Agenda and minutes

Governance and Audit Committee
Thursday, 21st June, 2018 2.00 pm

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

Contact: Anita Eckersley 

Items
No. Item

1.

Membership

2.

Apologies

3.

Disclosure of interests

4.

Minutes of the meeting held on 22 March 2018 pdf icon PDF 197 KB

5.

Updates from previous meeting

    Minutes:

    The Chairman noted that the Financial Outturn was an item on the agenda and that Right To Buy would also be covered later on the agenda. It was also noted that a report in respect of the boiler issues and the gas company would be brought to the meeting on 25 July 2018.

6.

Internal Audit: Progress Report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

    Report of RSM

    (Enclosed)

    Minutes:

    Amjad Ali Manager from RSM presented the Internal Audit Progress Report. He informed Members that the annual audit plan had been completed. The report provided details of three assignments: Health and Safety (Reasonable Assurance); Right to Buy (Reasonable Assurance) and Corporate Governance (Substantial Assurance).  The impact of all three on the annual opinion was positive. Actions had been raised and agreed with Management. 

     

    The Health and Safety assignment: Testing had identified four medium and four low priority findings but management actions had been agreed.

     

    The four medium findings were:

     

    Three of the ten contractor cases tested had identified there were no Competency Evaluation Records on the files and there was no evidence to confirm that risk assessments had been undertaken.

     

    A register of approved contractors was in place but on testing, it was found to be on the Council’s old intranet site, not easily accessible and no-one assigned to update or maintain it.

     

    In respect of the monitoring of contractors, there was no evidence on file to confirm the monitoring of the contractor’s health and safety arrangements for six of the ten contractors tested.

     

    Four cases out of the 10 contractors from both Property and Development and Responsive Repairs chosen for testing had found that asbestos information had not been made available to the contractor.

     

    The Committee was informed that it could not be assumed that because there was no evidence the highlighted issues had been undertaken, it was about there being no evidence to show the tasks highlighted had been carried out.  Management actions had been agreed.

     

    The report provided more detail on the impact of the findings to date for the Right to Buy and Corporate Strategy.

     

    The Right to Buy assignment: As a result of testing, four medium and four low priority findings had been identified.  Management actions had been agreed.

     

    On testing it was found that the Council had no specific policy for the operation and administration of the Right To Buy scheme. Legislation was implemented correctly but because there was no policy, no restrictions were being imposed. This meant that no properties were excluded from the Right To Buy Scheme.

     

    Members commented that a review of the Right to Buy Scheme should be undertaken at the earliest opportunity.

     

     

    The Corporate Governance assignment: One medium finding and one low priority finding had been identified.  Management actions had been agreed.

     

    The medium priority findings related to the compliance with the Transparency Code 2015.  The Government required local authorities to publish certain data sets for public scrutiny. The data sets included details of purchases over £500, social housing assets and senior salaries.  After testing a sample of 12 data sets it had been identified that only six had been published on the Council’s website.

     

    There were no outstanding reviews. Following discussions with management it had been agreed to remove the four continuous assurance reviews from the Internal Audit Plan.  Four advisory reviews had been included in the audit plan for 2017/18. Housing Benefits Overpayments, Complaints and Freedom of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Internal Audit: Annual Report 2017/2018 pdf icon PDF 502 KB

    Report of RSM

    (Enclosed)

    Minutes:

    Amjad Ali Manager from RSM presented the Annual Internal Audit Report and Opinion 2017/18. Under the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards, the Head of Internal Audit was required to provide an annual opinion on the overall adequacy and effectiveness of the Council’s risk management, control and governance processes.

     

    The Positive opinion detailed within the RSM report found that the Council had an adequate and effective framework for risk management, governance and internal control. A few enhancements to the framework would be required to ensure the framework remained adequate and effective. The opinion was based on the findings and conclusions from the work undertaken, the scope of which had been agreed with management.Actions had been agreed with management.

     

    During 2017/18 the following advisory reviews had been undertaken:

     

    ·       Housing Benefits Overpayments

    ·       Complaints and Freedom of Information

    ·       Purchasing Cards

    ·       GDPR Readiness Review

    ·       Review of Contractor Spend

     

    A full summary including the conclusions was provided at Appendix B of the report.

     

    Appendix A of the report provided further information on the Annual Opinions.

     

    In response to a query about why the overall opinion had been reduced, the Committee was informed that the highlighted advisory reviews had been requested by management. This evidenced a sound open and transparent working relationship with the auditors. The opinion may be down from last year but there had been significant changes throughout the year.  These changes had been monitored with any potential issues immediately being highlighted by management with the auditors in order that the Council could ensure continued awareness of potential risks moving forward.

     

    The Committee acknowledged the positive attitude and awareness in resolving issues as they arose and how it safeguarded the Council.

     

    The Committee noted the contents of the report.

8.

Internal Audit: Follow up 1 (Final) pdf icon PDF 156 KB

    Report of RSM

    (Enclosed)

    Minutes:

    Amjad Ali Manager from RSM presented the Internal Audit Follow-up report which reviewed progress made against management actions arising from audits. Three “medium” and nine “low” actions were included in the follow-up report, all of which had been implemented, leading to an audit opinion that good progress had been made. Following the implementation of the actions the outcome was “Reasonable Assurance”.

     

    A discussion took place around the actions detailed in the Internal Audit Report following the Internal Audit on Cyber security.

     

    In response to a query regarding IT equipment, the Deputy Leader explained that the rollout of laptops to staff had been delayed due to variances in the current technology.  The rollout would be undertaken during the next couple of months.

     

    The Committee noted the contents of the report.

9.

Financial Outturn 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 175 KB

    Report CFM459 of the Cabinet Member for Finance.

    (Enclosed)

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Decision:

     

    That the Governance and Audit Committee

     

    1.     Approves the Revenue and Capital Outturn report and associated appendices for 2017/18.

    2.     Approves the set-asides and reserve movements as detailed in report number CFM459.

    3.     Approves the Capital slippages from the 2017/18 Capital Programme as detailed in report number CFM459.

     

    The Assistant Director for Resources presented report number CFM459 which detailed the Council’s Revenue and Capital outturn for 2017/18 for both the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account (HRA). It provided commentary on the outturn position for both accounts and the reserves statement. The Committee was also asked to consider proposed set-asides and slippages in the 2017/18 Capital Programme.

     

    Commentary was also provided on the review of reserves and key variances against budgeted levels, which included unexpected costs and income, and savings and efficiencies achieved.

     

    The original base budget for 2017/18 had been approved by Council on 2 March 2017 for both the capital and revenue budgets including General Fund and the Housing Revenue Account. Additional supplementary estimates had also been approved by Council during the year, which had amended the budget framework. 

     

    The Quarter 3 forecast outturn position had been reported to Growth Overview and Scrutiny on 14 February 2018 and noted the forecast variance on the net budget requirement was set at £612K. The outturn position was less overall due to a number of forecast expenditure assumptions that had not materialised. Details of the significant variances were detailed at 2.6 of the report. 

     

    Other changes had also significantly improved the overall position during Quarter 4 such as additional interest income earned through investment of increased cash balances as a result of slippage on the capital programme.

     

    There had also been an increase in business rates income as a result of the upward revaluation impact that took effect from April 2017.  This had not been included in the original budget.  Additional business rates pooling arising from the 60% retention of the local growth above the baseline level had also benefitted the Council. This had meant that no funds were required to be transferred from the business rates volatility reserve at year end, which left a higher than anticipated balance on the reserve.

     

    There had been an increase in central support costs of £340k charged to the Housing Revenue Account as a result of an in-year increase in support service costs.  A number of grants received late in the financial year had been removed in order to accurately present the actual outturn position. The specific details of the grants were shown at table 2 in the report.

     

    Table 3 in the report provided more detail on the key variances. The Big Clean had an under-spend and had achieved positive spend levels. Funding for the food waste trial had been received in Q4 but would be used in 2018/19.

     

    The St Peter’s Hill Development Project had an under-spend of £3.934m due to a re-profiling of the delivery of the project. The original 2017/18 budget forecast of £4.030m had been incorporated into the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Draft Statement of Accounts 2017/2018 pdf icon PDF 120 KB

    Report CFM461 of the Cabinet Member for Finance.

    (Enclosed)

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Assistant Director for Resources presented the draft Statement of Accounts for 2017/18 together with the Annual Governance Statement which was appended to report CFM461. Members were advised that the report covered, the Account and Audit Regulations 2015; Section 21(2) Local Government Act 2003, Statement of Accounts, Commentary on the financial statements and the Annual Governance Statement 2017/18.

     

    Reference was made to the changes to the budget framework and the requirement for the draft accounts to be completed by 31 May 2018. The Statement of Accounts had to be approved by the officer with responsibility for the Council’s governance and financial affairs (s151 Officer) by 31 May 2018. This had been undertaken. The external audit took place immediately after the accounts had been approved by the s151 Officer. The draft accounts were being presented to the Governance and Audit Committee for review before the external audit was completed.

     

    The final accounts would be presented to the next meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee on 25 July for signing prior to the Statement of Accounts being published on 31 July 2018.  The District Auditor would need to have completed his audit and have issued the relevant audit opinion to ensure the statutory deadlines were met.

     

    The Annual Governance Statement had been signed by both the Leader and the Chief Executive.

     

    The accounting policies reviewed and updated and approved by the Committee at their meeting on 22March 2018 had been used in the compilation of the 2017/18 Statement of Accounts. No material changes had been required and the 2017/18 accounts followed a similar format to the 2016/17 accounts.

     

    The prime statement included:

     

    ·         Movement in Reserves Statement – This statement provided an overview of changes that had occurred in the Council’s reserves during the year along with the reconciled movements back to the Comprehensive Income & Expenditure Statement.

     

    ·         Expenditure and Funding Analysis – This provided an overview and enabled transparency and understanding of the accounts. The analysis also outlined to council tax and rent payers how the available funding the Council had for the year had been used for providing services in comparison to resources earned by the Council. It also provided an overview of how expenditure was allocated for decision making purposes.

     

    ·         Comprehensive Income & Expenditure Statement (CIES) – This reported on the income and expenditure and followed the same format as the Council’s in-year reporting structure.

     

    ·         Balance Sheet – This referred to the financial position of the Council at the end of the reported financial year.

     

    ·         Cash Flow Statement – This provided a summary of cash flow in and out of the Council’s bank accounts during the financial year.

     

    The Committee acknowledged the work and achievements of the team to ensure the accounts had been completed bearing in mind the deadline had been brought forward.

     

    The Committee, having considered the draft Statement and the Annual Governance Statement, were satisfied that they provided a true and fair reflection of the financial year 2017/18 and looked forward to receiving the final accounts for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Risk Management and Business Continuity Annual Report 2017/18 including Corporate Risk Register update pdf icon PDF 121 KB

    Report CFM460 of the Cabinet Member for Finance.

    (Enclosed)

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Report number CFM460 of the Cabinet Member for Finance was the Risk Management Annual Report for 2017/18 and included the corporate risk register and the business continuity annual report covering the same period. The corporate risk register gave a strategic overview of risks that affected the Council.  Risks that were more operational were recorded on a business risk register that was maintained by officers. The annual report was provided to ensure that members had knowledge of the risks faced by the authority and could be confident that action was being taken to mitigate them.

     

    The Risk Management Group consisted of all Heads of Service or representatives and other key officers and met quarterly to discuss issues relating to risk management, internal audit, insurance, counter fraud, governance, business continuity and safeguarding. 

     

    In March 2018 a refresh exercise of service risks was undertaken and looked at whether all the previous risks identified were still relevant, whether those risks were being managed and what controls were in place and if there were any emerging risks that needed to be included. The review covered both the ‘business as usual’ and ‘exceptional’ risks. No exceptional risks had been identified as part of the exercise.

     

    The Corporate Risk Register was last approved by the Committee in December 2017 but since then a fundamental review by Assistant Directors with external expertise from RSM had been undertaken.  The Corporate Risk Register had been updated and was attached to the report as Appendix A.  The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations was also included.

     

    The risk “Ensuring effectiveness of contingency plans/recovery plans for key locations/systems” had now been removed from the Corporate Risk Register following a significant review. 

     

    The Committee was informed that Risk 4 relating to “Identifying, recruiting, retaining and developing key skills/professions to deliver the transformational priorities”, had been updated to reflect the risk around successfully achieving the level of change that the Council Leaders and stakeholders felt would be required to move forward. Change would create a new culture and outlook that would be “agile” and “outcome focussed”. 

     

    A review of Business Continuity Plans (BCP) had also been undertaken using a new Business Impact Assessment form. Service managers had been asked to complete Business Impact Assessments for 42 individual teams. The outcome of the review determined there were a number of critical service areas with a recovery time objective of 48 hours or less. The Corporate Level Business Continuity Plan and the SKDC Business Continuity Strategy were also reviewed.  An internal audit of Business Continuity was undertaken in August 2017 which gave reasonable assurance that controls were in place to manage the risk.  The Council had to ensure that it was able to deliver statutory functions by prioritising the order of services to be delivered whilst being aware and in a position to assist the most vulnerable.  IT business continuity was key for continuous service delivery and during 2017/18 considerable work had been undertaken to improve continuity for any scenario. To assist recovery times,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Health and Safety Annual Report 2017/2018 pdf icon PDF 100 KB

    Report No. ENV697 of the Cabinet Member for Environment.

    (Enclosed)

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Environment presented the Health and Safety Annual Report 2017/18 which was attached to report number ENV697. The report summarised the progress made during the year and identified key areas of focus to maintain and improve health and safety performance.  There had been no significant changes in performance. Accident levels had increased partly in line with staff number increases in higher risk areas, and partly due to an initiative to ensure accidents were reported.

     

    Any reported accident that occurred was followed up and the corporate health and safety team worked with business managers to put actions in place to prevent accidents recurring. Performance was also monitored through management team meetings so Health and Safety was recognised as an ongoing priority.

     

    Due to an increase of temporary staff numbers over a 12 week period in respect of the Big Clean Project, a number of minor incidents had occurred.  Temporary staff had been provided with Health and Safety Training and were encouraged to be more vigilant. Other areas where the main accidents happened were Street Scene/ Waste cycling, Driving and incidents of falling over.  Where there was public interaction such as at leisure centres there was a lower rate of accidents.

     

    The key areas of focus for the following year would be developing a health and safety culture, undertaking more risk assessments, improving accident and incident reporting, better management of third parties and revisiting the Council’s Health and Safety Policy.

     

    The report gave a breakdown of reported accidents at the leisure centres.  Accident information from those sites was supplied by 1Life each month as part of the contract monitoring arrangements. Each health and safety report they submitted included a narrative explaining the context for those accidents that had occurred.

     

    In response to a query about why the number of minor accidents had increased the committee was informed that the majority of minor incidents had been to do with the Big Clean as well as an increase in reporting activity.

     

    Members queried why the accidents types for Street Scene had been 0 in 2016/17 but 5 incidents had been reported in 2017/18.  It was noted that these were minor incidents such as walking into road signs and an increase in reporting incidents.

     

    Further discussion took place around the number of reported incidents in the Deepings and whether it was due to a higher usage of facilities by schools, better reporting incidents or being more accident prone; whether the accidents for contractors such as the gas company were monitored.  It was noted that that once the new leisure facilities had been delivered incidents should reduce with better facilities. Training was provided regularly and a presentation wasto be sent out to all team leaders regarding health and safety which would include identifying their roles and responsibilities, recognising hazards and trying to simplify the mystery behind dealing with health and safety issues.  This presentation would then need to be cascaded to all staff.

     

    Members were also asked to be vigilant and proactive  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Safeguarding Annual Report 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

    Report LDS280 of the Cabinet Member for Communities, Health, Wellbeing and Skills.

    (Enclosed)

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Community Engagement and Policy Development Officer presented report LDS280 which provided the Committee with a background to the Council’s safeguarding responsibilities, its contribution to local partnerships, national initiatives and its involvement in reviews and statutory assessment programmes during 2017/18. This was in accordance with Article 11 of the Council’s Constitution. This was the first time this report had been brought to Committee.

     

    The 2017/18 Safeguarding Annual Report was attached as an appendix to the report. The District Council had a general duty of care and had to undertake statutory requirements in relation to the safeguarding of both children and adults. The general responsibilities were to report incidents or concerns to the responsible authority which in this case was Lincolnshire County Council and to work with other agencies to ensure the welfare of children and vulnerable adults. The Safeguarding Annual Report set out these duties and highlighted how safeguarding was a Council-wide responsibility.

     

    With the introduction of the Care Act in 2014 Adult Protection changed, Lincolnshire County Council established the statutory Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board (LSAB).  The aim was to ensure the effective co-ordination of services to safeguard and promote the welfare of adults, in accordance with the Care Act 2014, Making Safeguarding Personal and Care and Support statutory guidance 2014.

     

    South Kesteven District Council had developed a combined policy that was user friendly and outlined the procedures for Child Protection, Adult Protection and Domestic Abuse. The Council made 12 safeguarding referrals during 2016/17.  Four referrals related to children and young people. The concerns were raised by officers from community-facing services and related to neglect, substance misuse in the family home, domestic abuse and a historical accusation of child abuse.

     

    Incidents relating to adults had been raised by officers from Property Services, Customer Services, Housing, Neighbourhoods and Responsive Housing Repairs. Some of the incidences were self-neglect / alcohol misuse / hoarding, personal safety/signs of dementia, neglect, threatening suicide and possible domestic abuse.   Not all referrals met safeguarding thresholds and therefore were not assigned to social workers. In these instances alternative means of support through/with appropriate partner agencies was put in place to support the individual and their family. 

     

    Statutory membership of an Adult Safeguarding Board included Lincolnshire County Council, Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Police. District Authorities were described as ‘useful partners’ within the Care Act.

     

    Statutory partners of a Safeguarding Children Board were:

     

    ·     District Councils

    ·     The chief officer of Police

    ·     The National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies

    ·     The Youth Offending Team

    ·     NHS England and the Clinical Commissioning Groups

    ·     NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts (all or most of whose hospitals, establishments and facilities are situated in the local authority area)

    ·     Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service)

    ·     The governor or director of any secure training centre in the area of the authority

    ·     The governor or director of any prison in the area of the authority which ordinarily detains children

    ·     Two lay members

     

    Regular training was provided for Members and staff in respect of Safeguarding and Prevent.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Close of the Meeting