Agenda and minutes

Audit and Risk Committee
Tuesday, 29th January, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Catmose

Contact: Governance  01572 720991

Items
No. Item

543.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Mr Lammie and Mr Lowe.

544.

MINUTES

To confirm the minutes of the Audit and Risk Committee held on 30 October 2018.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Audit and Risk Committee held on 30 October 2018 were confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

545.

MATTERS ARISING

Minutes:

 Mr Brown (Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Planning, Environment, Property and Finance) provided the following update on Shared Ownership following discussion at the last meeting:

 

Since the Committee last met, I have followed up the question raised over the management of Affordable Housing with the previous Strategic Director, Steve Ingram and his staff.

 

On 13th November I met with Alison Morgan and Mandy Gee (shared with SKDC) to ascertain the current position.

 

I was satisfied from that meeting that the Social Rented Housing was in good hands and that there were clear procedures to ensure that the Council’s Housing Policy was being implemented. You will have received an email yesterday from Cllr Walters about the status of the Social Rented Housing

 

However, this was not the case with the Shared Ownership Housing for a number of reasons not least due to a long term illness of a member of staff.

 

I asked for a proposal to be prepared to deal with this issue and this involve the following:-

 

The best solution is for every affordable home to be placed onto a single database and monitored by identified staff who will have responsibility for maintaining its accuracy.

 

This database would include all existing (social rent/affordable rent/intermediate rent/ shared equity/shared ownership) although the first priority would be the Shared Ownership Homes. All the new tenures now available under the banner of 'affordable housing' in the NPPF (Affordable Private Rent/ Starter Homes/ Discounted Market Sales Housing/Rent to Buy) would also be included. 

 

All these tenures are classed as 'affordable housing' but each tenure is unique in some form, including all the affordable rented.  Also 'alms house would need to be included as well as they are a form of affordable housing.

 

The database will identify the affordable property by its location, its size, any special features (disabled provisions), its tenure, the affordable housing provider (council, registered provider, private landlord) and any special or local lettings/sales requirements/conditions attached and how the affordable housing was provided (S.106, council site, registered provider site, charity etc).

 

New affordable housing provided through one of the above routes would be added to the database when completed and occupied.  The database to be updated at least annually by contacting the owner to update the details held, (rent to buy, that the property was now being purchased and from what date, shared ownership that the owner/occupier had 'staircased' affordable housing demolished/sold/redeveloped as no longer economically viable for the owner.  The records can then be changed/updated.

 

The registered providers are legally bound by their own governance, Homes  England and the Legal profession on the sale/resale of shared ownership properties and I am assured that all requirements (cascades to whom the properties can be sold and in what order) are being complied with.  I would however suggest, that to monitor the sales more closely that the 'nomination agreement' includes a paragraph on notification of sales/resales, confirming the purchasers name and address and why they were successful in their purchase, if there is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 545.

546.

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.

547.

PETITIONS, DEPUTATIONS AND QUESTIONS

To receive any petitions, deputations and questions received from Members of the Public in accordance with the provisions of Procedure Rule 217.

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 out 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.

548.

QUESTIONS 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 from members.

549.

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.

550.

EXTERNAL AUDITORS PLANNING 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 51 KB

To receive Report No. 21/2019 from the Strategic Director for Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report No. 21/2019 was received from the Strategic Director for Resources, the purpose of which was to outline the approach to the external audit for 2018/19.

 

Mr Gregory, Engagement Lead at Grant Thornton, introduced the report and provided a summary of the scope of the audit as detailed in page 9 of the agenda pack.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

  1. There was some discrepancy in the “clearly trivial” figure within the report, the Auditors confirmed that the correct figure was £62.5k;
  2. Audit fees were detailed at page 17 of the agenda pack, these had been significantly reduced through the tendering process.  There was a separate fee for the Housing Benefit (Subsidy) Assurance Process which was not part of the Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) regime; and
  3. The Chairman, Miss Waller, acknowledged the work that RCC Officers do in order to comply with internal and external audit requirements.

 

RESOLVED

 

The Committee NOTED the audit plan from the external auditors, Grant Thornton LLP.

 

551.

PROJECT FRAMEWORK - GOVERNANCE AND RISK MANAGEMENT pdf icon PDF 145 KB

To receive Report No. 32/2019 from the Strategic Director for Resources.

Minutes:

Report No. 32/2019 was received from the Strategic Director for Resources, the purpose of which was to seek approval for changes made to the Project Management Guidance.

 

Mr Della Rocca, Strategic Director for Resources, introduced the report and explained that the purpose of the guidance was to ensure that high risk projects had the correct governance in place at the initial stages.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

  1. The guidance was did not require Council approval, however, the Committee may include it in the Annual Report in order to advise Council of the review of the re-draft that had taken place;
  2. Mr Arnold requested clarification on whether the revised guidance would have had any impact on the way the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the St Georges Barracks Projects had been approved.  Mr Brown confirmed that there had been a governance structure in place in the form of the St Georges Project Board, which had been in place at the time of agreeing the MoU;
  3. Miss Waller requested that a requirement for Cabinet to receive training in relation to the project guidance be added to the process outlined in section 2.3 of the report;
  4. Miss Waller also requested that the wording in the “Risk & Project Evaluation Criteria” for the low risk of impact in service delivery, be amended as impact on “up to 10 officers” could in fact amount to a whole service;
  5. Miss Waller requested that the weighting of x3 for Project Delivery Risk be reviewed to ensure it was sufficiently high; and
  6. Miss Waller felt that there should be full minutes, not just a minute log, for Very High Risk Projects, this was important for transparency and public trust.

 

RESOLVED

 

The Committee APPROVED the update to the project guidance in respect of “very high risk” projects subject the comments noted above.

 

552.

INTERNAL AUDIT PLANNING pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To receive Report No. 19/2019 from the Head of Internal Audit.

Minutes:

Report No. 19/2019 was received from the Head of Internal Audit, the purpose of which was to advise members on the process being followed the develop the Internal Audit Plan for 2019/20 and the initial areas proposed for inclusion in the plan, subject to risk assessment and prioritisation.  Members were also invited to highlight any areas where they required assistance from the Internal Audit Team during the next financial year.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

  1. Mr Conde requested that the Aids and Adaptations Audit should include retrieval and return of equipment in the scope;
  2. Miss Waller highlighted that some residents had been experiencing issues with the “FixmyStreet” platform, particularly in relation to communication of outcomes and actions where the issue reported was in relation to a service which did not use FixMyStreet.  Mr Tomlinson, Senior Highways Manager, confirmed that there had been some implementation problems with FixMyStreet, these problems were now being rectified with the help of IT.  Once the improvements had been made, drop in sessions would be arranged for members and Parish Councils in order to communicate the enhanced service.  Mr Brown suggested that an Audit Review following implementation of the improvements would be useful to evidence that the process was now working efficiently;
  3. The revised customer service standards referred to in relation to the customer services audit, had been drafted but not yet launched; and
  4. Members requested that a process be put in place so that when officers left the authority an Out of Office response was applied to the Outlook account.

 

RESOLVED

 

1)    The Committee NOTED the process being followed to develop the risk based Audit Plan for 2019/20.

2)    The Committee NOTED the initial areas highlighted for potential coverage in the Internal Audit Plan 2019/20 and suggested additional areas for the Internal Audit team to look at during the year ahead.

 

553.

INTERNAL AUDIT UPDATE pdf icon PDF 61 KB

To receive Report No. 20/2019 from the Head of Internal Audit.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report No. 20/2019 was received from the Head of Internal Audit, the purpose of which was to update members on the progress made in delivering the 2018/19 Annual Audit Plan and outcomes from audit assignments completed since the last committee meeting.

 

Miss R Ashley-Caunt, Head of Internal Audit, introduced the report and provided a brief summary of the work that had been completed since the last report.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

  1. In relation to Performance, Miss Ashley-Caunt explained that she managed audit plans across six councils and that the majority of financial systems related work for Rutland, had to be completed towards the end of the year;
  2. Mr Brown updated the Committee on the overdue Bond for the Waste Management Contract.  A parent company guarantee had been offered but it was for an insufficient amount and as such had been rejected.  Mr Brown would keep the Committee updated on any further developments;
  3. Miss Waller explained that she had requested the Internal Audit Reports on the King Centre and Winter Maintenance (Appendices F and G) to come before the Committee for discussion.  Miss Waller felt that the King Centre report demonstrated that there had been learning taken forward from the concerns that the Committee had expressed in relation to the Oakham Enterprise Park audit.  The King Centre was a good report which evidenced that comments had been taken forward and improvements made.  Miss Waller thought it would be sensible for the Commercial Lettings Policy, referred to in the report, to go to Cabinet for approval;
  4. In relation to the Winter Maintenance Audit Report (Appendix G), Miss Waller had some concerns regarding the risk assessment process as identified in the report;
  5. Mr Tomlinson, Senior Highways Manager, explained that the audit had been carried out prior to the implementation of the new Winter Service Policy which had been agreed by Cabinet in October 2018.  He explained that actions had been completed and evidence had been provided to the Audit Team but it would be resent as it had not been received.  The approved treatment routes for precautionary salting in Rutland were significantly higher than neighbouring Counties.  Precautionary salting was carried out for frost as well as snow;
  6. Ms Burkitt highlighted the increase in accidents on footpaths in Uppingham Market Place during last year’s heavy snow.  Mr Tomlinson assured that primary footways were treated.  There had also been a new Snow Warden Scheme implemented through Parish Councils, in order for volunteers to assist with treatment of pavements in times of very bad weather. Unfortunately the take up had been disappointing;
  7. Miss Waller suggested that the Parish Council Forum would be a good place to increase the profile of the Snow Warden Scheme; and
  8. Mr Tomlinson confirmed that operators must cover the set route, but could cover additional areas weather and time permitting.

 

RESOLVED

 

The Committee NOTED the Internal Audit update report (Appendix A of Report No. 20/2019).

 

--o0o--

Mr N Tomlinson left the meeting and did not return.

--o0o--

 

 

554.

ACCOUNTS CLOSURE PLANNING 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To receive Report No. 13/2019 from the Strategic Director for Resources.

Minutes:

Report No. 13/2019 was received by the Strategic Director for Resources, the purpose of which was to inform the Committee of the emerging changes that will have an impact on the production of the Statement of Accounts for 2018/19 and how the Council is planning on meeting the new requirements.

 

RESOLVED

 

The Committee NOTED the contents of the report including the changes that impact the Statement of Accounts for 2018/19.

 

--o0o--

Mr J Gregory and Mr P Harvey left the meeting and did not return.

--o0o--

 

555.

REGULATION OF INVESTIGATORY POWERS ACT 2000 (RIPA) POLICY pdf icon PDF 65 KB

To receive Report No. 2/2019 from the Strategic Director for Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report No. 2/2019 was received from the Strategic Director for Resources, the purpose of which was to present an updates Regulation of Investigation Power Act 2000 (RIPA) Policy for comment prior to Cabinet approval on 19 February 2019.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

  1. Miss S Bingham, Business Support Manager, confirmed that no surveillance is carried out until authorisation is obtained from the Magistrates Court.  Miss Waller requested that the wording at section 7.6 of the report be revised to clarify this;
  2. There is no requirement for a “recruiter” for Local Authorities; and
  3. Once the report had been approved at Cabinet, appropriate training would be provided to the Senior Management Team and other relevant officers.

 

RESOLVED

 

The Committee NOTED the Regulation of Investigation Power Act 2000 (RIPA) Policy (Appendix A of Report No. 2/2019).

 

556.

STRATEGIC RISK REGISTER pdf icon PDF 61 KB

To receive Report No. 31/2019 from the Strategic Director for Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report No. 31/2019 was received from the Strategic Director for Resources, the purpose of which was to present the Strategic Risk Register to the Committee and provide assurance that strategic risks were being adequately managed.

 

Mr Della Rocca, Strategic Director for Resources, introduced the report and advised members that the Risk Register had been updated to incorporate comments and feedback from Members at the previous meeting.  Two risks had been added, in relation to Electoral turnover and Brexit.  Mr Della Rocca also confirmed that the Council had been notified that it was to receive additional funding to assist with Brexit.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

i.      Mr Della Rocca confirmed that the new model of delivery for SEND would be developed under Mark Andrews, Strategic Director for People.  The challenge was delivery within budget constraints, but work was ongoing in this area;

ii.     Miss Waller highlighted that any mitigation in relation to public perceptions should include engagement as well as information;

iii.    “On boarding” was used to explain the process of equipping people to do their jobs properly through training, information and resources; and

iv.   Specific Member Training and Induction Programme would be discussed at the next Growth, Infrastructure and Resources Scrutiny Panel, where members would be invited to feedback on proposals. The report would be circulated to all members to ensure that all views were invited in order to feed into the development of a comprehensive training and induction plan which was fit for purpose and in line with Member expectations.

 

RESOLVED

 

The Committee NOTED the content of the Risk Register and the actions underway to address the risks.

 

557.

COMPLAINTS UPDATE pdf icon PDF 313 KB

To receive Report No. 17/2019 from the Strategic Director for Resources.

Minutes:

Report No. 17/2019 was received from the Strategic Director for Resources, the purpose of which was to provide additional information requested following the Annual Compliments, Comments and Complaints report presented to Committee on 30 October 2018.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

  1. Members requested information on the number of complaints against Councillors.  Mr Della Rocca would take this away to look at how these complaints could be reported;
  2. As discussed earlier in relation to FixMyStreet, the way in which issues were reported to Highways and subsequent information on resolution and closure of the case was being looked at.  These cases should be monitored to ensure they are dealt with and do not turn in to complaints at a later date; and
  3. Mr Della Rocca confirmed that the Customer Service Standards were being revised and relaunched to promote behaviours which improve service standards and reduce complaints.

 

RESOLVED

 

The Committee NOTED this update following the Annual Compliments, Comments and Complaints report presented to the Committee on 30 October 2018.

558.

ANY OTHER URGENT BUSINESS

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

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.