Agenda and minutes

Audit and Governance Committee - Thursday, 22nd April, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

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

Note: It was not possible to live-stream this meeting due to Planning Committee taking longer than expected 

Media

Items
No. Item

76.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence from Councillors.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Trent.

77.

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:

Councillor Cox attended the meeting as a substitute for Councillor Trent.

78.

Declarations of Interests

Councillors are requested to declare any interests on items included in this agenda. Please refer to the workflow on the preceding page for guidance.

Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

79.

Confirmation of Minutes pdf icon PDF 300 KB

To confirm and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting held on 11 March 2021.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 25 March 2021 were confirmed as a correct record.

80.

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 Thursday 15 April 2021.

The deadline for the submission of a statement is 12.00 noon, Wednesday 21 April 2021.

The deadline for the submission of a petition was 12.00 noon, Thursday 8 April 2021.

Minutes:

There were no public issues to report.

81.

Report of the Constitution Review Working Group - Changes to the Constitution pdf icon PDF 132 KB

The report summarises the issues considered by the Constitution Review Working Group and sets out a series of recommendations arising from the Working Group for consideration by the Committee.

Any recommendations arising from the Committee shall be referred to full Council for adoption.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman of the Constitution Review Working Group and the Monitoring Officer 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.

 

The Chair of the Licensing Committee, Councillor J Butt, was also present and addressed the Committee at the invitation of the Chairman.

 

It was reported that the view of the Working Group was that a Committee of 15 Councillors was too large to consider specific licence applications.

Meetings involved hearing and consideration of complex, sensitive and often highly emotive issues around suitability of applicants for licences and such a large tribunal could be potentially unfairly daunting for an applicant. The Working Group had therefore supported expansion of the schedule of application types that could be considered by the Sub-Committee although with issues such as strategy and Licensing Policy and fees and charges remaining within the remit of the main Committee. A proposed revision of the Constitution was considered. It was noted that an effective process and framework of Sub-Committees was in place to deal with a range of applications. It was also noted that certain functions previously undertaken by the Committee, such as film classification, had, for some time, been delegated to Officers.

 

The Committee considered specialist Licensing law advice which confirmed that the Licensing Committee was legally capable of delegating the matters proposed to a Sub-Committee. However, there was a view that the Constitution Review Working Group should be asked to give some further additional consideration to circumstances in which it may be advisable for matters to be heard by the main Licensing Committee despite the delegation.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Constitution Review Working Group be asked to give further additional consideration to circumstances in which it may be advisable for matters to be heard by the main Licensing Committee despite the delegation to a Sub-Committee.

 

Notwithstanding the above, however, it was

 

RECOMMENDED TO COUNCIL

 

That the revised arrangements for the Licensing Committee within Part 3, Rule 3 of the BCP Council Constitution as set out in Appendix 1 of the report to the Audit and Governance Committee be approved and adopted.

 

Voting: Unanimous

 

82.

Risk Management – Corporate Risk Register Update pdf icon PDF 542 KB

This report updates councillors on the position of the council’s Corporate Risk Register. The main updates are as follows:

·        A target risk score has been added to each risk along with details of actions or strategies to support the achievement of this risk score

·        Corporate Risk CR8 - Inability to run an election/ referendum – has been escalated back for inclusion on the Corporate Risk Register

·        Corporate Risk CR14- Continuity of Public Health arrangements and evolution of outbreak management plan - The title of this risk has been refined to better describe the risk

·        Corporate Risk 17 – Risk to reputation of Place & Council if summer arrangements are not managed - This is a new risk added to the register during this quarter.

 

Minutes:

The Risk and Insurance 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 report provided the Committee with an update on the Council’s Corporate Risk Register and on the changes in risk during Quarter 4 of 2020/21. Members were reminded that the format of the updated Corporate Risk Register presented to them now combined Corporate Risks and risks previously identified in the separate COVID-19 Corporate Risk register.

It was also explained that in order to be better able to identify strategies and actions being put in place to address identified risk, a target risk score had been added to each risk along with details of the actions or strategies being put in place to support the achievement of its risk score. This supported the process by providing additional information for ongoing management of the risk. It would also facilitate better assessment and comparison of the benefits of mitigating action against the cost of such actions.

The Committee noted the additions of Corporate Risks CR8, CR14 and CR17 relating respectively to elections; community health and to summer place management arrangements.

In response to questions, the significant funding and resources being brought to bear on addressing identified areas of Adult Social Care and Children’s services provision was explained.

The Chairman referred Councillors to proposals for a Committee workshop session around the subject of the Corporate Risk Register and the aspiration was to enhance the role of the Audit and Governance Committee in challenging the effectiveness of actions proposed across the BCP Council towards mitigation of risk. This would build on the success of the workshop in April 2020 addressing the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The arrangements for the workshop would be addressed later in the meeting.

RESOLVED that the Audit and Governance Committee note the Quarter 4 Corporate Risk Register Update for 2020/21.

Voting: Unanimous

83.

Information Governance Update pdf icon PDF 234 KB

First BCP Council IG update report to Committee, providing performance management information since the inception of BCP Council and outlining current position of the IG Team and Council’s IG function.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Information Governance 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.

This was the first whole BCP Council Information Governance update report to Committee and provided performance management information since the inception of BCP Council and outlined the current position within the Information Governance Team and Information Governance function.

It was reported that a single Information Governance framework was now in place across the Council re-enforced with a programme of training and promotion and the Committee received details of the changes effected to the delivery of training. The internal review and complaints system also enabled an overview of performance.

Inevitably some reduction in the speed of response rate had been experienced during the Council restructuring and in the pandemic period although all required responses had been delivered. Performance within individual service areas relied upon strong individuals with appropriate support in place and this was being re-enforced. This important role was also featuring within the ‘Smarter Structures’ review of Business Support Officer roles.

In response to questions, there was confirmation that arrangements for overview by the Governance Board were effective and compliant. The Committee was also provided with reassurance about the security of both information and hardware within the context of increasing homeworking and the encryption of systems addressed any additional risk.

RESOLVED that the Audit and Governance Committee

(a)  note the Information Governance performance management information for 2019/20 and 2020/21 (to Q3 – December 2020) including requests received under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 Environmental Information Regulations Data Protection Act 2018 and other agency disclosure requests;

(b)  note the current composition and position of the Information Governance Team;

(c)  note Information Governance developments effected and/or in progress, following Annual Governance Statement report to the meeting of the January 2020 Audit and Governance Committee and the Internal Audit report of July 2020; 

(d)  note changes effected to the delivery of Information Governance training.

Voting: Unanimous

84.

BCP Council Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) Policy approval pdf icon PDF 248 KB

The policy ensures compliance with the regulatory framework for the use of covert surveillance by BCP Council as set out in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and RIPA (Directed Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Sources) Order 2010 (and as amended 2012).

BCP Council expects this policy to be rarely used; the Council will seek to minimise use of covert surveillance and will use overt methods of obtaining required information wherever possible.

A very limited number of trained Council officers are able to approve applications to a magistrates’ court to authorise a RIPA operation.

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 'D' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

It was explained that the policy ensured compliance with the regulatory framework for the use of covert surveillance by BCP Council as set out in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and RIPA (Directed Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Sources) Order 2010 (and as amended in 2012).

BCP Council expected the policy to be rarely used and it was confirmed that the Council would seek to minimise use of covert surveillance and use overt methods of obtaining required information wherever possible. It was confirmed that a report of any use of RIPA powers was presented annually to the Committee.

A very limited number of trained Council officers were able to approve applications to a Magistrates’ court to authorise a RIPA operation.

The Committee was advised that, in relation to the acquisition of communications data, a separate policy was in the course of development and would be presented in due course to the Audit and Governance Committee for necessary approval.

RESOLVED that Audit and Governance Committee approve the BCP Council’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) Policy

Voting: Unanimous

85.

Annual Governance Statement 2019/20 Action Plan Update pdf icon PDF 347 KB

This report provides an update against the Annual Governance Statement (AGS) Action Plan which identified actions to be taken to address the significant governance issues in 2019/20 AGS. These are:

       Governance of Children’s Social Services

       Governance Arrangements with Key Partners, Wholly Owned Companies, Trusts and Contractors

Two further governance issues were identified, as below, and actions to address these had already been implemented prior to the publication of the AGS:

       Adjustments to the Highways Register

       Omission to make available for public inspection the draft AGS in June 2019

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 'E' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

The report provided an update against the Annual Governance Statement (AGS) Action Plan which identified actions to be taken to address the significant governance issues in the 2019/20 AGS namely ‘Governance of Children’s Social Services’ and ‘Governance Arrangements with Key Partners, Wholly Owned Companies, Trusts and Contractors’.

Both these subjects would now also feature within the AGS for 2020/21 which was reported to be in preparation and would be available for public inspection in June in accordance with statutory timetable requirements.

Two further governance issues had been identified and actions to address these had already been implemented prior to the publication of the AGS. These two actions were ‘Adjustments to the Highways Register’ and ‘Omission to make available for public inspection the draft AGS in June 2019’.

It was confirmed that it was still anticipated that a report on the Governance and Contractual arrangements in place at ‘BH Live’ would come to the Audit and Governance Committee. It was also agreed that, for completeness, the Bournemouth Parks Foundation would be included within the table of individual organisations listed in the AGS Action Plan.

RESOLVED that Audit & Governance Committee note the progress made to address the significant governance issues on the BCP Council Annual Governance Statement Action Plan 2019/20.

Voting: Unanimous

86.

Internal Audit - Quarterly Audit Plan Update (Including Audit Charter and Audit Plan for 2021/22) pdf icon PDF 402 KB

This report sets out the Internal Audit Charter and Audit Plan for 2021/22. Approval of these documents by the Audit and Governance Committee is a requirement of the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS).

The report also details progress made on delivery of the 2020/21 Audit Plan for the period January to March (inclusive) 2021.  The report highlights that:

·       Seventeen audit assignments have been completed (nine ‘Reasonable’, five ‘Partial’ audit opinions and three consultancy reviews);

·       Thirty five audit assignments are in progress;

·       Implementation of audit recommendations is satisfactory.

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 'F' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

The report set out the Internal Audit Charter and Audit Plan for 2021/22 and it was explained that approval of these documents by the Audit and Governance Committee was a requirement of the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS). The Audit Plan included the adjustments requested by the Committee earlier in the year.

The report also detailed progress made on delivery of the 2020/21 Audit Plan for the period January to March (inclusive) 2021 and highlighted seventeen completed audit assignments with nine ‘Reasonable’ and five ‘Partial’ audit opinions and three consultancy reviews). Thirty-five audit assignments were reported to be in progress and implementation of audit recommendations was satisfactory. It was agreed that, where it made sense to do so, and where audits were conducted on a regular annual basis, comparison of the results of annual audits would be included in future reports to the Committee.

RESOLVED that the Audit and Governance Committee

(a)  approve the Internal Audit Charter and agree that the Chair signs the document to record this approval (this may be a virtual sign off using email);

(b)  approve the Internal Audit Plan 2021/22;

(c)  note the 2021/22 budget for the Internal Audit service which has been previously approved by Council;

(d)  note progress made and issues arising on the delivery of the 2020/21 Internal Audit Plan.

Voting: Unanimous

87.

External Auditor - Annual Audit Letter Year Ending 31 March 2020 pdf icon PDF 253 KB

The attached report summarises the key findings

arising from the work of the Council’s external auditor

for the year ending 31 March 2020. The key points to note are that Grant Thornton:

·       provided an unqualified opinion on the Council’s financial statements;

·       included an emphasis of matter in their report in respect of the uncertainty over valuations of the Council's land and buildings and investment properties and the property assets of its pension fund given the Coronavirus pandemic. This does not affect their opinion that the statements give a true and fair view of the Council's financial position and its income and expenditure for the year; and

were satisfied that, except for the matter identified in respect of the Ofsted inspection of children’s services, the Council had proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources (qualified 'except for' conclusion).

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 'G' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

The report summarised the key findings arising from the work of the Council’s external auditor, Grant Thornton, for the year ending 31 March 2020. The key points to note were that Grant Thornton provided an unqualified opinion on the Council’s financial statements and were satisfied that, except for the matter identified in respect of the Ofsted inspection of children’s services, the Council had proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources (qualified 'except for' conclusion).

It was reported that the report from the external auditors included an emphasis on the uncertainty over valuations of the Council's land and buildings and investment properties and the property assets of its pension fund given the Coronavirus pandemic. This however did not affect their opinion that the statements gave a true and fair view of the Council's financial position and its income and expenditure for the year.

It was explained that the Annual Audit Letter, which was also included in the report to the Committee, represented  the final formal notification of Grant Thornton’s  work for the year ended 31 March 2020 and confirmed detailed findings from their audit work as previously reported to the Audit and Governance Committee on 11 March 2021.

In response to questions, Members were reminded that an Action Plan submitted to the previous meeting of the Committee set out a process for addressing the subject of property valuation in future audits.

The lead Auditor from Grant Thornton, Paul Dossett informed the Committee that this would be the last audit he would be conducting at BCP Council and introduced his successor Peter Barber. Sam Harding would retain her involvement providing essential continuity in the future.

The Chairman of the Committee paid tribute to the professional and objective work of Paul Dossett in conducting audits both at BCP Council and within the legacy Councils and emphasised the importance of continuity going forward. Paul Dossett in response thanked Members and Officers for their very courteous, polite and non-adversarial approach to the audit process. 

RESOLVED that Audit & Governance Committee notes the audit opinion and findings of the Council’sexternal auditor following their audit of the Council’sstatement of accounts 2019/20.

Voting: Unanimous

88.

External Auditor – Audit Progress & Sector Insight Update pdf icon PDF 243 KB

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

 

The report also includes a summary of emerging national issues and developments that may be relevant to the Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Audit and Management Assurance presented a report from Grant Thornton, 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 provided an update for Audit & Governance Committee on the External Auditor’s progress to date in delivering their responsibilities. It also included a summary of emerging national issues and developments that may be relevant to the Council including changes to ‘Value for money’ criteria which would be the subject of further discussion with Members and Officers.

An initial indication was provided of the likely audit fee and reasons for an increase in the level were explained including requirements imposed by Central Government to undertake audits in more depth in some areas. Further details of these changes would be provided and collated at Officer level. All fees were subject to approval by Public Sector Auditor Appointments.

RESOLVED that Audit and Governance Committee notes the External Auditor’s progress to date in delivering their responsibilities and the sector update provided.

Voting: Unanimous

89.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 215 KB

This report sets out the reports to be received by the Audit & Governance Committee for the 2021/22 municipal year.

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 'H' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

The report set out the reports to be received by the Audit and Governance Committee for the 2021/22 municipal year.

It was noted that the report on Governance within ‘BH Live’ would be brought to the Committee although specific timescales were being discussed. There would also be a presentation to the Committee on the subject of Parks Governance. A Risk Register workshop session would also take place building upon the success of a previous workshop on risk and the Covid19 pandemic.

The Chairman of the Committee referred to plans for provision of specific training for members of the Committee and research had taken place on the range courses available from the LGA and from CIPFA and those that could be offered on an internal basis. It was explained that the intention was to offer a foundation training opportunity for all members of the Committee in the new Municipal year after the Annual Meeting in May. This would ensure that all members started with the same basic piece of training which could then be built on in more detail. In parallel, some Council-specific training could be offered internally by Officers.

Members were once again reminded to submit to the Chairman any suggestions for particular subjects which might feature as a presentation to future meetings.

RESOLVED that the Audit and Governance Committee approves the forward plan set out at Appendix A.

Voting: Unanimous