Agenda and minutes

Audit and Governance Committee
Thursday, 23rd January, 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Christchurch BH23 1AZ. View directions

Contact: Bob Hanton  Email: democratic.services@bcpcouncil.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

52.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence from Councillors.

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

53.

Substitute Members

To receive information on any changes in the membership of the Committee.

 

Note – When a member of a Committee is unable to attend a meeting of a Committee or Sub-Committee, the relevant Political Group Leader (or their nominated representative) may, by notice to the Monitoring Officer (or their nominated representative) prior to the meeting, appoint a substitute member from within the same Political Group. The contact details on the front of this agenda should be used for notifications.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

54.

Declarations of Interests

Councillors are required to comply with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011 and the Council's Code of Conduct regarding Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.

Councillors are also required to disclose any other interests where a Councillor is a member of an external body or organisation where that membership involves a position of control or significant influence, including bodies to which the Council has made the appointment in line with the Council's Code of Conduct.

Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.

Minutes:

Councillor L Williams declared an interest as a Board member of the Russell Coates Management Committee but participated in the discussion and voting.

55.

Confirmation of Minutes pdf icon PDF 185 KB

To confirm and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting held on 19 December 2019.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 19th December 2019 were confirmed as a correct record.

56.

Public Issues

To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution. Further information on the requirements for submitting these is available to view at the following link:-

https://democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/documents/s2305/Public%20Items%20-%20Meeting%20Procedure%20Rules.pdf 

The deadline for the submission of public questions is 16 January 2020.

The deadline for the submission of a statement is 12.00 noon, 22 January 2020.

The deadline for the submission of a petition is 12.00 noon, 22 January 2020.

Minutes:

There were no public issues.

57.

Annual Governance Statement (AGS) Action Plan Update pdf icon PDF 260 KB

This report provides an update against the BCP Council AGS Action Plan which identified actions to be taken to address the two significant governance issues identified from the legacy councils AGS. These were:

·       Information Governance (legacy Bournemouth and legacy Poole) – the BCP Information Governance Board in scheduled to meet for the first time in February 2020 to determine compliance arrangements

Governance issues raised in the Ofsted Inspection of Children’s Social Services (legacy Bournemouth) – good progress is being made against the ‘Children’s Service Development Improvement Plan’ which is being monitored by senior officers and Councillors.

Minutes:

The Head of Audit and Management Assurance presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'A' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

Members were reminded that, at the meeting of the Committee in July 2019, an action plan had been agreed to address two significant identified governance issues and that a progress report had been requested at the January 2020 meeting. These issues had both been inherited from the legacy Councils.

 

The Committee accordingly received an update report on progress made to date on the two identified issues namely Information Governance and on the issues raised in the Ofsted Inspection of Children’s Social Services. In response to questions, it was explained that membership of the Information Management Board included Corporate and Service Directors supported by Managers where necessary.

RESOLVED

That progress made to address governance issues on the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council Annual Governance Statement Action Plan 2019/20 be noted.

 

Voting: Unanimous

58.

Treasury Management Monitoring report for the period April to December 2019 and Treasury Management Strategy 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 261 KB

This report sets out the monitoring of the Council’s Treasury Management function for the period 1 April 2019 to 31 December 2019. A surplus of £110k will be achieved through higher investment returns.

The Treasury Management Strategy 2020/21 is included as an appendix to this report. Key changes to the strategy have been set out in paragraphs 25-29.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Finance Manager presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'B' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

The Committee was reminded of the requirements under the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (‘CIPFA’) Treasury Management Code of Practice that regular monitoring of the Treasury Management function was reported to Members.

 

The report provided monitoring information about treasury management activity from 1 April to 31 December 2019 and reported a surplus of £110k achieved through higher investment returns over the period. Set within the context of the economic background, the impact of interest rates and the approach to borrowing was set out. Members were provided with itemised schedules of borrowings and investments as at 31 December 2019.

The Treasury Management Strategy 2020/21 was also included as an appendix to the report and the requirement for annual approval of the strategy was explained. Key changes to the strategy were set out.

 

RESOLVED

 

a)    That the reported activity of the Treasury Management function for the period ending December 2109 be noted;

 

b)    That the Treasury Management Strategy 2020/21 be approved.

 

Voting: Unanimous

 

59.

Assurance Framework and Internal Audit Planning Consultation pdf icon PDF 299 KB

This report sets out the BCP Assurance Framework which identifies the different sources of assurance received across the Council.

The report also provides details of the proposed 2020/21 Internal Audit Plan approach.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Audit and Management Assurance presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'C' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

To comply with Audit Standards, the report set out the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council Assurance Framework and it was explained that the Framework identified the components which enabled the Council to satisfy itself that identified risks were being managed by adequately designed and effective controls. The Framework identified responsible Directorates against a schedule of assurance sources.

 

The report also provided details of the proposed 2020/21 Internal Audit Plan approach including detailed allocations of audit plan days against audit activity and comparison with the number of days allocated in the previous financial year. It was noted that the full Audit Plan would be agreed by the Committee at its meeting in April 2020.

 

The Committee also considered options for carrying out an external assessment and review of the Internal Audit service as required under Public Sector Internal Audit Standards to be undertaken once every five years. Although a range of providers were available, the assessment provided by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (‘CIPFA’) appeared to currently provide the best value for money. The Committee was of the view that assessment by CIPFA would provide a useful assessment alongside the potential for valuable accreditation of the service.

 

It was noted that the value of the assessment process would be assessed once completed and its benefit reviewed before using it in future years.

 

RESOLVED

 

a)    That the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council Assurance Framework be agreed;

 

b)    That, subject to the full Internal Audit Plan being referred to the Committee at its meeting in April the Internal Audit Plan approach for 2020/21 be agreed in draft;

 

c)    That an external assessment of the Internal Audit service be undertaken and a review of the process involved be brought to a future meeting of the Committee.

 

Voting: Unanimous

 

60.

Internal Audit Plan Update - April to December 2019 pdf icon PDF 400 KB

This report details progress made on delivery of the 2019/20 Audit Plan for the period 1 October to 31 December 2019.  The report highlights that:

·       Twenty seven audit assignments have been completed, one ‘Substantial’, nineteen ‘Reasonable’ and three ‘Partial’ audit opinions (four ‘other’);

·       Thirty audit assignments are in progress;

·       The implementation of audit recommendations by management is satisfactory;

One Whistleblowing investigation has been completed and one investigation is on-going. 

Minutes:

The Head of Audit and Management Assurance presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'D' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

This report set out details of progress made on delivery of the 2019/20 Internal Audit Plan for the period 1 October to 31 December 2019 and provided Members with assurance that the appropriate systems were in place. A total of 27 audit assignments were reported to have been completed and three partial audit opinions were reported. The 30 assignments in progress were listed for the information of the Committee. In response to questions, it was confirmed that particular focus was always placed upon high risk cash collection service. There was specific reference to the recommendations made as a result of the audit of Poole Market, of the system of Officer declarations of interest and the audit of Councillor IT equipment. It was also noted that one Whistleblowing investigation has been completed and that one investigation was on-going. 

RESOLVED

 

That Audit & Governance Committee note progress made and issues arising on the delivery of the 2019/20 Internal Audit Plan.

 

Voting: Unanimous

 

61.

Governance of Corporate Health & Safety and Fire Safety pdf icon PDF 279 KB

Following approval of the BCP Council Health & Safety and Fire Safety policies by BCP Council Programme Board on 28th February 2019, new governance arrangements have been implemented.  The first meeting of the Health & Safety and Fire Safety Board took place on 14th November 2019.

This report details progress made on the delivery of health & safety and fire safety governance arrangements for BCP Council and highlights: 

 

·            New governance arrangements (meetings and actions) 

that have been agreed that are being rolled out in 2020

·            Development of an action plan with tracking at each board meeting. 

·            BCP Council individual Health and Safety and Fire Safety policies have been agreed. A plan for the alignment of key supporting policies and procedures is due to commence. 

·            The Corporate Health and Safety Team and Fire Safety Team are located in the Communities Directorate. Restructure of Tiers 4 and 5 are complete, resulting in one BCP Health and Safety Manager and one BCP Fire Safety manager reporting to the Head of Regulatory.  

·            A comprehensive targeted training programme for both Health and Safety and Fire Safety is being designed, ahead of required implementation within 2020. 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Health and Safety and Fire Safety Managers presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'E' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

It was reported that, following approval of the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, Health & Safety and Fire Safety policies and new governance arrangements have been implemented and the first meeting of the Health & Safety and Fire Safety Board had taken place on 14th November 2019. The adopted Governance Framework had been circulated with the report and, in parallel, the process towards establishment of a single BCP Council staffing structure was described. Recruitment to complete the necessary resource was underway and, once in place, would enable proper discharge of the required functions including embedding Health and Safety within the wider governance framework.

 

Operational updates would be provided through development of links with service areas and high-risk areas had already been identified and a number of policy areas selected for priority attention. At the same time, advice on risk assessments was being provided to all service directorates and to schools. A comprehensive and targeted training programme was being designed for implementation during the year ahead.

 

The report also detailed progress made on the delivery of health & safety and fire safety governance arrangements and particularly the development of an action plan and mechanism for tracking progress at each Board meeting. The Framework also specified the relationship between the Board and the Audit and Governance Committee as well as the role and accountability of senior managers across the Council. The Chief Executive, who also chaired the Health and Safety Board, confirmed that the necessary resources would be deployed to ensure that the Council was able fully to discharge its responsibilities.

 

Although it was proposed and noted that an annual report would be made to the Committee, Members were of the opinion that an interim report six months after would be useful at this initial stage.

 

In response to questions, it was confirmed that any issues of urgency would be reported to the Committee as soon as they were known including the results and recommendations arising from, for example, the Grenfell Inquiry if there was a significant impact upon the Council.

 

The Committee concluded this item by recording their thanks to the Health and Safety and Fire Safety Managers for their work so far in setting up these arrangements.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the report on the progress achieved in setting up the governance arrangements for Corporate Health and Safety and Fire Safety be noted and that on-going arrangements be reported to the Committee annually except that in the initial implementation period an interim report be submitted to the Committee in six months.

 

Voting : Unanimous

 

62.

BCP Council - Declaration of Interests, Gifts and Hospitality Policy (for officers) pdf icon PDF 479 KB

For the 2019/20 financial year, the first operating year of BCP Council, legacy Council Declaration of Interests, gifts and hospitality policies and procedures have been followed by officers.  

A BCP Council - Declaration of Interests, Gifts and Hospitality for Policy (for Officers) is in draft form and will go-live, subject to Corporate Management Board changes and approval, on 1st April 2020 (Appendix 1).

Internal Audit work, covering officer Declaration of Interests during the 2019/20, gives a ‘Partial’ audit opinion which means there are weaknesses in the control framework which are putting service objectives at risk. 

The main issues identified were largely inherent, existing as a result of the formation of BCP Council, such as inconsistent approaches, out of date information and the ability of some managers to access any declarations made.  These issues are addressed in the draft Policy.

There have been no internal or external identified instances, whistleblowing or reports by any other means instances where an un-declared interest has led to any disciplinary action or led to reputational damage.  

Minutes:

The Head of Audit and Management Assurance presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'F' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

It was explained that, to replace arrangements in the legacy Councils which currently continued to apply, a draft BCP Council - Declaration of Interests, Gifts and Hospitality for Policy for Officers had been drawn up and was circulated with the agenda. It was intended that the Policy would take effect from 1 April 2020 and that its implementation across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council would address weaknesses in the control framework as identified within the recent Internal Audit review. These mainly concerned inconsistencies arising in practice as a result of the current application of three different legacy Council Policies.

 

The Committee made a number of specific comments on the draft document presented to them and noted the importance of ensuring that the new policy worked well in practice. Members were also invited to send any additional comments direct to the Head of Audit and Management Assurance. Training and awareness for staff was recognised as being key to successful roll-out.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the draft Declaration of Interests, Gifts and Hospitality Policy (for Officers) be noted and supported in principle but that the Policy be brought back again to the Audit and Governance Committee at the earliest appropriate meeting prior to implementation in order to enable the final Policy to reflect the views of the Committee as expressed at this meeting.

 

Voting: Unanimous

 

63.

BCP Constitution pdf icon PDF 389 KB

To recommend changes to the Constitution of the Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'G' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

The report included a summary of the recommendations of the Constitution Issues Working Group which had been formed by the Committee in October 2019 and which had subsequently met on three occasions. The Group had particularly considered a schedule of issues identified since the formal establishment of the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (‘BCP Council’). The Group also consulted with Councillors across the Council.

 

There was discussion and debate about the recommendations from the Working Group.

 

Statutory Officers Disciplinary arrangements

In response to questions, it was confirmed that it was the full Council which would determine which Councillors would be appointed to the Investigation and Disciplinary Committee in accordance with nominations from Political Groups and it was suggested that Council would want to ensure that those nominated had experience which was appropriate for the role. It was also confirmed that the new Committee, a Committee of Council, would be Politically balanced, annually appointed and have an annually elected chair.

 

All Councillors to sit on one Committee

The view of the Committee was that although there should be a clear expectation to this effect, it should not become an absolute requirement.

 

Time and venue of meetings

The Committee noted that within the context of the Calendar of meetings set and agreed annually by Council there would still be some occasions when, still subject to the agreement of the Chairman, the venue of a meeting would be changed.

 

‘Calling-in’ planning applications to Planning Committee

The Committee considered a wide range of issues and heard from the Head of Planning about the likely impact of any changes on both duration of Committee meetings and on professional advice and processing resources within the Planning service. It was noted that a similar provision had applied in at least one of the legacy Councils.

 

There was also discussion about introduction of a policy whereby planning applications would be referred for determination by the Committee if subject of a set number of representations from members of the public that were contrary to the recommendation of the Planning Officer. The view of the Committee was that these representations should not be restricted by being limited to persons within the BCP Council area.

 

It was proposed and seconded that the reference to Committee should be triggered when there were 15 representations from different addresses. By way of an amendment, it was proposed and seconded that reference to Committee should be triggered when there were 20 representations from different addresses and, on being put to vote, the amendment was carried (Voting: For the amendment 6; Against 3). As a Substantive motion, the motion was carried (Voting: For the motion: Unanimous).

 

There was a recognition that the Head of Planning and the Monitoring Officer would need to work closely together on the implementation of this change.

 

It was also  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.

64.

Risk Management - Corporate Risk Register Update pdf icon PDF 339 KB

This report updates Members on the position of the Council’s Corporate Risk Register following the quarterly review by the Corporate Management Board. The main changes are as follows:

• The risk scores have increased for Corporate Risk 1- Failure to respond to the needs arising from a changing demography and Corporate Risk 9 - Failure to maintain a safe and balanced budget for the delivery of services;

• Corporate Risk 8- Inability to run an election/ referendum was added and removed from the register during the quarter;

• Corporate Risk 11 - Extent to which Members and Officers are able to fully engage with new roles and operate efficiently was added during this quarter.

Each of the risks have been reviewed including the Actions Completed and the Actions Proposed.

Minutes:

The Head of Audit and Management Assurance presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'H’ to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

The report provided the Committee with the current position following the quarterly review by the Corporate Management Board and changes to Corporate risks and updates to the mitigation factors were highlighted.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the outcome of the review of the Corporate Risk Register be noted.

65.

External Audit progress report including certification of grant claims (2018/19) for legacy Councils pdf icon PDF 250 KB

The attached report provides an update to Members on the External Auditor’s progress to date in delivering their responsibilities.

 

Grant Thornton have carried out grant certification work on the Housing Benefit Subsidy claims for the three predecessor Councils and the annual Teachers’ Pensions returns for legacy Bournemouth and Poole Councils. All claims have been certified with only some minor errors being identified.

 

Work is ongoing on Pooling Housing Capital Receipts certification returns for legacy Bournemouth Borough Council and legacy Borough of Poole Council. Both returns have been certified with only a minor error being identified for the legacy Borough of Poole Council’s return.

The report also includes a summary of emerging national issues and developments that may be relevant to the Council. In particular, the report provides a presentation on the independent probe into local government audit (‘The Redmond Review’).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Audit and Management Assurance presented a report from external auditors, Grant Thornton, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'I’ to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

The report provided an update on the external auditor’s progress in delivery of their responsibilities. Completed certification work and ongoing activity was described and the report also included a summary of emerging national issues and developments.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the External Auditor’s progress to date in delivering their responsibilities and the sector update provided be noted.

 

Voting: Unanimous

 

66.

External Audit Fee Letter 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 312 KB

This report sets out the Council’s External Auditor’s core fee of £160,000 for the audit of the Council’s 2019/20 financial statements. These fees are agreed by Public Sector Audit Appointments Ltd (PSAA).

The report also sets out the Council’s fees likely to be charged for other (grant certification) work completed by the External Auditor, £34,000.  These fees are not agreed by PSAA and are a negotiated process between the Council and the provider.   The Council can choose provider although the provider must be accredited to do such work.

Total External Audit Fees for 2019/20 are therefore likely to be £194,000.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Audit and Management Assurance presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'J' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

The report set out details of the External Auditor’s proposed annual fee for 2019/20 as set out in the letter attached to this report. It reported a core fee of £160,000 for the audit of the Council’s 2019/20 financial statements as agreed by Public Sector Audit Appointments Ltd (PSAA) and fees likely to be charged for other (grant certification) work completed by the External Auditor amounting in total for 2019/20 to £194,000.

RESOLVED

 

That the External Auditor’s proposed annual fee for 2019/20 as set out in the letter attached to this report be noted.

 

Voting: Unanimous

 

67.

Forward Plan 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 144 KB

This report sets out the core reports to be received by the Audit & Governance Committee for the 2019/20 financial year in order to enable it to fulfil its terms of reference.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Audit and Management Assurance presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'K' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

 

The Committee noted and agreed the subject of presentations to the next two meetings of the Committee and the next core business meeting.

The venues for the meetings would be confirmed as soon as possible.

 

The Chairman repeated his request to Members to submit to him subjects for future presentations to the Committee. Members were also reminded about the opportunities to attend audit and governance related training being provided by the Local Government Association and encouraged to participate wherever they could.

 

The Chief Executive informed the Committee that after the publication of the agenda for this meeting, a response to issues addressed at a previous meeting had been received from the Kinson Community Association and assessment of the response received would be brought to the first appropriate meeting of the Committee.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Forward Plan be noted.

 

Voting: Unanimous