Agenda and minutes

Audit & Governance Committee
Monday, 25 September 2017 10.30 am

Venue: Members Conference Room, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN

Contact: Emma O'Donnell  Email: emma.odonnell@surreycc.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

51/17

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

52/17

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING 27 JULY 2017 pdf icon PDF 294 KB

53/17

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.

54/17

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 (Tuesday 19 September 2017).

    2.  The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting (Monday 18 September 2017).

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

     

    Minutes:

    There were none.

55/17

RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER AND BULLETIN pdf icon PDF 75 KB

    The Committee is asked to review its Recommendations tracker and note progress towards actions listed.

    The Committee is also asked to review the Bulletin and where necessary, request a formal report to the Committee if more information is required.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

    None

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    With reference to recommendation A9/17, the Chairman informed the committee he had yet to write the covering letter, and that it would be circulated to all Members along with the narrative report in due course.

    2.    The Committee reviewed each item on the tracker and noted its contents.

    3.    Members highlighted the value of gifts and hospitality declared in Environment & Infrastructure was significantly higher than in other directorates.  Officers explained that whilst the figures were high, this was not of concern as they had been reviewed by HR.  Members noted that the gifts and hospitality update was a summary of a much larger report that was available online.

     

    Action/Further information to note:

    1.    Committee Assistant to circulate the link to the gifts and hospitality report to Committee Members.

    2.    Committee Assistant to contact the whistle-blowing report author to suggest the inclusion of an additional column detailing resultant action in future reports.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.    The recommendations tracker and bulletin reports were noted.

     

56/17

EXTERNAL AUDIT: ANNUAL AUDIT LETTER pdf icon PDF 99 KB

    The Council’s external auditors present their Annual Audit Letter for 2016/17.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

     

    None

     

    Witnesses:

     

    Nikki O’Connor, Finance Manager

    Ciaran McLaughlin, Grant Thornton

    Marcus Ward, Grant Thornton

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Finance Manager introduced the report.  It was explained that this was a summary of all the work undertaken by Grant Thornton in the financial year 2016/17. 

    2.    There was some discussion about the management and administration of teachers’ pensions in relation to the teachers’ pension return that Grant Thornton had recently completed.  Members noted that the Teachers Pensions Agency were responsible for all aspects of management and administration. 

    3.    Members noted that the Council’s whole of governments accounts return was due to be submitted to HM Treasury by 4 October 2017.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    None

     

    Resolved:

    1.    The Committee noted the report.

     

     

     

57/17

EXTERNAL AUDIT PERFORMANCE pdf icon PDF 98 KB

    To report back on performance against KPIs agreed in December 2016.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

     

    None

     

    Witnesses:

     

    Nikki O’Connor, Finance Manager

    Ciaran McLaughlin, Grant Thornton

    Marcus Ward, Grant Thornton

    Russell Banks, Chief Internal Auditor

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Finance Manager introduced the report.  It was explained that annex 1 provided commentary of progress against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the financial year 2016/17.

    2.    The Finance Manager explained that whilst all KPIs had been achieved in 2016/17, there was still room for improvement. 

    3.    The Committee was informed that the proposed KPIs for 2017/18 reflected the areas where improvements were required and they had been drawn up by the Council in consultation with Grant Thornton.

    4.    Members commended Grant Thornton for achieving the KPIs on time and on budget.

    5.    The Chief Internal Auditor commented that whilst it is not common to have KPIs in place between a local authority and an external audit company, it was good practice and it was demonstrable in the results that officers have a good working relationship with Grant Thornton.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    None

     

    Resolved:

    1.    Members noted the report.

    2.    Members approved the proposed KPIs for 2017/18.

58/17

LEADERSHIP RISK REGISTER pdf icon PDF 106 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.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

     

    None

     

    Witnesses:

     

    Nikki O’Connor, Finance Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Finance Manager introduced the report and explained that there had been a few minor changes to the Leadership Risk Register since the Committee last reviewed it.

    2.    The Committee were informed that the previous risk L4, Strategic Infrastructure, had been removed from the Leadership Risk Register as the Statutory Responsibilities Network (SRN) felt that this risk was best managed under Environment & Infrastructure’s (E&I) service risk register.

    3.    Members raised concerns with this decision as it was felt that the financial impact of Strategic Infrastructure failure would affect the entire county, far beyond that of the E&I directorate’s remit.

    4.    The Finance Manager explained that the Leadership team understood the impact that this would cause however it was still considered to be managed better at directorate level, although if SRN considered it to need a higher profile at any point in the future, it could be put back onto the Leadership risk register.

    5.    A Member commented that with having four risks in the high quadrant of the risk matrix, it was imperative to ensure contingencies were in place. The Committee noted that some risks were outside of the organisations control however scenario planning was undertaken where appropriate.

    6.    The Committee was informed that “new ways of working” (L5) was broadly defined as anything involving partnership working and areas of innovation and change.

    7.    There was some discussion about the property investment programme as a source of income generation as detailed in L4.  The Finance Manager informed Members that Halsey Garton accounts would be reviewed at the next meeting.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    None

     

    Resolved:

    1.    The Committee reviewed the Leadership risk register and were satisfied that there were no issues that needed to be drawn to the attention of the Chief Executive or Cabinet. 

    2.    Members noted that a review of the council’s wholly owned trading companies would be on the agenda at the committee’s next meeting. 

59/17

COMPLETED INTERNAL AUDIT REPORTS pdf icon PDF 101 KB

    The purpose of this report is to inform Members of the Internal Audit reports that have been completed since the last meeting.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

     

    None

     

    Witnesses:

     

    David John, Audit Performance Manager

    Russell Banks, Chief Internal Auditor

    Liz Mills, Assistant Director, Schools & Learning

    Mary Burguieres, Continuous Improvement and Change Strategic Lead

    Mary Lewis, Cabinet Member for Education

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Audit Performance Manager presented the report, featuring seven completed audits, six of which were rated as reasonable assurances and invited Members to comment.

    2.    The Chairman commented on the Members Allowances and expenses audit and suggested that Members’ non-compliance of procedure should be highlighted to political group leaders in order to address the issue.

    3.    There was a discussion about how receipts would be provided once the electronic Member expense system went live.

    4.    Members commented on the Revenue Budget Monitoring audit, raising concern that one of the actions listed appeared to be a one-off rather than an ongoing process.  The Audit Performance Manager explained that managing access was part of a much larger piece of work around managing leavers which will be undertaken later in the year.

    5.    The Chief Internal Auditor explained that the process was also affected by staff transferring to new roles internally within the organisation and therefore the scope of work would include transfers as well as leavers.  

     

    There was a short adjournment to wait for officers and the Cabinet Member to attend to introduce the SEND2020 audit.  Meeting adjourned at 11:53am and reconvened at 12:01pm.

     

    6.    The Audit Performance Manager explained that it had previously been agreed that CSF audit findings be shared with management to allow for remedial action to be undertaken before the report was shared publicly.

    7.    Members were informed that field work for parts of this audit began in May 2016 and there were concerns around the time taken in addressing some of the key findings.

    8.    The Assistant Director for Schools & Learning explained that she had identified the lack of a quality assurance framework soon after taking up post in July 2016 and had started to implement changes within the service to address key issues.  This included the recent appointment of the Continuous Improvement and Change Strategic Lead officer and working towards changing the culture of the service. 

    9.    The Committee asked the officers to summarise their key areas of focus for the coming six months.  The Assistant Director of Schools & Learning stated that the service planned to complete the five priorities as set out in the Council’s Written Statement of Action by December 2017.

    10.  The Continuous Improvement and Change Strategic Lead officer highlighted that a Rapid Improvement Event had been held to improve the process of delivering Education and Health Care Plans, working with families to streamline the service.  Timely delivery has increased from 28% to 62% as a result.

    11.  The Cabinet Member informed Members that the key areas of focus that had been pledged to the Minister for Children and Families were:

    ·         To deepen and expand the scope for change

    ·         Drive improvements in the timeliness and quality of assessments

    ·         To further reduce  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59/17

60/17

ANNUAL COMPLAINTS PERFORMANCE pdf icon PDF 566 KB

    To receive a report on the operation of the Council’s complaints procedures.

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

     

    None

     

    Witnesses:

     

    Sarah Bogunovic, Customer Relations and Service Improvement Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.    The Customer Relations and Service Improvement Manager introduced the report and clarified the Council’s definition of a complaint as an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about any aspect of the Council’s people, services, activities or policies.  This includes actions taken, or services provided by people or organisations acting on our behalf.

    2.    Members noted that to help differentiate between service requests and complaints, a distinction is made between complaints ‘to’ the Council and complaints ‘about’ the Council.

    3.    The officer highlighted a decrease of over £25,000 in financial redress payments made by the Council over the previous four years and attributed this to improved procedural compliance.

    4.    The officer defined a compliment as an expression of courtesy beyond a standard thank you.  It was noted that compliments in CSF were low as compliments were not logged as staff felt they were just doing their job.  The committee had heard from the Assistant Director of Schools and Learning during the previous item that culture change within the service aimed to increase compliment rates.  

    5.    Members noted that some complainants would escalate their complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman anyway, simply because they had not received their desired outcome.

    6.    Members were informed that compensation payments were calculated based on the costs of the services to the Council that the resident would not have incurred if arrangements had been implemented on time.  Payments over £1000 required authorisation by the Cabinet Portfolio holder.

     

    Action/Further information to be provided:

    1.    Future reports to contain a year-on-year comparison of complaints upheld by the Local Government Ombudsman.

    2.    Comparative benchmarking against similar local authorities to be included in future reports.

     

    Resolved:

    1.    The Committee noted the report and approved of the current procedures for complaints management.

     

61/17

COMMITTEE WORKPLAN pdf icon PDF 29 KB

62/17

DATE OF NEXT MEETING