Report from the Council’s Internal Auditors, RSM, giving a summary update on
progress against the Internal Audit Plan 2019/20.
A representative from RSM presented the Internal Audit progress report. It was confirmed that the Internal Audit Plan for 2019/20 had now been completed, with six assignments having been finalised since the last meeting of the Committee. Substantial assurances had been concluded for the assignments in relation to risk management and the planning service. Reasonable assurances had been concluded for purchasing cards and void management and partial assurances had been concluded for procurement and contracts and homelessness. Medium and low priority management actions had been agreed with relevant service areas across the audits, with no high priority actions raised. Members were asked if they had any questions or comments relating to the progress report.
The Chairman read out an email that had been received from the Assistant Director, Housing, in response to a question from a member of the Committee regarding the void management audit. The email confirmed that as a result of the audit, a Voids Policy was being produced and would be considered by the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee before its adoption.
Members sought confirmation that the Council was on schedule to implement the management actions required in respect of the homelessness audit. The Assistant Director, Housing confirmed that all of the actions had been implemented, aside from the updated Housing Asset Management Strategy, which would be completed by the end of July. One Member asked about the extent to which the Council was utilising bed and breakfast accommodation as a means of temporary accommodation. It was confirmed that although bed and breakfast accommodation was sometimes used during periods of escalation in homelessness, the Council was currently able to support the provision of temporary accommodation using only its own stock.
The Committee considered the outcome of the procurement and contracts audit. A number of Members noted the challenge of managing procurement as an authority-wide responsibility. The Interim Director of Finance suggested that there was potential for the service to be given to a centralised group of officers, to standardise the compliance with procedures and quality of work undertaken in this area. The Committee was reminded that a new set of Contract Procedure Rules had been adopted at Council in January 2020. Officers suggested that a period of time be allowed to see the effects of the use of the revised set of rules, along with the implemented management actions, after which time the service could again be reviewed. The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources added that he was committed to improving the performance of procurement and contracts, which sat within his portfolio.
Attention then turned to the audit regarding purchasing cards. The Committee asked for further information regarding the level of access to purchasing cards. The Interim Director of Finance explained that purchasing cards were given to specific officers, who were named on their assigned purchasing card and subject to monthly and individual spending limits. Members expressed concern regarding a transaction of £740.62 identified in the report and wished for further information as to what the transaction related.
· The Committee to be provided with information identifying the reason for a purchase card transaction of £740.62
The Chairman confirmed that the report had been reviewed and its contents were noted by the Committee.