Agenda and draft minutes

Audit and Governance Committee - Monday, 17th January 2022 6.30 pm

Venue: Civic Suite, North Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester, GL1 2EP

Contact: Democratic and Electoral Services 

Items
No. Item

32.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

33.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 119 KB

Minutes:

In response to a query from the Chair regarding the new format for audit reports, the Head of Audit, Risk and Assurance (ARA) confirmed that new processes had commenced, that summaries will be provided as a matter of course unless requested otherwise and that there would be a period of transition while the new processes were implemented.

 

It was further confirmed, with reference to the possibility that a ‘kickstarter’ apprentice be employed to examine smaller VAT claims that this scheme would be looked into.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on Monday 15 November 2021 were approved and signed as a correct record by the Chair.

 

34.

Public Question Time (15 minutes)

The opportunity is given to members of the public to put questions to Cabinet Members or Committee Chairs provided that a question does not relate to:

 

·           Matters which are the subject of current or pending legal proceedings or

·           Matters relating to employees or former employees of the Council or comments in respect of individual Council Officers.

 

To ask a question at this meeting, please submit it to democratic.services@gloucester.gov.uk by 12pm on Wednesday 12 January 2022 or telephone 01452 396203 for support.

 

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

 

35.

Petitions and Deputations (15 minutes)

 

 

A period not exceeding three minutes is allowed for the presentation of a petition or deputation provided that no such petition or deputation is in relation to:

 

·           Matters relating to individual Council Officers, or

·           Matters relating to current or pending legal proceedings

 

To present a petition or deputation at this meeting, please submit it to democratic.services@gloucester.gov.uk by 12pm on Wednesday 12 January or telephone 01452 396203 for support.

 

 

36.

GRANTS AUDIT REPORT

To receive a verbal report concerning grants provided during 2021-22

 

Minutes:

The Director of Policy and Resources informed Members that a draft had been received that day and that the final report was pending. He confirmed that it to the form of a housing benefit audit and that, were there to be any adjustments, this could affect any subsidy received.

 

RESOLVED that: - The Audit and Governance Committee NOTE the update.

 

37.

APPOINTMENT OF EXTERNAL AUDITOR pdf icon PDF 127 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Policy and Resources appointing the Council’s external auditor.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

         

32.1       The Director of Policy and Resources outlined the report regarding procuring the external auditor to take effect as of 2023/24 and that the appointment was required by 31 December 2022. He stated that it needed to be made clear that the Council would opt in to the public sector procurement process. The Director also advised that alternative courses were not likely to be as efficient.

 

32.2       The Chair agreed that opting in to the procurement process was a sensible course of action and noted that the final decision would be taken at the next Council meeting.

 

RESOLVED that: - the Audit and Governance Committee endorse and RECOMMEND to Council the option to opt-in to the Public Sector Audit Appointments Ltd (PSAA) for the appointment of the Council’s External Auditors from 2023/24.

 

38.

APPOINTMENT OF INDEPENDENT MEMBER

To receive an update on the process to appoint an independent Member to the Committee.

 

Minutes:

The Director of Policy and Resources informed Members that the recruitment of an independent Member would be progressed so they were in place for the next municipal year. In response to a question from Councillor Pullen as to why there would be an independent Member, the Head of ARA clarified that it had been recommended that all audit committees have an independent Member and that it was likely that this would become mandatory in the future.

 

RESOLVED that: - The Audit and Governance Committee NOTE the update.

 

39.

INTERNAL AUDIT ACTIVITY PROGRESS REPORT pdf icon PDF 114 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Audit, Risk and Assurance in respect of progress made against the audit plan.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

32.1       The Head of ARA provided an overview of internal audit activity and advised that ongoing work had been temporarily suspended due to IT issues. Of audits where assurance was sought, three had been completed – Accounts receivable, Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) and the certification of 2021 election accounts. The Principal Auditor also advised that anti-fraud work had been continuing. Eight cases had been identified and of these, four had been closed.

 

32.2       In response to a query from the Chair regarding accounts receivable, the Principal Auditor confirmed that this was in respect of goods and services and not the collection of council tax. With regard to DFGs, the Principal Auditor further confirmed that the audit was to ensure figures provided were accurate.

 

32.3       Councillor Pullen asked, in relation to the election accounts, whether the Returning Officer received three fees, there having been three elections. The Principal Auditor confirmed that there was one fee but made up of three distinct claims. In respect of a special fraud investigation, the Principal Auditor stated that full details would be provided to the Committee.

 

32.4       The Chair noted that there were five active audits which would need to be carried forward. The Principal Auditor advised that these would be examined on a case by case basis and that some were close to completion.

 

RESOLVED that: - The Audit and Governance Committee

 

(1) Accept the progress against the Internal Audit Plan 2021/22; and

 

(2)  Accept the assurance opinions provided in relation to the effectiveness of the Council’s control environment (comprising risk management, control and governance arrangements).

 

40.

STRATEGIC RISK REGISTER UPDATE pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Audit, Risk and Assurance providing an update on the Strategic Risk Register.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

32.1       The Head of ARA presented the report and outlined the purpose of the risk register. He advised that a review of risk management was being undertaken and, where appropriate, areas would be enhanced.

 

32.2       Councillor Pullen noted that the Council’s target was to be carbon neutral by 2030 and that the City be carbon neutral by 2045. Whilst this was referred to in the report, he queried why it did not appear explicitly in the risk register. The Director of Policy and Resources explained that, as it was a key policy area the Council was working towards, it was not necessary to include as a risk on its own. The suggestion from Councillor Norman that it be included in the description of risk 1.13 (regarding the Council Plan) was agreed by the committee.

 

RESOLVED that: - The Audit and Governance Committee NOTE and ENDORSE the strategic risk register.

 

41.

ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT IMPROVEMENT PLAN 2021/22 UPDATE pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To receive an update on the improvement plan.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered the update. The Chair noted that the Climate Change Strategy and Property investments were due to be reviewed and sought clarity on whether these could be completed within the timescale. The Principal Auditor advised that he would examine whether this was possible and that they may be carried forward. The Director of Policy and Resources stated the property investment had been considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at a recent meeting.

 

RESOLVED that: - The Audit and Governance Committee NOTE the report.

 

42.

EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC

To RESOLVE that:  

 

The press and public be excluded from the meeting during the following item of business on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public are present during consideration of this item there will be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 as amended.  

 

Agenda Item No. 

 

13  

 

Description of Exempt Information:                      

 

Paragraph 3: Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information). 

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that:  

 

The press and public be excluded from the meeting during the following item of business on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public are present during consideration of this item there will be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Schedule 12A (para. 3) of the Local Government Act 1972 as amended.  

 

43.

IT SYSTEMS UPDATE

To receive an update from the Head of Policy and Resources.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED: - As per the exempt minutes.

 

44.

Audit and Governance Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To consider the work programme.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that: - The Audit and Governance Committee NOTE the work programme.

 

45.

Date of Next Meeting

7 March 2022 at 6.30pm, Civic Suite, North Warehouse

Minutes:

7 March 2022 at 6.30pm in the Civic Suite, North Warehouse