Agenda and minutes

Audit & Governance Committee
Monday, 11 April 2016 10.00 am

Venue: Ashcombe Suite, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN. View directions

Contact: Angela Guest  Email: angela.guest@surreycc.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

13/16

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

14/16

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING 22 FEBRUARY 2016 pdf icon PDF 189 KB

15/16

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

    To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests from Members in respect of any item to be considered at the meeting.

     

    Notes:

    ·         In line with the Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012, declarations may relate to the interest of the member, or the member’s spouse or civil partner, or a person with whom the member is living as husband or wife, or a person with whom the member is living as if they were civil partners and the member is aware they have the interest.

    ·         Members need only disclose interests not currently listed on the Register of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.

    ·         Members must notify the Monitoring Officer of any interests disclosed at the meeting so they may be added to the Register.

    ·         Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest.

    Minutes:

    There were none.

16/16

QUESTIONS AND PETITIONS

    To receive any questions or petitions.

     

    Notes:

    1.  The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (5 April 2016).

    2.  The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting (4 April 2016).

    3.  The deadline for petitions was 14 days before the meeting, and no petitions have been received.

     

    Minutes:

    There were none.

17/16

RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER pdf icon PDF 75 KB

    To review the Committee’s recommendations tracker.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

    None

     

    Witnesses:

    Helen Atkinson, Strategic Director for Adult Social Care & Public Health

    Toni Carney, Team Manager, Adult Social Care

    Tim Evans, Cabinet Associate Member

    Sue Lewry-Jones, Chief Internal Auditor

    Sheila Little, Director of Finance

    Denise Le Gal, Cabinet Member

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    A18/15 (SEND Strategy) - The Chairman reported that report to Education & Skills Board had been emailed to Members of this Committee. He had spoken to the Chief Executive about the large sum of money being spent on transport and this would be looked at further.  Members were informed that the Head of Service would be working with, and be supported by, the Chief Internal Auditor over the coming year. It was reported that whilst costs per head were generally higher than other county councils, the outcomes were generally lower.

    2.    A20/15 (Adult Social Care record-keeping) – this was discussed in conjunction with A43/15 below.

    3.    A43/15 – (Internal Audit Report (Adult Social Care)) – It was reported that debt collection fluctuated between 95-96%.  Work had been undertaken to look at all areas and identified areas that were slowing up the process.   These areas were being worked on and communication between the different teams of staff involved was being improved.  The use of online collection for small debts was hoped to improve the collection rate.  It was reported that debt collection was very resource intensive and staff were looking at how to speed up processes.

     

    There was some discussion about the deterrents for users getting into debt which did not hold the same punishments as say Council Tax debt.  Services could not be withdrawn. Users were now being charged more promptly than before so they knew how much was being expected for the service. 

     

    A new IT system (Liquid Logic) was expected to go live in the Summer and officers expected a rise in collections following this.  It was explained how slow and inefficient the present IT system was.  Officers had undertaken a huge amount of work to improve the assessment process and ensure that it was near to the delivery of care. The new IT system would automate much of the financial assessments.  All data on the old system was to be cleaned before transfer to the new system.  The actual ‘go live’ date may change slightly depending on any unforeseen delays regarding testing and training of users.  Being part of a digital partnership with the NHS would be a significant change.  The Children’s department also used Liquid Logic and work was taking place to ensure the system would be interoperable with the NHS system.

     

    The legal process was explained and that taking legal action was a last resort. 

     

    An Annual Report was to go to the SCS Board in June.

     

    In response to a query regarding morale on the frontline it was reported that whilst there were many challenges and changes occurring that morale amongst staff was quite good and that staff were very caring and passionate about their  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17/16

18/16

Internal Audit Plan pdf icon PDF 133 KB

    The purpose of this report is to present the Annual Internal Audit Plan for 2016/17 to the Committee.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

    None

     

    Witnesses:

    Sue Lewry-Jones, Chief Internal Auditor

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Chief Internal Auditor introduced the report and assured the committee that the Audit Plan reflects the key risks facing the Council and that sufficient resources are available to deliver the plan. 

     

    2.    In response to a question about the cost of agency staff, the Chief Internal Auditor explained that it was beneficial to have some agency staff particularly with their experience and knowledge learned from working with a variety of councils. 

     

    3.    The Committee Manager confirmed that the Agreed Process for producing a log of Select Committee Reviews to be regularly shared with the Chairman was still in force but being new to the Council could not say when the last one took place.

     

    4.    It was noted that the number of days in Environment and Infrastructure (E&I) had nearly doubled on the 2015/16 figure.  It was also noted that the E&I had a very large budget as SCC was a very large Council and therefore expect that section to have more days audit.

     

    Actions/Further information to be provided:

    1.    None.

     

    RESOLVED:

    That the committee APPROVED the following:

    (i)         Internal Audit Charter

    (ii)        Internal Audit Strategy

    (iii)       Internal Audit Reporting and Escalation Policy

    (iv)       Internal Audit Quality Assurance and Improvement Programme

    (v)        2016/17 Internal Audit Plan

     

19/16

Effectiveness Review of the System of Internal Audit pdf icon PDF 96 KB

    This report sets out the findings and recommendations from the 2015/16 review of the effectiveness of the system of internal audit in Surrey County Council.  The agreed Terms of Reference for this review are attached at Annex A.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

    None

     

    Witnesses:

    Sue Lewry-Jones, Chief Internal Auditor

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Chief Internal Auditor presented this report and highlighted key data from a benchmarking exercise that Internal Audit had participated in.  She also pointed out that an external assessment is undertaken every five years.

     

    Action/Further information to note:

    None.

     

    RESOLVED:

    That the committee NOTES the report.

     

20/16

Completed Internal Audit Reports pdf icon PDF 89 KB

    The purpose of this report is to inform Members of the Internal Audit reports that have been completed since this Committee last considered a Completed Internal Audit Reports item in February 2016 - as attached at Annex A. 

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

    None

     

    Witnesses:

    Sue Lewry-Jones, Chief Internal Auditor

    Sheila Jones, Head of County-wide Services, Children, Schools and Families

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Chief Internal Auditor introduced her report which described six internal audit reports. 

     

    1.    The Committee discussed the Foster Care report in detail with Sheila Jones, Head of County-wide Services.  Sheila Jones explained the changes that had been put in place since the audit was undertaken and stated that 8 of the 12 high priority recommendations were already in place.  It was emphasised that the issues were ones of record keeping and process recording rather than quality of service which had received complimentary comments from Ofsted.  It was reported that staff were welcoming the changes. The challenge of finding new foster carers in Surrey was difficult and sending children out of the area meant extra costs to the Council.  In response to a Member question regarding the criteria for foster care applications being too strict it was explained that criteria needed to be robust but that there were sometimes misunderstandings about the criteria.  Communication around this was being worked on.

     

    Action/Further information to note:

    None.

     

    RESOLVED:

    That the committee NOTES the report.

     

21/16

Leadership Risk Register pdf icon PDF 409 KB

    The purpose of this report is to present the latest Leadership risk register and update the committee on any changes made since the last meeting.

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

    None

     

    Witnesses:

    Cath Edwards, Risk and Governance Manager

    Sheila Little, Director of Finance

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    L1 – Financial Outlook – It was highlighted that the European Referendum could delay any changes to Government policies.  The Chairman questioned whether the Government policy of requiring all schools to become academies should be listed as a separate item in that the effects of this policy could be wide ranging for the Council.  The Director of Finance explained that each department had their own risk registers that sat below the Leadership risk register and whilst academies was a big issue it was not a risk for the register.  However, she would convey the Committee’s concerns and discuss with the Statutory Responsibilities Network.

     

    2.    L2 – Safeguarding, Children’s’ Services - Members were referred to the Improvement Notice detail and changes to the Assistant Director roles and responsibilities.

     

    3.    L5 – Medium Term Financial Plan 2016-21 – Members were referred to the addition of the newly formed Public Value Transformation Board.

     

    Action/Further information to note:

    The Director of Finance to discuss the Committee’s concerns around the risk to the Council on all schools becoming academies, with the Strategic Responsibilities Network.

     

    RESOLVED:

    That the committee NOTES the report.

     

22/16

DATE OF NEXT MEETING