Agenda and draft minutes

Audit and Governance Committee - Thursday, 28th July, 2022 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room, First Floor, BCP Civic Centre Annex, St Stephen's Rd, Bournemouth BH2 6LL. View directions

Media

Items
No. Item

110.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence from Councillors.

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor Filer.

111.

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:

Formal notification had been received appointing Councillor Williams as substitute for Councillor Filer.

112.

Election of Chairman

To elect a Chairman for the 2022/23 Municipal Year.

Minutes:

It was Proposed by Councillor Williams, Seconded by Councillor Fear and

RESOLVED that Councillor Beesley be elected as Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee for the ensuing 2022/23 Municipal year.

113.

Election of Vice Chairman

To elect a Vice Chairman for the 2022/23 Municipal Year.

Minutes:

It was Proposed by Councillor Johnson, Seconded by Councillor Butt that Councillor Fear be elected Vice-Chairman of the Committee.

It was Proposed by Councillor Brooke, Seconded by Councillor Cox that Councillor Howell be elected Vice-Chairman of the Committee.

There being an equality of votes, on the casting vote of the Chairman, it was

RESOLVED that Councillor Fear be elected as Vice-Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee for the ensuing 2022/23 Municipal year.

114.

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:

Councillor Brooke declared that he was currently acting as a host for a Ukrainian family.

Councillor Cox declared his employment as a professional Auditor.

115.

Confirmation of Minutes pdf icon PDF 587 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting held on 14 April 2022.

Minutes:

A member of the Committee was of the view in relation to Minute 105 (2020/21 Statements of Accounts Update) that the Committee had been more critical of the situation than was reflected within the Minutes. The Chairman referred the Member to the opportunity elsewhere in the agenda for discussion of this matter to take place.

Councillor Howell asked for it to be noted that he took no part in approving the Minutes as they related to a meeting that took place prior to his joining the Committee.

RESOLVED that, subject to the above, the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee on 14 April 2022 were confirmed as a correct record.

116.

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/ieListMeetings.aspx?CommitteeID=151&Info=1&bcr=1

The deadline for the submission of public questions is 4 clear working days before the meeting.

The deadline for the submission of a statement is midday the working day before the meeting.

The deadline for the submission of a petition is 10 working days before the meeting.

 

Minutes:

The Committee was advised of the receipt of three Public Questions and one Public Statement.

Public Question 1

AGENDA ITEM 16 Issue 5 in the draft Annual Governance Statement (AGS) for 2021/22 regarding the Council’s substantially inadequate fixed assets accounting records

QUESTION

Prior to approving the AGS narrative has this overseeing Committee been made fully aware of:

The adverse impact concerning –

- The disconnection between prime entry accounting records & the spreadsheet registers utilised to compile the balance sheet fixed assets figures of material monetary total?

Response:

There is no disconnection. The prime entry accounting records which we are assuming is a reference to technology forge not holding revaluation figures. A reconciliation is carried out to ensure assets held on technology forge are also within the spreadsheet of the asset register.

- Consequent misstatements in the related balance sheet amounts?

Response:

Misstatement in balance sheets amounts identified by external auditors are in relation to the valuation basis which is outside the issue raised.

Misstatement in balance sheet amounts were in relation to the basis of specific asset valuations, identified by External Audit during their work, not to do with any reconciliation or disconnection between records.  

- Associated loss of accounting & audit trail entailing impediments to the directional verification of individual fixed assets; in terms of original transaction amounts & physical existence of assets?

Response:

The key reconciliation is to ensure asset on both data sources are captured. Physical existence of assets is part of external auditor testing.  

As the new system starts 1.4.23 earliest –

- What realistic confidence level can be placed reconciliation-wise in the interim “Technology Forge systems” & other “controls”?

Response:

It is a reconciliation that has been acknowledged by external auditors as being an effective control. Internal Audit have also noted the controls as being effective, albeit inefficiently consuming of scarce staff resource, and consequently this efficiency gain is a main driver for transformational work.  

Philip Gatrell 21.7.22

Public Question 2

AGENDA ITEM 16 Issue 5 in draft AGS for 2021/22 & Contravention of law regarding Regulations 3, 4, 5 & 6 of Accounts & Audit Regulations 2015 (2015 Regulations) & Monitoring Officer’s obligatory reporting duty under the Local Government & Housing Act 1989 (1989 Act)

QUESTION

Has this regulatory Committee been made aware of the followingfactors that accompany consideration of the AGS –

- The related contravention of, in particular, 2015 Regulation 4, now requiring the MO’s explanatory report to all Members under the 1989 Act.

- Wrongful omission of the issue from BCPC’s first AGS for 2019/20, although undoubtedly already identified by those concerned.

Response:

The issue was not wrongfully omitted from the 2019/20 AGS.  Items included on the AGS are always a matter of judgement. The AGS is part of the Statement of Accounts which was fully audited.

- Details of the total monetary differences arising on the fixed assets reconciliations performed. What are those amounts?

Response:

The total monetary difference arising on the fixed assets reconciliation performed is zero.

- The directly related amount of KPMG’s fees which,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 116.

117.

Treasury Management Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 477 KB

This report sets out the monitoring of the Council’s Treasury Management function for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.

A surplus of £745k has been achieved through a reduced need to carry out temporary borrowing due to high cash balances generated from funding associated with the government’s response to the pandemic as well as increasing interest rates earnt on the Councils investments.

The report also sets out the Quarter One performance for 2022/23 which forecasts an underspend of £840k due to the increase in interest rates.

Further to the standard update the reports seeks approval to increase our borrowing headroom in line with the proposal set out in the financial strategy supporting the proposed 2022/23 budget as endorsed by Cabinet.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Chief Financial 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 report monitored the Council’s Treasury Management function for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 and noted the achievement of a surplus of £745K. It was explained that this was a result of a reduced need to carry out temporary borrowing due to high cash balances generated from funding associated with the Government’s response to the pandemic as well as increasing interest rates earnt on the Council’s investments.

The figures were presented within the context of the national economic background and interest rate projections. The Council’s Treasury management performance was explained in terms of borrowing and investments and including particularly an investments summary as at 31 March 2022. The report also set out the Quarter One performance for 2022/23 which forecasted an underspend of £840k.

It was noted that the recent internal audit in January 2022 rated the Treasury Management function as ‘Reasonable’ assurance which meant that there was a sound control framework designed to achieve the service objectives, with key controls being consistently applied.

Appendices to the report provided comparative benchmarking information and specifically listed approved capital schemes and known commitments against the debt ceiling.

The Committee received an update on changing regulations relating to debt and, in the context of those regulations, approval was being sought to increase the Council’s borrowing headroom in line with the proposal set out in the financial strategy to support the proposed 2022/23 budget as endorsed by Cabinet. The recommended new limits to borrowing activity were set out although it was also recommended that borrowing should not be undertaken without the support of a self-funding business case. The views of the Section 151 Officer were set out and considered by the Committee.

There was discussion about the impact of increasing the debt headroom and Members were reminded that in raising the debt ceiling the Council was not agreeing specific schemes but providing itself with flexibility to respond to initiatives that would be brought forward to Council.

There were questions from the Committee about the implications of providing the Council with too much flexibility and about how large budgets were being assessed against potentially significantly large interest rate rises.  It was confirmed that day-to-day financial activity was being carefully monitored in the context of the current inflationary climate.

The Leader of Council responded to questions about the Council’s transformation programme, now within its third year, and referenced significant savings already achieved and in accordance with agreed timetables. The Committee was also reminded that the transformation programme involved mainly revenue expenditure and that the levels of assurance around savings were strong.

There were also specific questions about Central Government metrics for local authorities and the Committee was referred to the provided comparative data as well as receiving reassurance about the provision made for debt repayment. In relation to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 117.

118.

Risk Management – Corporate Risk Register Update pdf icon PDF 934 KB

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

 

·       The format of the reporting of the Register has been updated for this quarter;

·       No new risks were added during the quarter;

·       No risks were removed during the quarter;

·       Material updates to the risks are summarised at sections 14-19.

 

Minutes:

On behalf of the Risk and Insurance Manager, 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 'B' to these Minutes in the Minute Book. The report provided an update on the position of the Council’s Corporate Risk Register.

The attention of the Committee was drawn to the updated format of presentation as requested at the last quarterly presentation and now included a history of Risk Register changes and, where applicable, set out for individual risks, comments that had been previously made by the Committee.

Members wishing to comment on the new formatting and presentation were invited to do so outside the meeting.

It was reported that no new risks had been added during the quarter and no risks were removed. Material updates during the quarter were summarised for the Committee. There were particular references to Risk CR2 where strong and positive improvement steps were reported as being undertaken and in relation to Risk CR4 where an enhanced threat from increasingly sophisticated phishing was being addressed. In response to questions in respect of Risk CR9 information was provided for the Committee about assessment of the impact, in financial budgeting terms, of the recent higher than expected pay award offer. It was also noted that the methodology adopted of combining the previously separate covid pandemic risk register into the main risks had been a most effective way of adapting the risk process to reflect sudden changes and respond to exceptional circumstances.

The Committee noted the importance of the effective people strategy referred to in Risk CR15 and this was acknowledged as a key risk as the Council implemented it’s programme of transformation. Even since publication of the agenda there were new events which needed to be reflected in the risk and this could be brought back separately to the Committee if required.

Members were reminded in response to a question about risks in relation to private housing provision, that, in respect of risks not necessarily covered in the report, there was a platform of Service Risk Registers which sat below the Corporate level risks being reported to the Committee. Details of these specific Registers were available separately to interested Members.

There was discussion about the reputational impact of changes in process and particularly recent changes to the way in which the Council delivered overview and scrutiny. There was also reference to issues of performance within the Planning function although the Chairman reminded Members about the Committee’s previous discussion and agreement to properly reflect that risk within the risk management framework. The effectiveness of the way in which the Council responded to climate change was also suggested as an area that should have an increased focus within the Corporate Registers.

RESOLVED that the Audit and Governance Committee

(a)  notes the Corporate Risk Register update for the first Quarter of 2022/23 together with the specific additional comments made during the discussion at the meeting;  ...  view the full minutes text for item 118.

119.

Internal Audit - Quarterly Audit Plan Update pdf icon PDF 294 KB

This report details progress made on delivery of the 2022/23 Audit  Plan for the period April to June (inclusive) 2022. The report highlights that:

·       Five audit assignments have been completed, of which there were four ‘Reasonable’ and one ‘Partial’ audit opinions;

·       Seventeen audit assignments arein progress;

·       Implementation of auditrecommendations issatisfactory and none have required escalation to Audit & Governance Committee;

A significant amount of work undertaken during the quarter related to completion of the 2021/22 Audit Plan. The ‘Chief Auditor’s Annual Report 2021/22’ contains the outcome of this work which is being reported separately to this Committee.

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.

The report detailed progress made on delivery of the 2022/23 Audit  Plan for the period April to June (inclusive) 2022. The report highlighted that five audit assignments have been completed during the period, of which there were four ‘Reasonable’ and one ‘Partial’ audit opinions. Seventeen audit assignments were inprogress. It was reported that implementationof auditrecommendations wassatisfactory and that none had required escalation to Audit and Governance Committee. The Committee was also referred to a new feature which provided, for the information of the Committee, a snapshot list of audits planned within the next Quarter.

It was noted that the in the list of completed audits for the Finance Service the Debtors audit was subject to final agreement and would therefore require a final update in the next Quarterly report.

There was discussion about potentially conducting an audit of the process of post pandemic financial grants such the ‘bounce-back’ grant. It was agreed that this was something that should be considered within the context of available resources and for implementation later in the year when more data about these grants would be available for review. Members with any particular concerns in the meantime were asked to set this out separately for the Head of Audit and Management Assurance with other members of the Committee copied in for information. In other cases, if there was concern about individual grant applications and business cases, these could be provided separately to individual members who requested to see them.

In concluding their consideration of the report, the Committee also noted that a significant amount of work had been undertaken during the quarter related to completion of the 2021/22 Audit Plan and that the ‘Chief Auditor’s Annual Report 2021/22’ contained the outcome of that work which was being reported separately to this Committee.

RESOLVED that Audit and Governance Committee notes progress made andissues arising onthe deliveryof the2022/23 InternalAudit Plan.

Voting: Unanimous

120.

External Audit – Progress Update pdf icon PDF 216 KB

Grant Thornton, as the Council’s appointed External Auditors, have produced a report (Appendix A) which provides an update to Audit & Governance Committee on their progress to date in delivering their responsibilities.

 

The report states that, as previously reported, a number of matters had arisen that delayed completion of their 2020/21 opinion audit. Work has now been substantially completed however there are two key areas that have impacted on the revised completion timetable of the end of February 2022 covering pension liabilities assurance from the Pension Fund auditor and national infrastructure accounting issues.

 

Grant Thornton intends to keep Audit & Governance Committee appraised of progress towards completion of the audit.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Chief Financial Officer introduced a report presented by the Council’s External Auditors, Grant Thornton, 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.

The report provided an update as at July 2022 on progress in completing the 2020/21 Financial Statements Audit Opinion for BCP Council and the Committee was advised that the previously reported issues were still causing delay and preventing sign-off of the Accounts. Although significant effort continued to be applied, including additional pressure from the Council’s Officers and senior Councillors, there had been very little progress since the April meeting of the Committee. The two outstanding issues, which were outside the control of the External Auditors or of BCP Council, continued to be related to an unresolved national issue regarding the valuation of infrastructure assets and to a more local issue relating to receipt of a required letter of assurance from the Auditor of the Dorset Pension Fund.

The Committee received, once again, background information about these two issues and the Chairman of the Committee was monitoring the position and being kept closely informed on the Committee’s behalf. The Chairman undertook to convene further meetings with those involved.

The Committee continued to express their concern about the situation but assurances were provided that everything possible was being done. The External Auditors were questioned by Members about the nature and availability of alternative ways forward but the response from Grant Thornton was to reconfirm their commitment to complete the audit in the established manner.

On other matters, Grant Thornton reported that the 2020/21 audit was progressing well and that a report would be brought to the next core business meeting of the Committee.

RESOLVED that Audit and Governance Committee notes the report from External Auditors, Grant Thornton, relating to the 2020/21 Financial Statements Audit and Statement of Accounts.

Voting: Unanimous

121.

Annual Review of Declarations of Interests, Gifts & Hospitality by Officers 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 165 KB

An annual review and update of the Council’s Declaration of Interests, Gifts & Hospitality Policy took place in March 2022.

The recommendations arising from the Internal Audit review on compliance with the Declaration of Interests, Gifts & Hospitality Policy last year have all been implemented.

There have been no internal or external identified instances, whistleblowing or reports by any other means where an undeclared interest by officers 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 'D' to these Minutes in the Minute Book and it was explained that the report, and the following three reports, had all fed in to final production of the Annual Governance Statement.

The Committee was informed that the annual review and update of the Council’s Declaration of Interests, Gifts & Hospitality Policy (for Officers) took place in March 2022 and it was also confirmed that recommendations arising from the previous year’s Internal Audit review on compliance with the Declaration of Interests, Gifts & Hospitality Policy had all been implemented.

The Head of Audit and Management Assurance certified that there had been no internal or external identified instances, whistleblowing or reports by any other means where an undeclared interest by officers had led to any disciplinary action or led to reputational damage.

In response to questions, the Monitoring Officer explained the separate process for recording declarations of interest by Councillors and described the process in place for reminding Members of their responsibilities. Although the law did not require checking of these Councillor declarations, the schedule of declarations was published on the Council’s internet and fully available for public scrutiny.

RESOLVED that Audit and Governance Committee notes the annual review of Register of Declarations of Outside Interests and Receipts of Gifts & Hospitality by Officers (2021/22).

Voting: Unanimous

122.

Use of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and Investigatory Powers Act Annual Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 399 KB

Following an annual review process, the previous Regulation of Investigatory Power Act (RIPA) Policy was strengthened and includes provision for acquiring communications data and is now titled the BCP Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) Policy.

All observations arising from the inspection by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) on the use of investigatory powers have been addressed.

The Council has not made use of powers under RIPA or IPA during the 2021/22 financial year.

The Council has completed and sent its statutory nil-return for the 2021 calendar year to the IPCO.

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 Committee was advised that, following an annual review process, the previous Regulation of Investigatory Power Act (RIPA) Policy had been strengthened and now included provision for acquiring communications data and that it was now titled the BCP Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) Policy.

It was confirmed that all observations arising from the inspection by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) on the use of investigatory powers have been addressed. The Council has not made use of powers under RIPA or IPA during the 2021/22 financial year and the required statutory nil-return for the 2021 calendar year had been duly submitted.

RESOLVED that Audit and Governance Committee notes that the Council has not made use of powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act or the Investigatory Powers Act during the 2021/22 financial year.

Voting: Unanimous

123.

Chief Internal Auditor's Annual Opinion Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 377 KB

It is the opinion of the Chief Internal Auditor that during the 2021/22 financial year:

·       arrangements were in place to ensure an adequate and effective framework of governance, risk management and control (internal control environment) and that where weaknesses were identified there was an appropriate action plan in place to address them;

·       the systems and internal control arrangements were effective and that agreed policies and regulations were complied with;

·       adequate arrangements were in place to deter and detect fraud;

·       there was an appropriate and effective risk management framework;

·       managers were aware of the importance of maintaining internal controls and accepted recommendations made by Internal Audit to improve controls;

·       the Council’s Internal Audit service was effective and compliant with all regulations and standards as required of a professional internal audit service; and that

the arrangements, in respect of the Chief Internal Auditor, were consistent with all of the five principles set out in the CIPFA publication “The Role of the Head of Internal Audit in Public Sector Organisations”.

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 and which included a summary of the Chief Internal Auditor’s Annual Report and Opinion 2021/22 for BCP Council.

The Committee was advised by the Head of Audit and Management Assurance, in his capacity as Chief Internal Auditor for BCP Council, that arrangements were in place to ensure an adequate and effective framework of governance, risk management and control (internal control environment) and that where weaknesses were identified there was an appropriate action plan in place to address them. It was also his opinion that systems and internal control arrangements were effective and that agreed policies and regulations were complied with. Adequate arrangements were in place to deter and detect fraud and there was an appropriate and effective risk management framework. Managers were aware of the importance of maintaining internal controls and accepted recommendations made by Internal Audit to improve controls.

The Chief Internal Auditor confirmed that the Council’s Internal Audit service was effective and compliant with all regulations and standards as required of a professional internal audit service and that the arrangements at the Council as summarised were consistent with all of the five principles set out in the CIPFA publication “The Role of the Head of Internal Audit in Public Sector Organisations”.

The Chairman of the Committee recorded his thanks for the work undertaken by the Internal Audit team and his appreciation of their commitment within the context of the resources available to them.

RESOLVED that the Audit and Governance Committee notes the Chief Internal Auditor’s Annual Report and Opinion on the overall adequacy of the internal control environment for BCP Council.

Voting: Unanimous

124.

Annual Breaches & approved Waivers of Financial Regulations Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 192 KB

This report sets out the breaches and waivers of Financial Regulations (the Regulations) which have occurred during the 2021/22 financial year and highlights the following:

 

2021/22

2020/21

2019/20

 

Breaches

Waivers

Breaches

Waivers

Breaches

Waivers

Total (count)

4

77

5

116

8

66

Total (£ value)

£1,347,429

£6.3M

£870,561

£12.6M

£171,625

£13.8M

The low number of breaches indicate that there was generally a good level of understanding of the Regulations.

The Chief Finance Officer, or formally delegated representatives, agreed 77 waivers totalling £6.3M.

It was reported this time last year, for 2020/21, that the higher number of waivers, compared to 2019/20, was materially due to the impact of covid19. During the pandemic, particularly the early stages in the spring and summer of 2020, the number of ‘Limited supplier’ waivers (did not invite or could not obtain 3 quotes or tenders) increased because a significant number of suppliers were asked but could not supply a quote, or supply the goods, services or works to the Council. Some suppliers closed completely as a result of the Government’s ‘furlough’ scheme whilst others were running at reduced capacity.

The lower number (77) of approved waivers in 2021/22 shows a reassuring drop from the exceptional covid19 impacted 2020/21 year (116). The comparison by £ value is more reassuring again as significantly less Council expenditure is now subject to an approved waiver, this means that a greater proportion of the Council’s total expenditure is subject to the full requirements set out in the Council’s Financial Regulations.

Whilst full compliance can never be guaranteed and ‘under-reporting’ of breaches, in particular, is an inherent possibility, arrangements were in place to detect instances of non-compliance.

An effective and transparent breaches and waiver governance process maximises the chances of the Council achieving value for money and complying with UK Procurement Legislation (Public Contract Regulations 2015 (PCR15)) principles when procuring goods, services or works under PCR15 thresholds.

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 set out the breaches and waivers of Financial Regulations (the Regulations) which had occurred during the 2021/22 financial year presented by way of comparison with previous years. The Chief Finance Officer, or formally delegated representatives, were reported to have agreed 77 waivers totalling £6.3M.

Individual waivers were set out in the appendix to the report and the low number of breaches was indicative of a generally good level of understanding of the Regulations.

Specific details could be available for individual members of the Committee seeking more information.

In the meantime, a required typographical correction was noted in the title of the description of Breach Reference Br1. It was also suggested, and accepted, that within the appendix listing individual waivers the term ‘did not invite or could not obtain’ should be separated out in order to provide greater clarity.

RESOLVED that the Audit and Governance Committee notes the breaches and waivers of Financial Regulations that occurred during 2021/22.

Voting: Unanimous

125.

Annual Governance Statement 2021/22 and Annual Review of Local Code of Governance pdf icon PDF 980 KB

The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015* require councils to produce an Annual Governance Statement (AGS) to accompany its Statement of Accounts.

This report seeks approval of the draft AGS prior to the statutory inspection period.  The final AGS will be approved by this committee as part of the Statement of Accounts sign off process and report; any changes necessary to the AGS in the intervening period will be highlighted in this report.

The AGS concludes that BCP Council “has effective and fit-for-purpose governance arrangements in place in accordance with the governance framework.

After considering all the sources of assurance (for governance arrangements), BCP Corporate Management Board identified that the following significant governance issues existed:

·       Governance of Children’s Social Services

·       Governance Arrangements with External Bodies

·       Delay in the completion of the 2020/21 External Audit

An action plan to address these significant governance issues has been produced and is being implemented. An update against the action plan will be brought to Audit and Governance Committee in January 2023.

*and as amended by the Accounts and Audit (Amendment) Regulations 2021

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 Committee was reminded of the requirement imposed on Councils pursuant to The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 (as amended by the Accounts and Audit (Amendment) Regulations 2021) to produce an Annual Governance Statement (AGS) to accompany its Statement of Accounts.

It was explained that the AGS was compiled from a wide range of evidence sources across the Council, including in-year elements and a year-end assessment and these various sources were listed for information.

The current report sought approval of the draft AGS prior to the statutory inspection period.  The final AGS would be submitted to the Committee for approval at its meeting in January 2023 as part of the Statement of Accounts sign off process and report. Any changes necessary to the AGS in the intervening period would be highlighted in the later report and, in response to questions, it was confirmed that this could include, if necessary, any further issues arising from the future of the Council’s stock of beach huts.

It was reported that, after considering all the sources of assurance (for governance arrangements), the BCP Corporate Management Board identified three significant governance issues namely, Governance of Children’s Social Services, Governance Arrangements with External Bodies anddelay in completion of the 2020/21 External Audit.An action plan to address these significant governance issues had been produced and was being implemented. An update against the action plan would be brought to Audit and Governance Committee in January 2023.

Overall, the AGS concluded that BCP Council “has effective and fit-for-purpose governance arrangements in place in accordance with the governance framework”.

The Committee was also referred to the ongoing process of regular review of the BCP Council Local Code of Governance and advised that, since the inception of BCP Council, regular revisions have been necessary to reflect the evolution of the Council’s governance arrangements A revised and updated version of the Code was accordingly presented and set out in the report for the Committee to note.

In response to questions arising from a member of the Committee about issues raised earlier during the public questions part of the meeting, the Monitoring Officer repeated her earlier response confirming that, in her judgement as Monitoring Officer, the matters being raised by the public questioner fell below the threshold to trigger a report under Section 5 of the Local Government and Housing Act.

RESOLVED that

(a)  the draft Annual Governance Statement 2021/22 is agreed prior to the statutory inspection period; and

(b)  the annual update of Local Code of Governance is approved.

Voting: For – 8; Against - 1; Abstain - 0

 

126.

Forward Plan refresh pdf icon PDF 215 KB

This report sets out the reports to be considered by the Audit & Governance Committee for the 2022/23 municipal 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 'I' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

The report set out the schedule of items to be considered by the Audit and Governance Committee for the 2022/23 municipal year in order to enable it to fulfil its terms of reference. An amended version of the appendix was circulated to reflect changes to the dates of the meetings previously scheduled for March and April 2023. To reflect the pre-Election period, the final meeting of the Municipal Year would now be held on 16th March 2023 and the meeting scheduled on 13 April 2023 had been cancelled. To retain the number of meetings at the same level, an additional meeting had been inserted on 16 February 2023.

The Chairman confirmed that updates relating to the Statement of Accounts would continue to be brought to the Committee as the situation developed and, if necessary, a special meeting of the Committee would be arranged.

Following receipt of a previous presentation to the Committee relating to the governance of ‘BHLive’, the Chairman had continued to engage with ‘BHLive’ and the expectation was that a further report would come back to the Committee at some stage in the future. A further update report on governance of the Council’s parks could also be expected at a later meeting.

There was also the possibility of including further discussion about the Planning function at a future meeting although, in the first instance, some particular issues raised were being considered through the Constitution Review Working Group which was meeting in October.

The Chairman repeated his invitation to Members to submit to him by email any further governance related issues for potential in-depth examination by the Committee at future meetings.

RESOLVED that, Subject to the changes circulated at the Committee, the Audit and Governance Committee approves the forward plan set out at Appendix A.

Voting: Unanimous