Agenda and minutes

Governance and Audit Committee
Wednesday, 25th September, 2019 2.00 pm

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

Contact: Democratic Services 

Items
No. Item

18.

Membership

19.

Apologies

20.

Disclosure of interests

21.

Minutes of the meeting held on 26 July 2019 pdf icon PDF 188 KB

    Minutes:

    The minutes of the meeting held on 26 July 2019 were noted as a correct record, subject to the amendment that an additional note be included under item 15 stating that Councillor Woolley had abstained from the vote regarding the Statement of Accounts and Annual Governance Statement, as she had not had sufficient opportunity to consider the corresponding information.

22.

Updates from previous meeting

    Minutes:

    Under item 16 of the previous meeting, it had been recommended that arrangements were made for the Committee to receive training in respect of treasury management by the Council’s treasury advisors. Members were advised that this training had been arranged for 18 December 2019, preceding the next Governance and Audit Committee meeting.

23.

External Audit- Value for Money opinion pdf icon PDF 449 KB

    Report of the District Auditor.

    Minutes:

    John Gregory from Grant Thornton was in attendance to present the External Audit report; ‘The Value-for-Money Audit Findings for South Kesteven District Council’. Mr Gregory explained that the deferral of the report from the previous Committee meeting had been due to the unfortunate timing of the departure of two Statutory Officers at a late stage in the production of the audit opinion on the Statement of Accounts and the Value for Money conclusion. The External Auditors had felt that further consideration of the Council’s governance arrangements was required in order for an accurate Value for Money conclusion to be given, as was standard procedure in such cases. This additional work had now been carried out, and the Auditors were able to report a positive value for money opinion. It was also noted that there were initiatives underway to further strengthen governance arrangements.

     

    The production of the Value for Money conclusion report signified that the formal completion of the audit could now be certified. The conclusion found that the Council’s financial sustainability position was currently under control, but external influences such as the Fair Funding Review may bring increased challenges in the future, calling for difficult decisions to be made moving forward. Members were assured that the additional fees for the further work undertaken in relation to the Value for Money conclusion were at a consistent level with those made to all clients requiring additional work.

     

    Committee members were given the opportunity to ask any questions arising from the report. Reference was made to the discussions between Auditors and Senior Officers which had been undertaken as part of the additional work. One Member wished for clarification as to who the Auditors had consulted. Auditors had spoken to the Section 151 officer, the Monitoring Officer and the Interim Chief Executive in order to seek the necessary assurances.

     

    Members concluded that they were pleased to note the findings of the report and the overall positive result of the Value for Money conclusion.

     

     

     

       

24.

Internal Audit progress report pdf icon PDF 191 KB

    Report of the Cabinet Member for Finance.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Members were invited to consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and the Internal Audit Progress Report (Appendix 1). It was noted that there was an error in the Cabinet Member’s report under Section 1 - ‘Progress Report’. The headings ‘Building Control’ and ‘Allocations & Lettings’ should have been displayed the other way around in the table. All other details within the table were in the correct order.

     

    The progress report summarised the four audits that had been undertaken in the financial year to date by the Internal Auditors RSM. The Internal Audit plan was on track to be completed within the time frame agreed. Those audits which had not yet been carried out were in the process of being scoped and arrangements were being made with the relevant service areas.

     

    The four audits covered by the Internal Audit progress report were Building Control, Allocations and Lettings, Housing Benefits and Customer Relationship Management. All four audits had received a positive opinion, with some management actions identified for each audit.

     

    The Building Control Audit identified four medium and two low management actions and implementation dates had been put in place for these. One Member stated that the number of medium priority findings relating to the same twenty building control applications was a significant proportion and queried whether this was a concern. The Internal Audit team explained that as the findings were minor gaps of information in relation to the amount of data processed overall for each application, reasonable assurance had been able to be found. There would be follow up work undertaken to review the progression of the agreed actions. The Customer Relationship Management Audit had also required some medium level actions relating to the Council’s current CRM system.

     

    The Committee were satisfied that they had received a comprehensive review of the report and were able to note its contents.

25.

Safeguarding Annual Report pdf icon PDF 192 KB

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

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Members were invited to consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Communities, Health and Wellbeing along with the Safeguarding Annual Report (Appendix 1). The Cabinet Member praised the Community Engagement and Policy Development Officer, who had highlighted the importance of the safeguarding of the district being a shared responsibility of all Officers and Members.

     

    The Community Engagement and Policy Development Officer then presented the report, explaining that it had been brought to the Governance and Audit Committee annually due to the constitutional requirement for the report to be produced, which was consistent with the regulatory work undertaken by the Committee.

     

    The report gave an overview of the Council’s response in relation to Safeguarding, including the current policies and procedures in place. It also outlined the Council’s training arrangements in relation to safeguarding. Thirty three Members had already undertaken safeguarding training as part of their induction process earlier in the year. Officers were all required to undergo a form of safeguarding training, the level of which would be dependent on individual job role and responsibilities. It was also now a requirement for taxi drivers to partake in e-learning safeguarding training before they could receive or renew a licence.

     

    Members were advised that eleven safeguarding referrals had been made by the authority in the 2018-19 period. Five of the referrals had related to adults, seven to children/young people and one to an unborn child. The report also outlined the Council’s involvement in the Lincolnshire Assurance and Assessment Framework (LAAF). Under the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board, the Council was required to undertake a self-assessment audit every three years in order to prove its compliance with its safeguarding duties. The authority’s most recent self-assessment, along with supplementary evidence was submitted earlier in 2019. A response was now awaited from the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board.

     

    Members were invited to ask questions arising from the report. One Member asked what measures were in place to ensure that taxi drivers and housing repair contractors had been employed subject to DBS checks. It was explained that DBS checks were not required for any officer of a district authority, as the provision of care was the responsibility of Lincolnshire County Council for the area of South Kesteven. Another Member related that as there had been so much information received during the Member induction process (when the initial safeguarding training had been provided), that additional training would be welcomed as a refresher for Members.

     

    The Chairman added his thanks for the report and suggested that additional training be put forward as a recommendation of the Committee. The Committee confirmed that the contents of the appended 2018/19 Safeguarding Annual Report had been noted.

     

    Recommendation

     

    That additional training be provided for Members in relation to safeguarding

26.

Any other business, which the chairman, by reasons of special circumstances, decides is urgent.

27.

Close of Meeting