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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Tewkesbury Borough Council Offices, Severn Room

Contact: Democratic Services Tel: 01684 272021  Email:  Democraticservices@tewkesbury.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

20.

Announcements

When the continuous alarm sounds you must evacuate the building by the nearest available fire exit. Members and visitors should proceed to the visitors’ car park at the front of the building and await further instructions (staff should proceed to their usual assembly point. Please do not re-enter the building unless instructed to do so.

 

In the event of a fire any person with a disability should be assisted in leaving the building.

Minutes:

20.1          The evacuation procedure, as noted on the Agenda, was advised to those present.

21.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

To receive apologies for absence and advise of any substitutions. 

Minutes:

21.1          Apologies for absence were received from Councillors H C McLain (Vice-Chair), P McLain and H S Munro.  Councillors D W Gray and M L Jordan would be acting as substitutes for the meeting. 

22.

Declarations of Interest

Pursuant to the adoption by the Council on 26 June 2012 of the Tewkesbury Borough Council Code of Conduct, effective from 1 July 2012, as set out in Minute No. CL.34, Members are invited to declare any interest they may have in the business set out on the Agenda to which the approved Code applies.

Minutes:

22.1          The Committee’s attention was drawn to the Tewkesbury Borough Council Code of Conduct which was adopted by the Council on 26 June 2012 and took effect from 1 July 2012.

22.2          There were no declarations made on this occasion. 

23.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 162 KB

To approve the Minutes of the meeting held on 24 July 2019.

Minutes:

23.1          The Minutes of the meeting held on 24 July 2019, copies of which had been circulated, were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair. 

24.

Audit and Governance Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 253 KB

To consider the Audit and Governance Committee Work Programme.  

Minutes:

24.1          Attention was drawn to the Audit and Governance Committee Work Programme, circulated at Pages No. 11-18, which Members were asked to consider. 

24.2          The Head of Corporate Services advised that the revised Whistleblowing Policy would be added to the Agenda for the meeting on 11 December 2019 and the Work Programme would be updated accordingly.  The representative from Grant Thornton indicated that the External Auditor’s Certification Year End Letter March 2019 currently appeared on the Work Programme for both the December 2019 and March 2020 meetings and she confirmed it would only need to go to the December meeting.

24.3          A Member questioned whether there had been any changes to prior years in terms of the scope of the work and was advised that the items of business were generally the same with a number of standard reports presented on a regular basis, e.g. the Internal Audit Plan Monitoring Report and Six Month Plan; notwithstanding this, additional items did come forward such as the Local Authority Serious and Organised Crime Checklist, which had been added to the Agenda for the meeting in December but had not been included in the Work Programme for 2018/19, and the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy which was on the Agenda for the current meeting and was reviewed every three years.  The Member queried whether any items had arisen as a result of failings or recommendations and the Head of Corporate Services confirmed that these tended to be picked up in the Internal Audit Monitoring Report which included an appendix on outstanding recommendations arising from internal audits.  He clarified that there had been no ‘unsatisfactory’ audit opinions last year.  In response to a query regarding the Local Authority Serious and Organised Crime Checklist, the Head of Corporate Services explained that this had been identified as an improvement when the Corporate Management Team had gone through the process of compliance with the checklist and it would be brought to the Committee in December to give assurance to Members that it was progressing as it should be.

24.4          It was

RESOLVED          That the Audit and Governance Committee Work Programme be NOTED subject to the following amendments:

-     11 December 2019 – Additional item to consider the revised Whistleblowing Policy; and

-     25 March 2020 – Removal of ‘External Auditor’s Certification Year End Letter March 2019’.

25.

Counter Fraud and Anti-Corruption Policy pdf icon PDF 126 KB

To recommend to the Executive Committee that the updated Counter Fraud and Anti-Corruption Policy be approved and that authority be delegated to the Head of Finance and Asset Management to approve future minor amendments in consultation with appropriate Officers, One Legal and the Lead Member for Corporate Governance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

25.1          Attention was drawn to the report of the Head of Finance and Asset Management, circulated at Pages No. 19-36, which highlighted the proposed changes to the Counter Fraud and Anti-Corruption Policy.  Members were asked to recommend to the Executive Committee that the updated policy be approved and that authority be delegated to the Head of Finance and Asset Management to approve future minor amendments in consultation with appropriate Officers, One Legal and the Lead Member for Corporate Governance.

25.2          The Counter Fraud Manager advised that the Counter Fraud and Corruption Policy had last been considered by the Audit Committee in September 2016 and had now been amended to reflect changes to data protection legislation following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation.  The Chair thanked the Counter Fraud Manager on behalf of the Committee for the continued work of the Counter Fraud Unit and it was

RESOLVED          That it be RECOMMENDED TO THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE that the revised Counter Fraud and Corruption Policy be APPROVED and that authority be delegated to the Head of Finance and Asset Management to approve future minor amendments in consultation with appropriate Officers, One Legal and the Lead Member for Corporate Governance.

26.

Annual Audit Letter 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 447 KB

To consider the external auditors’ Audit Letter 2018/19. 

Minutes:

26.1          Attention was drawn to Grant Thornton’s Annual Audit Letter 2018/19, circulated at Pages No. 37-50.  Members were asked to consider the report. 

26.2          The representative from Grant Thornton explained that the Annual Audit Letter summarised the key findings from the audit of the financial statements and the work on the value for money conclusion that had been carried out for the year ending March 2019.  All of the matters had been presented to the Committee during the course of the year and the letter was a succinct document which was designed to communicate key messages to stakeholders.  In response to a query regarding the valuation of the net pension liability which had been identified as a significant risk, Members were informed that the figures were immaterial in the context of the total amount and it was an evolving picture so this was a best estimate.  A Member questioned whether everyone was familiar with the concept of materiality and sought clarification as to how the £750,000 had been arrived at.  The representative from Grant Thornton explained that materiality for the audit of the financial statements had been set at £750,000 which was approximately 2% of the Council’s gross revenue expenditure; a lower threshold of £37,000 had been set for reporting of errors, i.e. anything above that would be reported to the Committee, as that was material in her view.  It was noted that Tewkesbury Borough Council was at the lower end of the risk profile.  The Member went on to indicate that it was his understanding that Grant Thornton had a high level of confidence that, if the financial statements were mis-stated by more than £750,000, this would be identified through testing but he pointed out that it could be mis-stated up to that level and that would not necessarily be picked up.   In response, the representative from Grant Thornton advised that a statistical sample did not include anything below £750,000 which was why additional sampling was undertaken behind the scenes and it was the cumulative impact of all errors which was assessed against the level of tolerance.  In response to a query, the representative from Grant Thornton confirmed that materiality was set at an appropriate level for a local authority of Tewkesbury Borough Council’s size; this was generally kept as simple as possible i.e. as a percentage of overall spend.

26.3          It was

RESOLVED          That the Grant Thornton Annual Audit Letter 2018/19 be NOTED.

27.

Annual Health and Safety Report pdf icon PDF 293 KB

To consider the annual report on the Council’s health and safety arrangements. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

27.1          The report of the Head of Community Services, circulated at Pages No. 51- 69, provided a summary of the activities carried out to secure health and safety compliance in the financial year 2018/19.  Members were asked to consider the report.

27.2          The Head of Community Services advised that the health and safety report was presented to the Committee on an annual basis to allow Members to consider health and safety arrangements across the organisation and those of its contractors and partners.  Health and safety and wellbeing was managed via the Keep Safe, Stay Healthy Group which was chaired by the Deputy Chief Executive and attended by senior managers as well as the Lead Member for Organisational Development.  The report itself, attached at Appendix 1, was both backward and forward looking with key achievements from the last 12 months highlighted at Page No. 59 and a summary of the good work that had been done throughout the year set out at Page No. 60 which included a considerable amount of training.  There were a number of policies/procedures related to health and safety and it was noted that these were reviewed on a rolling three year programme.  Members were reminded that health and safety was not just about the physical aspects, mental wellbeing was an important consideration and a significant amount of work had been carried out with HR in relation to that which would continue over the coming year.  The Council also had a duty to monitor health and safety of contractors, particularly the larger ones such as the leisure centre and Ubico which were highest risk.  Ubico had recently achieved the Occupational Health and Safety standard ISO45001 which provided a framework for organisations to instigate proper and effective management of health and safety in the workplace.  It was noted that the Council was also responsible for the management and monitoring of the Materials Recovery Facility contract with Suez Resource and Recovery Ltd. which was based in Avonmouth.  The Health and Safety Work Plan for 2019/20 was attached at Pages No. 67-69 of the report.

27.3          A Member noted there had been a spike in the number of personal accidents/incidents relating to waste, street cleansing and grounds maintenance in December 2018 and he asked if this was weather-related and how it compared to previous years.  The Head of Community Services explained that, unfortunately, Ubico had not been monitoring health and safety as well as it should have been and had reported only four accidents during 2018/19 which was highly likely to be an under-estimate purely due to the nature of the service; he gave assurance Officers were confident that had now been addressed and accurate figures would be provided for 2019/20.  The Chair felt that the majority of information within the report was encouraging and he made particular reference to the positive reactions to the way staff had responded to an incident which had been subject to RIDDOR reporting (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013).  Staff  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

Corporate Risk Register pdf icon PDF 147 KB

To consider the risks contained within the corporate risk register and assurance that the risks are being effectively managed. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

28.1          The report of the Head of Corporate Services, circulated at Pages No. 70-90, asked Members to consider the risks contained within the corporate risk register and assurance that the risks were being effectively managed.

28.2          Members were advised that the corporate risk register was a high-level tool which helped management to consider what the corporate risks were and how they were being managed.  The scoring was based on three stages: gross risk score – the inherent risk without any mitigating controls in place; current risk score – the assessed risk after the application of controls; and target risk score – the proposed risk score by applying future controls if the current risk score was deemed to be too high.  The register was used to inform the Internal Audit Plan as risks were followed-up to give the Committee assurance that controls were in place and working effectively.  It was presented to the Corporate Management Team on a monthly basis and further reviewed by the Corporate Governance Group.  The register was attached at Appendix 1 to the report; it was noted that each risk had a designated owner who was accountable for the risk and a comments box to update Members.  The key actions arising since the register was last presented to the Committee in July were set out at Page No. 72, Paragraph 3.1 of the report.  With regard to Ref. 3 – Cyber Security, Members were advised that awareness training had been arranged for Members in October, the Executive Committee had recently approved a new two year post within the IT team and a new firewall was being procured.  In terms of Ref. 7 – Waste Partnership, it was noted that a Depot Services Working Group had been established by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee with the intention of dealing with all Ubico issues in one place and these meetings would be attended by the Lead Member and the Chair of Audit and Governance Committee.  With respect to Ref. 8 – Asset Management, Members were informed that the refurbishment of the vacant ground floor space at the rear of the west wing was now complete and being occupied by the County Council which had signed a new long term lease for all areas of occupation within the Public Services Centre.  It was noted that Ref. 6 – Emergency Planning and Ref. 13 – Fraud and Corruption had both been added to the corporate risk register as part of the work undertaken during the last quarter.  The findings of the emergency planning audit were contained within the Internal Audit Monitoring Report which was the next item on the Agenda.  In terms of emergency planning, whilst there was confidence that the Council was fulfilling its duties, it was recommended that a training programme be formalised and properly documented and a schedule of test exercises carried out.   In addition, it was considered that all members of the response team should be provided with a mobile telephone and the Resilience Direct network should  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.

29.

Internal Audit Plan Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To consider the Internal Audit work undertaken and the assurance given on the adequacy of internal controls operating in the systems audited.  

Additional documents:

Minutes:

29.1          The report of the Head of Corporate Services, circulated at Pages No. 91-112, summarised the work undertaken by the Internal Audit team since the last Committee.  Members were asked to consider the audit work completed and the assurance given on the adequacy of internal controls operating in the systems audited.

29.2          The Head of Corporate Services advised that the full details of the audits undertaken were attached at Appendix 1 to the report and two of those - emergency planning and the fraud and corruption framework - had already been discussed under the previous Agenda Item.  A list of audit recommendations that were due to be followed-up could be found at Appendix 2 to the report; of the 24 recommendations, 10 had been implemented, 11 partially implemented and three were yet to be implemented.  It was noted that revised implementation dates had been agreed for those recommendations which were partially, or yet to be, implemented. 

29.3          With regard to the debtors audit, Members were informed that the key financial systems were always well managed and resulted in good opinions which was reflected in the external auditors’ reports.  There was a good level of assurance that invoices raised were correctly coded and that systems were properly reconciled with regular updates to budget holders.  An audit had also been carried out in relation to the serious and organised crime framework; whilst Tewkesbury Borough was a low risk area, this was a serious problem which cost the UK more than £24 billion per year.   Whilst there was a satisfactory level of assurance that hackney carriage and private hire driver licensing processes gave consideration to the serious and organised crime framework, there were procedural issues which could be sharpened up, for example, all renewal applications were verified by two Officers and it was recommended that those checks were demonstrated on the software system to show the separation of duties.  The second recommendation related to Disclosure and Barring Service (DSB) checks which were not consistently demonstrated for operator applications.  In addition, the data filled in on the system needed to be enhanced to demonstrate that safeguarding training had been completed by all licensed drivers in accordance with policy which required this to be undertaken within six months of the licence being granted.  It was also recommended that a regular sample check of hackney carriage and private hire driver, vehicle and operator licences should be undertaken to ensure that all information had been accurately recorded into the software system and that all procedures were being followed correctly.  It was noted that the Council’s Constitution delegated the granting of a licence to the Licensing Officer with any potential refusal to be submitted to the Licensing Sub-Committee for determination; however, in 2018, two refused applications had not been submitted to a Licensing Sub-Committee so the recommendation around spot-checks should ensure a consistent approach in future.  With regard to revoking a licence, the Senior Licensing Officer had indicated that this was rare with only three recorded between 2007  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.

30.

Internal Audit Six Month Plan 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 243 KB

To approve the Internal Audit Six Month Plan 2019/20 (October-March). 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

30.1          The report of the Head of Corporate Services, circulated at Pages No. 113-118, set out the proposed Internal Audit Plan for October 2019 to March 2020.  Members were asked to approve the six month plan as set out at Appendix 1 to the report.

30.2           The Head of Corporate Services advised that a six month work plan had been introduced following a recommendation arising from the independent peer review; a six month plan was more flexible than a 12 month plan and allowed the Internal Audit team to progress the organisation.  The plan for October 2019 to March 2020 provided a total of 172 productive days and would cover: governance related activity; corporate risk register; corporate improvement; financial systems; and, service area related activity.  Days had been specifically allocated to risk management following a recommendation arising from an external assessment; the serious and organised crime framework which had been recommended by the Home Office; complaints which had been discussed at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting the previous week; and, data quality.  In terms of finance, as well as service related debt recovery, the Head of Finance and Asset Management had requested that an audit be carried out on commercial credit cards.  It was noted that 20 days had been allocated for corporate improvement and 20 days for the corporate risk register.  A number of days had also been set aside for ongoing work to implement the team’s Quality Assurance and Improvement Programme which included the peer review of individual audit assignments and supporting documentation.  Follow-up reviews were an important aspect of internal audit work and 15 days had been allocated for this purpose in the six month period.  In addition, the Internal Audit team also provided consultancy and advice and sat on various corporate groups such as the Procurement Group, Keep Safe Stay Healthy Group and Programme Board with days allocated in the plan accordingly.

30.3           The Chair suggested it may be beneficial to hold a workshop for the Committee to discuss items that they might like to see included in the six month plan.  The Head of Corporate Services advised that the Internal Audit team had run a workshop previously to demonstrate the work that went into an audit and it may be useful to repeat this for new Members.  A Member suggested that this could be held prior to the next Committee meeting in December as he had some specific questions and it would be useful to have an opportunity to raise them outside of a meeting environment and to have some general discussions to share ideas.  It was subsequently

RESOLVED          1. That the Internal Audit Six Month Plan 2019/20 be NOTED.

2. That a workshop be arranged to take place prior to the next meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee in December to gain a better understanding of audit processes and procedures and to allow Members to ask specific questions and share ideas as to what might be included in the internal audit  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.