Agenda and minutes

Audit & Governance Committee
Thursday, 27 September 2018 10.30 am

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

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

Items
No. Item

46/18

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

47/18

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING: 26 JULY 2018 pdf icon PDF 153 KB

48/18

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:

    Edward Hawkins declared a non-pecuniary interest in item 9 as he was the Surrey County Council (SCC) appointed Director of Halsey Garton Property Investment Ltd.

     

49/18

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 (21 September 2018).

    2.  The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting (20 September 2018).

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

     

    Minutes:

    There were none.

50/18

RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER pdf icon PDF 97 KB

    To review the Committee’s recommendations tracker.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    David John, Audit Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     Action A1/17 – The Chairman confirmed that he had discussed the matter with the Chairman of the Corporate Overview Select Committee and raised the concerns of the Committee.

    2.     Action A8/18 – The Audit Manager informed the Committee that officers were reassessing the risk register process and that they had been made aware of the Committees concerns.

    3.     Action 16/18 – the Audit Manager confirmed that he had followed up on the police investigation but had not yet recevied a full response.  

     

    Action/Further information to note:

     

    None.

     

    RESOLVED:

     

    That the committee noted the report.

     

51/18

ANNUAL COMPLAINTS PERFORMANCE REPORT pdf icon PDF 359 KB

    The purpose of this report is to give the Audit & Governance Committee an overview of the Council’s complaint handling performance in 2017/18 and to demonstrate how feedback from customers has been used to improve services.

     

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

     

    Sarah Bogunovic, Customer Relations and Service Improvement Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1. Officers introduced the report and provided Members with a brief summary. It was noted that there were three different complaints procedures in the Council; one for Children, Families and Learning, one for Adult Social Care and one for all other Council services. Members further noted that the volume of complaints did not in itself indicate the quality of the Council’s complaints handling performance, as the Council wanted to be an open, learning organisation that encouraged feedback. Instead, escalation rates and uphold rates were considered to be a better measure of performance as they indicated where complaints had been unable to be resolved and fault had been found. A new early intervention approach had been introduced to address concerns that could be dealt with to the customer’s satisfaction rather than go through the complaints procedure unnecessarily. Analysis had shown that there was a 15% decrease in complaints from the previous year and only 9% of early intervention cases had escalated to the complaints procedure. This suggested that the early intervention approach had been successful in preventing the unnecessary escalation of complaints.
    2. Members noted that the Council had received exactly double the number of compliments than complaints.
    3. Members praised the future implementation of a new customer feedback system as it would allow Members to track how residents felt about council services and give them an overview of compliments and complaints relevant to their electoral divisions. Members noted that the intention was for customer feedback information to be accessed through a real-time dashboard.
    4. Officers confirmed that financial redress payments made through the complaints procedure were separate from the insurance and claims process and paid to customers where the actions (or inaction) of the Council had resulted in a verified financial loss. It was further noted that any payment over £1000 was required to be signed off by the head of service and relevant Cabinet Member.
    5. Members raised concern that the number of compliments noted in the report may not be a true reflection due to officers not recording compliments received. Officers understood this concern and agreed that some officers might not be willing to record compliments as they felt they were just doing their job. They explained that a standard definition had been put in place to allow officers to understand exactly what was considered to be a compliment. To further streamline the process, the new customer feedback system would give staff a single point of access to easily record compliments.
    6. Members highlighted the benefits of providing a ratio of customer contacts compared to the number of complaints, as it was felt this would help to provide context to the number of complaints received. Officers agreed to consider new ways of visualising the data in future reports to provide appropriate context.
    7. A short discussion was had relating to the top three complaint areas for the Council where Members suggested possible reasons for resident feedback.
    8. Concern was raised over  ...  view the full minutes text for item 51/18

52/18

INTERNAL AUDIT PROGRESS REPORT - QUARTER 1 (01/04/18 - 30/06/18) pdf icon PDF 127 KB

    The purpose of this progress report is to inform Members of the work completed by Internal Audit between 1 April 2018 and 30 June 2018.

     

    The current annual plan for Internal Audit is contained within the Internal Audit Strategy and Annual Plan 2018-19, which was approved by Audit and Governance Committee on 12 April 2018.

     

    This progress report also includes, at Appendix C, a revised Audit Charter updated following the external assessment of Orbis Internal Audit by the South West Audit Partnership. It contains a revision at paragraph 6 relating to the appointment and removal of the Chief Internal Auditor.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

     

    David John, Audit Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     Officers introduced the report and provided Members with a brief summary. Members noted Recommendation B which asked Members to agree the revised Audit Charter following an external assessment of Orbis Internal Audit by the South West Audit Partnership. Following a short discussion, The Committee decided to consider Recommendation B separately where it was agreed. 

    2.     Officers felt positive about the action tracking of the internal audits as each manager was making the changes previously agreed. Due to recent vacancies in the Audit team, it was highlighted that the internal audit plan would need to be reconsidered to priorities which audits the team had the resource to conduct.

    3.     Members discussed current issues relating to employees not following the correct process when recording transport expense costs. When discussing a solution, Members were reassured that work was being conducted with senior officers to improve the process for reimbursement to make it in line with the current work practices. It was highlighted that it was a Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) policy to evidence fuel purchasing with a full VAT receipt.

    4.     Members sought clarification on when the review of surplus property would be completed. Following a discussion, it was noted that the new director responsible for Property Services would be reconsidering the property structure and releasing information soon. Members stated that they would follow this up at the next meeting of the Committee.

    5.     Members expressed that they were pleased with the outcome of the review of Purchasing cards.

    6.     It was noted that an audit report on Initial Health Assessments would be circulated the following week.

    7.     A discussion was had regarding the Council’s and School’s compliance to General Data Projection Regulation (GDPR) requirements. Officers stated that they were satisfied actions were being undertaken to comply but they expected more work was needed to be done.

     

    Resolved:

     

    The Audit and Governance Committee:

     

    a.     noted the report

    b.     agreed the revision within the Audit Charter at Appendix C of the report.

     

     

     

53/18

EXTERNAL AUDIT PERFORMANCE REPORT 2017/18 AND KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 113 KB

    This report provides the Audit & Governance Committee with details of Grant Thornton’s performance during the last 12 months against the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) previously agreed and approved by this Committee in September 2017 and to agree KPIs for the 2018/19 audit.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Nicola O’Connor, Finance Manager

    Ciaran McLaughlin, Grant Thornton

    Marcus Ward, Grant Thornton

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     Officers introduced the report and provided Members with a brief Summary. It was noted that the report provided Members with details of Grant Thornton’s performance during the last 12 months against key performance indicators (KPIs) previously agreed by the Committee.

    2.     Members confirmed that they found the report helpful and would like to continue receiving it annually.

    3.     Some Members felt that more challenge was needed as year on year Grant Thornton had received 100% on each performance indictor. Officers noted this and highlighted  comments in Annex 1 which displayed that improvements could still be made. 

     

    Resolved:

     

    The Audit and Governance Committee considered the contents of the report in Annex 1 and approved the proposed KPIs for the 2018/19 audit in Annex 2.

54/18

ANNUAL AUDIT LETTER 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 113 KB

    The Council’s external auditors, Grant Thornton, are presenting their Annual Audit Letter in respect of the audit year 2017/18 (Annex 1). This report summarises the key messages and findings arising from the work carried out at the Council for the year ended 31 March 2018.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

     

    Nicola O’Connor, Finance Manager

    Ciaran McLaughlin, Grant Thornton

    Marcus Ward, Grant Thornton

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     Officers introduced the item where it was noted that the report summarised the key messages and findings that arose from work carried out for the Council year ending 31 March 2018.

    2.     Members were informed that the Value For Money (VFM) conclusion would be published within the next month as Grant Thornton were continuing to process the findings. Representatives from Grant Thornton highlighted that it was becoming more common to publish late VFM conclusions as they have become more challenging to complete.

    3.     Members of the Committee sought clarity on the Council’s position relating to auto-enrolment for County Councillors into the pensions scheme. It was asked whether Councillors should be considered as ‘job holders’ and therefore be entitled to the scheme. Representatives from Grant Thornton stated that this was a legal matter and suggested legal advice was sought. 

     

    Resolved:

     

    The Audit and Governance Committee noted the contents of the Annual Audit Letter,

55/18

DATE OF NEXT MEETING