Agenda and minutes

Audit & Governance Committee
Monday, 22 January 2018 10.30 am

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

Contact: Joss Butler  Email: joss.butler@surreycc.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1/18

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

2/18

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING [4 DECEMBER 2017] pdf icon PDF 135 KB

3/18

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

    All Members present are required to declare, at this point in the meeting or as soon as possible thereafter

    (i)            Any disclosable pecuniary interests and / or

    (ii)           Other interests arising under the Code of Conduct in respect of any item(s) of business being considered at this meeting

    NOTES:

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

    ·         As well as an interest of the Member, this includes any interest, of which the Member is aware, that relates to the Member’s spouse or civil partner (or any person with whom the Member is living as a spouse or civil partner)

    ·         Members with a significant personal interest may participate in the discussion and vote on that matter unless that interest could be reasonably regarded as prejudicial.

    Minutes:

    There were none.

4/18

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 (16 January 2018).

    2.  The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting (15 January 2018).

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

     

    Minutes:

    There were none.

5/18

RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER pdf icon PDF 75 KB

    To review the Committee’s recommendations tracker.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

    None

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    A8/16 – The Audit Performance Manager reported that there were good improvements with record keeping for social care accounts and that new systems were in place.  Audit were satisfied that staff were now on top of the record keeping and outstanding financial assessments.

    2.    A13/17 – Anti Money Laundering Policy – this was now complete and could be removed from the tracker.

    3.    A14/17 – Optimisation of Vacant Properties – Members were informed that the expected briefing was awaiting sign off by the Cabinet Member before circulation.

    4.    A15/17 – Business Continuity – see minute 83/17 below.

    5.    A5/17 – Internal Audit Irregularity & Special Investigation – It was noted that themes were to be agreed with the communication team in April when the website would be updated.

     

    Action/Further information to note:

    To update the Tracker as per discussion.

     

    RESOLVED:

     

    To note the following items as completed:

    ·         A13/17 – Half-Year Irregularities

    ·         A15/17 – Half Year Risk Management (business continuity)

     

6/18

REFERRAL OF COUNTY COUNCIL MOTION pdf icon PDF 84 KB

    To debate a County Council Motion which was referred to the Audit and Governance Committee for consideration.

     

     

     

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Dr Andrew Povey

    David Green, Senior Principal Accountant (schools funding)

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     Further to Minute 75/17(i), when the Council referred this motion to this Committee for further discussion before reporting back to Council, Dr Ian Povey put his Motion:

    That the wording of the Financial Framework for Members’ Allocations contained in Part 5 of the Council’s Constitution, be modified in the section “What we cannot consider”, point 7, to replace the word “core” with the word “statutory”.

    2.     Mr Keith Witham proposed an amendment to keep the word ‘core’ rather than the proposed replacement of ‘statutory’ but to extend point 7 of the Framework to include a list of what is not allowed.

    3.     Members discussed the amendment at some length as there was general agreement that it would be helpful to have clarity and less ambiguity on what Members could use their allocations for in relation to schools.

    4.     They discussed whether there should be a list of areas they could spend allocations or a list of areas they could not.  It was thought that the latter would be easier to propose.

    5.     The amendment proposed by Mr Witham was accepted and became the substantive motion.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    To request that a list of items be provided to the Committee for discussion at its next meeting.

     

    Resolved:

    That the Motion, as amended, be discussed at the next meeting in order to come to a conclusion and make a report to Council.

     

     

     

7/18

BUSINESS CONTINUITY pdf icon PDF 160 KB

    To outline the Council’s assurance process for business continuity plans in and information on the robustness of these plans based on any practical testing.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

    None

     

    Witnesses:

    Ian Good, Head of Emergency Management

    Alan Morris, Deputy Head of Emergency Management

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     The Head of Emergency Management introduced the report that outlined the Council’s assurance process for business continuity plans and the robustness of those plans.  Whilst the Committee had been provided with the LGA Guidance for Members it was reported that this was soon to be updated following the Grenfell disaster.  Service Standards were also to be reviewed with local providers.

    2.     In response to a Member query regarding having a seminar on the topic for all councillors, the Head of Emergency Management reported that a briefing had been done for Cabinet and that this area would become part of core training.  However, a gap had been identified in the local resilience network with no Member involvement currently – this would be resolved.

    3.     Members expressed concern about the number of ‘Red’ items on Appendix 2 to the report.  They were particularly concerned with IMT results.  The Deputy Head of Emergency Management reported that the tables contained in the appendices to the report were considered at the Statutory Responsibilities Network on a half yearly basis.  As a result it was now the practice that business continuity plans were to be reviewed as part of any restructure of service, rather than following any restructure.

    4.     There was discussion around income generation where the Head of Emergency Management explained some of the areas where the service is currently charged and explained that other areas were being reviewed with service directors.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    1.     To put the LGA Guidance on the network portal and let all Members know that it was there and to read. (Tracker A1/18)

    2.     To discuss timings for future reports once training for Members had taken place. (Tracker A2/18)

     

    Resolved:

    That the report was noted.

8/18

TREASURY MANAGEMENT STRATEGY pdf icon PDF 88 KB

    This report sets out the council’s treasury management strategy for 2017/18, as required to ensure compliance with CIPFA’s Code if Practice for Treasury management.

    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 which set out the council’s Treasury Management strategy for 2018/19.

    2.     There was discussion around the increasing levels of borrowing year on year and asked if this was prudent or sustainable.  The Finance Manager explained that following a thorough review of the capital programme last year, schemes requiring borrowing were  only approved where there was a statutory duty or the scheme avoided revenue costs or generated revenue savings.    Other Members noted how stable the figures were over the last few years.

    3.     The Finance Manager responded to other questions of clarification from Members and also reported that the annual cost of financial advisers was approximately £35,000.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    None

     

    Resolved:

     

    That the content of the Treasury Management Strategy for 2018/19 be approved prior to it being presented to full Council on 6 February.

     

9/18

LEADERSHIP RISK REGISTER pdf icon PDF 154 KB

    The purpose of this report is to present the Leadership risk register as at 31 December 2017 and update the Committee on any changes made since the last meeting to enable the Committee to keep the Council’s strategic risks under review.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

    None

     

    Witnesses:

    Nikki O’Connor, Finance Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     The Finance Manager introduced this report which updated the Committee on any changes made to the Leadership Risk Register since the last meeting.  There were a few small changes as contained in the report.

    2.     There was much discussion and concern expressed about the four risks that, despite mitigating actions, continually remained at a high residual risk level.  The discussion moved on to the table itself and the criteria used – especially for financial impact which should be realistic.  Members questioned what was meant by ‘council budget’.  One Member stated that reputational damage should not be a key driver.  They asked that criteria and the table be reviewed.  The Finance Manager undertook to feedback the Committee’s comments to the Statutory Responsibilities Network and the Strategic Risk Forum.

    3.     One Member spoke about the additional statutory duties put on council’s over the last few years which were not funded and he had requested a list of those duties with associated costs from officers.  He thought that list should be discussed by the Committee when available. 

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    1.     That the Finance Manager feedback the Committee’s comments to the Statutory Responsibilities Network and the Resilience Network. (Tracker A3/18)

    2.     That a list of additional statutory responsibilities, and associated costs, put on the council over the last five years be on a future agenda for discussion. (Tracker A4/18)

     

    Resolved:

    That the Finance Manager be requested to raise the Committee’s concerns to the Statutory Responsibilities Network and the Strategic Risk Forum.

10/18

COMPLETED INTERNAL AUDIT REPORTS pdf icon PDF 80 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 December 2017 - as attached at Annex A. 

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Declarations of interest:

    None

     

    Witnesses:

    David John, Audit Performance Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     The Audit Performance Manager introduced a report that set out internal audit reports completed since the last meeting of this committee.  Full report of each of the audits had been provided to Members of the committee and were available on the Members online library.

    2.     With regards to the Premises Security audit one Member thought that asking for security to escort public from council meetings was an additional expense not needed.  The Chairman stated that the council chamber and the Ashcombe Suite were secure area and not open to the public and thought that there should be two security assigned to escorting the public from and to public meetings.

    3.     Members discussed the DOLS audit and were very concerned about the numbers of outstanding assessments and the number of wasted assessments done previously.  It was recognised that this situation had been as a result of a law court requirement, rather than Government, and asked if the council were talking to Government through local government bodies to try to address this situation.  The Audit Performance Manager reported that a follow-up audit would take place in 2018/19.  The Committee requested that the Committee be provided with updated figures, on the ones given in the report, to the next meeting of the Committee in April. It was also requested that the committee be given officers best estimate on the annual number of applications expected in future. 

    4.     The Committee were informed that the Overview and Budget Scrutiny Committee would be looking again at Surrey Choices.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    1.     That the Committee’s concerns be expressed to the Cabinet Member, Head of Service and Chairman of the Select Committee. (Tracker A5/18)

    2.     To have an item on the next agenda for the Committee to be provided with updated figures, on the ones given in the DOLS audit report. (Tracker A6/18)

     

    Resolved:

    1.     That the Committee’s concerns relating to the DOLS report be expressed to the Cabinet Member, Head of Service and Chairman of the Select Committee.

    2.     That an item be provided on the next agenda for the Committee to be provided with updated figures on the DOLS audit report.

11/18

DATE OF NEXT MEETING