waste and recycling – inventory and stock, voids management and disposal of surplus equipment. The audit of aids and adaptations was given an amber-green opinion while the other three audits were given a green opinion. Recommendations made in respect of all audits had been accepted by management. It was explained that no high priority actions arose from the audits but there were 7 medium and 8 low priority actions.

     

    It was explained that the audit plan was half-way through for this year and was on track for meeting its time scale end date.

     

    Members noted from the report that significant progress had been made in regard to the Waste and Recycling audit, which had improved from an amber-red opinion last year to a green opinion.

     

    Members sought reassurance that quality of potential contractors formed part of the tender evaluation for checking void properties for asbestos.

     

    Further discussion was undertaken on turnaround time for void properties.

     

    The Committee noted the report.

29.

Risk Management Framework

    Report number CFM323 by the Corporate Finance Manager.     (Enclosure)

    Minutes:

    (Councillor Kelham Cooke left the meeting at 15:31)

     

    The Corporate Finance Manager presented report number CFM323 on the risk management and strategy update. The report provided a summary of the Risk Management Governance Framework.

     

    Members were informed that the framework provided details of the risk environment in which the Council operated and the controls and mechanisms that were in place to ensure that risk was sufficiently managed by officers and members. Time had been taken to seek out best practice from other authorities (based on CIPFA recommendations) and to also ensure that the framework complied with ISO 31000 (International Standard for Risk Management) and the latest published risk management standards.

     

    DECISION:

     

    The Governance and Audit Committee has reviewed and approved the updated Risk Management Framework.

30.

Health and Safety Annual Report 2014/15

    Report number ENV630 by the Executive Manager, Environment.   (Enclosure)

    Minutes:

    The Executive Manager, Environment introduced the Health and Safety Annual Report (ENV630) 2014/15. After analysing accident data from SKDC’s partner for leisure centres (OneLife) it was clear that like for like comparisons could not be sensibly made. The overall position on the level of accidents shown in the report was no cause for concern. The Executive Manager and Corporate Health and Safety Officer introduced the annual report which set out progress with the further development of corporate health and safety, confirming ongoing improvements to existing good practice. Proposed actions for 2015/16 were detailed in the report. No issues or trends of major concern were reported.

     

    Discussion ensued around the figures within the report and on the effects of sickness leave.

     

    The Committee reviewed the Corporate Health and Safety Annual Report and were satisfied with it.

31.

Ombudsman Annual Report 2014/15

    Report number LDS159 of the Executive Manager, Corporate.   (Enclosure)

    Minutes:

    The Committee noted report LDS159, which incorporated the Ombudsman Annual Review Letter for 2014/15. The Ombudsman had received twenty two complaints and enquiries about the Council. During the reporting period seven were referred to and dealt with by this Council as referrals from the Ombudsman. Of those seven complaints, two were satisfied through the Council’s complaints process. Of the remaining 5 complaints made, the Ombudsman made no findings of fault by the Council.

    Members raised questions regarding the complaint process.

     

    Members noted the contents of the Ombudsman Annual Review Letter for the period 1st April 2014 to the 31 March 2015.

32.

Close of meeting