To receive the Head of Audit Risk and Assurance’s Annual Report on Internal Audit Activity.
7.1 The Head of Audit Risk and Assurance (ARA) outlined the work undertaken by the internal audit team throughout the year and further outlined that internal audit provided opinions on risk management as well as a comparison of work undertaken.
7.2 Internal Audit work was carried out in accordance with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) 2017 and the CIPFA Local Government Application Note for the UK PSIAS. The Head of ARA also confirmed that there had, overall, been a satisfactory opinion and confirmed that no limitations had been placed on internal audit’s work.
7.3 Throughout the year, 93% of the revised plan was achieved against a target of 85% and the Head of ARA thanked the Principal Auditor and the wider team for this achievement. The Head of ARA reported that the service had been able to provide a dividend to the Council. He also confirmed that a piece of risk management work would be undertaken to strengthen the position in that area of work. In response to a query from the Chair regarding an independent review into risk management practices, the Head of ARA clarified that this was not a PSIAS requirement but was in order for him to familiarise with current practices having only recently joined the service.
7.4 Following a query from Councillor Bowkett the Head of ARA confirmed that the waste audit had been received and would be included in the Annual Governance Statement.
7.5 Councillor Pullen queried how such terms as ‘substantial’, ‘satisfactory’ and ‘limited’ assurance were formulated. The Head of ARA confirmed that these were of standard use and definitions were provided. He further advised that benchmarking with other Councils would also take place.
7.6 Councillor Pullen noted the rapidity with which business grants were administered and asked how it was ascertained what the funds were spent on. The Head of ARA noted that the grants were available for a wide range of uses and at the discretion of the business owner.
7.7 The Chair noted that the whistleblowing policy was described as fit for purposes but that elsewhere it was referred to the fact that further work needed to be undertaken. The Principal Auditor advised that is was a robust policy and that the changes referred to were in order to reflect best practice.
7.8 With regards to debt in the culture portfolio, the Chair queried whether further actions were to be completed to recover ‘aged’ debt. The Principal Auditor confirmed that the number of aged debts were considerably fewer and that a wider piece of work would be undertaken to assess aged debt and to improve the position.
7.9 RESOLVED that: - The Audit and Governance Committee
Assessed, from the findings set out in this Annual
Report on Internal Audit Activity 2020/21, whether it can take
reasonable assurance that the internal control environment,
comprising risk management, control and governance is operating
Note that the performance of Internal Audit meets
the required standards; and
(3) Note the Council wide counter fraud activity during 2020/21 which includes the fraud reporting requirements as mandated by the Local Government Transparency Code 2015.