Agenda and minutes

Audit & Governance Committee
Tuesday, 17 December 2019 10.30 am

Venue: Room 104, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN

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

Items
No. Item

49/19

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

50/19

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING - 26 September 2019 pdf icon PDF 100 KB

51/19

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.

52/19

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 (11 December 2019).

    2.  The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting (10 December 2019).

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

     

    Minutes:

    There were none.

53/19

RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER pdf icon PDF 98 KB

    To review the Committee’s recommendations tracker.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    David John, Audit Manager

    Zak Hussain, Interim Strategic Finance Manager (Corporate)

    Joss Butler, Committee Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     In regards to Action A2/19, the Audit Manager informed the Committee that the Children, Families & Learning Care Assessments follow-up audit was in its draft phase and officers hoped to circulate a final version by February or March 2020. Members noted that there had been improvements in the service and that the follow-up audit was expected to be positive. The Chairman asked that the action remain on the Actions Tracker.

    2.     In regards to Action A8/19, the Chairman informed the Committee that the issue had been reported to the Select Committee Chairman’s Group and no concerns were raised. The Committee agreed the mark the action as completed.

    3.     In regards to Action A11/19, the Interim Strategic Finance Manager informed Members that the risk review was completed in November 2019 and conducted by Gallagher Bassett. A final report was in the process of being collated and officers expected it to be part of the April 2020 Committee agenda. This would follow consideration by the Council’s Corporate Leadership Team.

    4.     Members had a discussion on whether Local and Joint Committees considered and tracked risks as part of their decision making processes. It was stated that, although the decisions made at Local Committees were focussed on local issues, the execution of the decisions were mostly the County Council’s responsibility and therefore it should be the County Council’s responsibility to track risks. The Chairman agreed to speak to the Cabinet portfolio holder responsible for Local and Joint Committees to ensure Local Committees reviewed risks when appropriate.

    5.     In regards to Action 13/19, the Audit Manager informed Members that the actions agreed from the last Pensions Administration audit were still not fully implemented due to the complexity and scale of the task.  As a result, rather than a follow-up audit being started in December as planned, it had been agreed with the service and with Finance that a position statement to assess the current position of implementation of agreed actions would provide appropriate assurance. This work will be started in January.

    6.     In regards to Action A15/19, the Committee Manager highlighted that all Select Committee dates until May 2020 had been circulated and Members were asked to confirm which meetings they would review. Members agreed to confirm outside the meeting. In regards to previous Select Committee meetings, Members made the following comments:

    a.     A Member recently attend a Resource & Performance Select Committee Task Group meeting and felt it was a positive. The Member highlighted that they felt Task Groups should encourage non-Task Group Members in attendance to interact with discussions.

    b.     During a Select Committee Meeting, a Member highlighted that the Select Committee’s Chairman was unable to secure an appropriate number of Members to join a Task Group. Following on from this, Members of the Audit and Governance Committee sought confirmation on whether a non-Select Committee Member was able to join a Select  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53/19

54/19

TREASURY MANAGEMENT MID YEAR REPORT pdf icon PDF 131 KB

    This report summarises the council’s treasury management activity during the first half of 2019/20, as required to ensure compliance with CIPFA’s Code of Practice for Treasury Management.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

     

    Witnesses:

    Zak Hussain, Interim Strategic Finance Manager (Corporate)

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     The Interim Strategic Finance Manager introduced the item and provided a brief summary of the report. Members noted that from 31 March 2019 to 30 September 2019 the net borrowing requirement for the Council increased by £19m, from £635m to £654m. External borrowing reduced by £11m from £666m to £655m. It was also noted that during the period £30m of external longer term borrowing was undertaken with the Public Works Loan Board. Officers further highlighted that, due to an underline weakness in the global economy, the Council’s financial advisors had advised that a short term borrowing strategy is followed over the next 12 months. In regards to investment, Members noted that the Council would continue to place cash in money market funds. Members further noted that the Treasury Management Strategy would be considered by the Committee in January 2020.

    2.     Members of the Committee asked whether the Council intended to modify the limits of the operational boundary to fulfil newer strategies such as the Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) Strategy. Officers confirmed that affordability assessments were undertaken which showed that the Council’s Strategies were able to operate within operational boundary.

    3.     Officers stated that consideration was being put into lowering the operational boundary as it was currently too high. Members advised against this as there was concern there would be slippage in the capital programme and therefore flexibility would be beneficial.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

     

    None.

     

    Resolved:

     

    The Audit & Governance Committee noted the content of the Treasury Management Half Year Report for 2019/20.

     

     

55/19

Internal Audit Progress Report - Quarter 2 (01/07/19 - 30/09/19) pdf icon PDF 93 KB

    The purpose of this progress report is to inform members of the work completed by Internal Audit between 1 July 2019 and 30 September 2019.

     

    The current annual plan for Internal Audit is contained within the Internal Audit Strategy and Annual Plan 2019-20, which was approved by Audit and Governance Committee on 8 April 2019.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    David John, Audit Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     The Audit Manager introduced the item and provided a brief summary of the report. Members noted that the report included a summary of nine full audit reports which had been previously circulated to Members. Officers stated that the general trend for audit outcomes were positive although there was one area of concern due to the Health and Safety audit receiving partial assurance. Members noted that the service response to the audit was positive as the new Head of Property was focusing on on Health and Safety and had put in place a number of improvements.

    2.     A Member of the Committee asked why three audits had receive no opinion. Officers provided an overview of each audit, as outlined in Appendix A, and explained that the reason no opinion was given was because the audits were either position statements or briefings for management.

    3.     In regards to the audit for the E-Recruitment System, Members asked whether the issue relating to the identification of an area that could be non-compliant with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements had been resolved. Officers confirmed that this was no longer an issue.

    4.     Members of the Committee discussed the reason why very few audits received substantial assurance. Members noted that the Audit Service sought to always improve the area being audited and so it was unlikely to receive a perfect evaluation.

    5.     Members noted that an assessment of the progress made following the Health and Safety Audit was likely to take place in January or February 2020.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

     

    None.

     

    Resolved:

     

    The Committee noted the report.

     

56/19

2018/19 AUDIT FINDINGS REPORT AND ANNUAL STATEMENT OF ACCOUNTS FOR S. E. BUSINESS SERVICES LTD, SURREY CHOICES LTD & HALSEY GARTON PROPERTY LTD pdf icon PDF 129 KB

57/19

EXTERNAL AUDIT UPDATE REPORT pdf icon PDF 100 KB

    This paper provides the Committee with a report on Grant Thornton’s progress in delivering their responsibilities as the Council’s external auditors.  The paper also includes a summary of emerging national issues and developments.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Tom Beake, Grant Thornton 

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     The representative from Grant Thornton introduced the item and provided a summary of the report. Members noted that the report aimed to update the Committee on progress and that key details were found on pages 128 and 129 of the agenda.

    2.     Members of the Committee discussed a recent news article regarding a development in Surrey and asked whether there was a process to externally audit a development or service following public interest. A Member of the Committee highlighted that a Cabinet Member had previously confirmed that there was a process in place to assess and reappraise previous decisions. It was stated that this process was to consider whether the developments outcome met expectations with the aim to continuously improve.

    3.     Members asked whether the Committee would have an opportunity to review the Council’s Statement of Accounts before publication. The Strategic Finance Business Partner agreed to provide a response outside of the meeting. 

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

     

    A18/19 - Members asked whether the Committee would have an opportunity to review the Council’s Statement of Accounts before publication. The Strategic Finance Business Partner agreed to provide a response outside of the meeting. 

     

    Resolved:

     

    The Committee noted the report.

     

     

58/19

Local Firefighters' Pensions Board pdf icon PDF 192 KB

    The Committee is being asked to approve a change to the Terms of Reference of the Surrey Local Firefighters’ Pensions Board to allow members to delegate attendance to substitutes.

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Cllr Nick Harrison, Chairman of the Local Firefighters’ Pension Board 

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     The Chairman of the Local Firefighters’ Pension Board introduced the item and provided an outline of the report. Members noted that the report asked that the Committee agree to the changes to the Terms of Reference to allow Local Firefighters’ Pension Board Members to delegate attendance.

    2.     Members noted that substitutes would be required to complete an online test related to the law related to pensions and other relevant information.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

     

    None.

     

    Resolved:

     

    The Committee approved the changes to the Terms of Reference to allow Local Firefighters’ Pension Board Members to delegate attendance.

     

     

59/19

DATE OF NEXT MEETING