Agenda and draft minutes

Audit and Risk Committee
Tuesday, 1st October, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Catmose

Contact: Governance  01572 720991

Items
No. Item

281.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Minutes:

No apologies for absence were received.

282.

MINUTES

To confirm the minutes of the Audit and Risk Committee held on 23 July 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 23 July 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

283.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

In accordance with the Regulations, Members are invited to declare any disclosable interests under the Code of Conduct and the nature of those interests in respect of items on this Agenda and/or indicate if Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 applies to them.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest in respect of items on the agenda.

 

 

284.

PETITIONS, DEPUTATIONS AND QUESTIONS

To receive any petitions, deputations and questions received from Members of the Public in accordance with the provisions of Procedure RuleS 93 and 94.

 

The total time allowed for this item shall be 30 minutes. Petitions, declarations and questions shall be dealt with in the order in which they are received. Questions may also be submitted at short notice by giving a written copy to the Committee Administrator 15 minutes before the start of the meeting.

 

The total time allowed for questions at short notice is 15 minutes of the total time of 30 minutes. Any petitions, deputations and questions that have been submitted with prior formal notice will take precedence over questions submitted at short notice. Any questions that are not considered within the time limit shall receive a written response after the meeting and be the subject of a report to the next meeting.

Minutes:

There were no petitions, deputations or questions from members of the public.

285.

QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE FROM MEMBERS

To consider any questions received from Members of the Council in accordance with the provisions of Procedure Rule 95.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions with notice from Members.

286.

NOTICES OF MOTION

To consider any Notices of Motion from Members submitted under Procedure Rule 97.

 

 

Minutes:

There were no notices of motion received from Members.

287.

MATTERS ARISING

Minutes:

There were no matters arising.

288.

EXTERNAL AUDITORS ANNUAL AUDIT LETTER pdf icon PDF 52 KB

To receive Report No.153/2019 from the Strategic Director for Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report No.153/2019 was received from the Strategic Director for Resources, the purpose of which was for the Committee to note the external auditor’s audit work for 2018/19 as reported in their Annual Audit Letter.

 

Mr Gregory, Engagement Lead at Grant Thornton, introduced the report and highlighted the issues that they, as auditors, wished to draw to the attention of the public.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

·         Auditing standards required that external audit work was summarised within an annual audit letter and presented to the Committee.

·         Only 60% of Councils had received their Audit Findings Report by 31 July this year as many auditors had resourcing issues. Fortunately Grant Thornton had been able to report the detailed findings from its audit work to the Committee at their meeting on 23 July 2019 ahead of the deadline.

·         By Summer 2021 there would be a change to the process with the Audit Findings Report and the Annual Audit Letter becoming instead the Audit Annual Report.

·         It was unknown whether this new process would mean an increase in fees as the National Audit Office would be responsible for setting fees.

·         The Audit Letter referred to objections in the plural but as they overlapped the auditors had managed to combine them into one single objection. The objection had been responded to in an informal context and no further issues had been highlighted. The Auditors therefore envisaged being able to issue their certificate well within the 9 months of receipt deadline.

·         There was a rolling valuation over a five year term for the Council’s land and buildings which ensured insurance cover adequately reflected the value of assets.

·         The Auditor was unable to comment on whether the current absence of a certificate would impact in any way on the implementation of The Local Plan

 

RESOLVED

 

The Committee APPROVED the External Auditors Annual Audit Letter.

289.

INTERNAL AUDIT PROGRESS REPORT pdf icon PDF 63 KB

To receive Report No.154/2019 from the Strategic Director for Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report No.154/2019 was received from the Strategic Director of Resources.

 

Ms Ashley-Caunt, Head of Internal Audit, introduced the report the purpose of which was to update members on the progress made in delivering the 2019/20 Annual Audit Plan and outcomes from audit assignments completed since the last Committee meeting.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

·         An introduction to Internal Audit had been given in the training that had preceded the meeting.

·         Since the last Committee meeting 23 actions arising from Audit recommendations had been implemented.

·         There was a high priority action on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) but that was expected to be closed in the very near future.

·         Overall Internal Audit was on track in terms of the delivery of the Audit Plan.

·         In response to Members’ question on the waste contract, Mr Brown, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Environment, Property and Finance confirmed that legal advice had been received in regard to the Biffa Performance Bond and this would be fed back to Biffa. In addition, KPIs for checking invoices and performance had been agreed and these should be in place by the time of the next meeting.

·         The internal report on procurement cards which had been used as an example of an internal audit was in the public domain as it had been published with the Committee papers. All other internal audit reports to date were available to Members only, via TEAMS.

·         Members questioned why the procurement cards audit had only achieved a satisfactory as they felt that the system should be well honed.

·         The satisfactory grading for procurement cards was because of the inconsistency between the policies and the procedures which were of a ‘gold standard’ level. The Council had realised that if the procedures on paper that they had originally been seeking to implement had been put in practice it would have been far too onerous for staff and would have cost too much money in terms of officer time.  Had the procedures reflected reality then a substantial grading would have been achieved.

·         The date for the Highways contract overdue action was still to be confirmed.

·         The Portfolio Holder for Planning, Environment, Property and Finance, following requests at previous meetings, updated the Committee on the conditions under which affordable housing was allocated.

·         Social housing allocations followed procedure but this was not necessarily the case for shared ownership housing, in particular the sale of the house share. One issue was that estate agents did not always clearly identify that it was a shared ownership house that was for sale. The Council had now agreed with Spire Homes that they would ensure that estate agents provided the correct information to prospective buyers and also that they would write to all shared owners stating that shared ownership must be declared when they came to sell the property.

·         There was an ongoing case in North Luffenham concerning shared ownership housing on a rural exceptions site. Only a maximum 80% share of the house could be owned by the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 289.

290.

ANY OTHER URGENT BUSINESS

To receive items of urgent business which have previously been notified to the person presiding.

Minutes:

No other urgent business had been notified to the person presiding.