Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall - Bridge Street, Bideford, EX39 2HS. View directions

Contact: Karen Hewlett - Democratic Services  Email: karen.hewlett@torridge.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

65.

Apologies For Absence

To receive apologies for absence for the meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Alex Walling, Grant Thornton Engagement Lead.

66.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Confirmation of Minutes of the Meeting held on Tuesday 19 February 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on the 19th February 2019 were presented and were agreed with an amendment to the attendance. Mark Bartlett and Alex Walling from Grant Thornton were both in attendance.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Hackett as the only Councillor in attendance at the last meeting and -

 

Resolved:

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 19 February 2019 be signed as a correct record once the above amendment to the attendee list was made.

 

Abstained - 5

Vote for - 1

 

67.

Declaration of Interests

Members with interests should refer to the agenda item and describe the nature of their interest when the item is considered.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

68.

Agreement of Agenda Items Part I and II

Minutes:

The agenda as circulated was agreed.

 

69.

Urgent Matters Brought Forward with the Permission of the Chair

Minutes:

There were no urgent matters brought forward.

70.

Audit Manager's Opinion pdf icon PDF 63 KB

To receive the report from the DAP Partnership Manager.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Devon Audit Partnership Manager introduced himself and ran through the Annual Audit Report 2018/19.

 

Committee members were provided with a summary of the work carried out within the last financial year.  The Devon Audit Partnership Manager provided the Committee with ‘substantial assurances on the adequacy and effectiveness of the Authority’s internal control framework’. 

 

Committee Members were informed of the key issues covered within the year, along with an explanation of the assurance opinions.  The Devon Audit Partnership Manager went on to highlight the performance indicators on page 23 of the agenda and appendix 3, which provided a comparison of audit opinions.

 

Councillor Craigie asked for further detail on the red and yellow areas highlighted on page 24 of the report.  The Devon Audit Partnership Manager explained that progress on these actions would have been covered in detail at previous committee meetings. He re-stated his assurances that management were able to address or remedy the issues raised and confirmed there are also follow-up processes to ensure recommendations are implemented. 

 

Councillor Craigie requested copies of the relevant reports to see what the issues were.  The Service Improvement Officer confirmed that there would be a follow-up audit in relation to IT Change Management this September and asked Councillor Craigie to email any report requests to him.

 

Councillor Hackett requested assurances from Devon Audit Partnership regarding 12 days of the 2018/19 audit plan carried forward and any potential capacity issues. The Devon Audit Partnership Manager confirmed he was satisfied that the audits carried over into the April period were now complete.

 

Members duly noted the report.

 

71.

Annual Governance Statement - Final Review pdf icon PDF 138 KB

To receive a report from the Service Improvement Officer.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Service Improvement Officer presented the Annual Governance Statement report and explained the core principles and the annual governance cycle for Committee Members. 

 

Members were asked to note page 46 of the report – a breakdown of Governance Principles. The Service Improvement Officer explained how these would be reviewed at future meetings and how Members could query the supporting evidence database.

 

 

Pages 47-51 of the report were highlighted to Members and key issues from the previous financial year were discussed.  4 high risk issues were pointed out to Committee Members and summarised.

 

The Service Improvement Officer then ran through the Annual Governance Statement with Members, which will be published with the accounts in September. 

 

Councillor Hackett asked if there were any ongoing  issues regarding the disclosure of Part II information?  The Service Improvement Officer stated that confidentiality and Part II were covered in the induction training for new Councillors along with data protection and at the current time it was not considered to be an issue. 

 

It was proposed by Councillor Hackett and seconded by Councillor Hodson and -

 

Resolved: That the Annual Governance Statement report be approved for sign off in September.

 

Vote: For - Unanimous.

 

72.

Grant Thornton Progress Report pdf icon PDF 214 KB

To receive a verbal update from Grant Thornton.

Minutes:

The Audit Progress Report, for year ending 31 March 2019, provided members with an update on the External Auditors progress as at 16 July 2019.  Members were informed of the deferment of the final public accounts audit, along with the revised timescales and the reasons for the delay.  Grant Thornton confirmed their audit will take place in August and an extraordinary meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee was already scheduled for September 2019.

 

Members were informed of the statutory position; the target is to publish audited accounts is 31st July and where this is not possible a statement explaining reasons should be published instead. As long as this is done the Council will not be in breach of statutory requirements under the Local Accountability Act.  

 

Grant Thornton’s representative at the meeting clarified to Committee Members this will not reflect on the reputation of the Council.  Grant Thornton have reported the issue to PSAA and explained the delay is due to their own resourcing issues. Mark Bartlett passed on the apologies of Grant Thornton and reassured Committee Members of the revised timescales. 

 

Members were provided with a summary of the work completed by Grant Thornton in the last financial year and were referred to further Grant Thornton reports on page 10 and 11 of the agenda item.

 

The Devon Audit Partnership Manager reiterated to members the usefulness of the detailed reports, which were linked to in pages 10 and 11. 

 

Chair thanked Grant Thornton for their update and Members duly noted the report.

73.

Presentation of the Draft Financial Statements (2018/19) for publication as at 31 July 2019 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To receive a verbal update and Financial Statement 2018/19 from the Strategic Manager (Resources).

Minutes:

The Strategic Manager (Resources) confirmed approval of the accounts would not be required at today’s Committee meeting and would now take place at the extraordinary meeting in September. However, a set of draft audited accounts will be published and were attached with this agenda item so Member’s could have sight of them before September.

 

Member’s were referred to pages 67 and 68, which highlight the outturn position for the Authority, along with a breakdown of the Council’s deficit / surplus across reporting segments for 2018/19.

 

The overspend for ‘homelessness and related pressures’ was raised and Councillor Hackett asked whether this area would need further oversight. The Strategic Manager (Resources) outlined the progress since this was last reported to Community & Resources Committee as a high risk area, which was followed by  Full Council approving additional resources, mainly in relation to the acquisition of additional property.  Currently the Council is looking to purchase property for a hostel, which will alleviate the need for temporary accommodation like Bed & Breakfast and hotel provision.  The Strategic Manager (Resources) added that this is a demand led service, with a legal obligation and statutory requirements and was likely to remain high risk area as we respond to the rising demand.

 

Further discussion took place regarding ‘other variances’ and Councillor Hackett asked if there were any significant areas.  The Finance Manager confirmed that were various smaller items within this but nothing substantial.

 

Councillor Craigie highlighted the deficit in relation to pensions and asked if the announced public sector pay increase from Teresa May would have an impact.  Strategic Manager (Resources) confirmed that the pay increase announced is not for Local Government staff. He went on to explain the pension deficit to members and confirmed that the Council was due a triennial review this year.  The results of this should be available towards the end of the year.

 

Councillor Craigie mentioned the Capital Programme and asked what impact the possible ending of the New Homes Bonus may have. The Strategic Manager (Resources) provided  Members with an update regarding the review of the New Homes Bonus (which was likely to be in 2020/21) and the potential impact on Local Government Finance.

 

Councillor Hackett asked for some details regarding the budget surplus for ‘Telephones, Postage, Computer related and Photocopying’. The Finance Manager explained this was mainly due to changes in the Council’s printer / copier contract and was considered a one off windfall.

 

Members duly noted the Draft Statement of Accounts.

 

74.

Waivers and Non-Compliance with Procedure Rules pdf icon PDF 299 KB

To receive a report from the Service Improvement Officer.

Minutes:

The Service Improvement Officer presented the report on non compliance with procedure rules and waivers.  He explained the report and the robust waiver process to Members and provided detail on the number of waivers approved this year along with the reasons for their authorisation. 

 

The two waivers in relation to affordable housing research were raised. Councillor Hodson requested more detail regarding the actions that were taken, particularly regarding the need for a second waiver?  Councillor Hodson accepted that this was a detailed question, but noted her concern that this may happen on other projects and asked what would be done in future to protect the Council’s interest. The Service Improvement Officer explained this was a one off event and was considered as part of the waiver appeal process.  He agreed to contacting Councillor Hodson outside of the meeting with more detail around this case.

 

Members duly noted the report.

75.

Audit Reports Issued to Date pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To receive a report from the DAP Partnership Manager.

Minutes:

The Devon Audit Partnership Manager explained the aim of  this report was to provide a summary of all the internal audit reports issued since the previous Audit and Governance Committee.

 

The opinion of the audits on payroll, benefits, risk management, waste management, emergency planning and income were ‘good standard’ (no significant matters arising).  The opinion for Homelessness was ‘improvement required’ (existing procedures need to be improved).

 

Members were directed towards the summary report on page 187 regarding homelessness and some more detail was provided on the detail of this audit and the outcomes.

 

The Devon Audit Partnership Manager explained that for the audits that have taken place since the last committee meeting action plans were in place and provided reassurance that there is an adequate plan in place to address the issues raised.

 

Councillor Hackett highlighted the homelessness summary and asked if it would be prudent to review if the action plan has addressed the issues raised.  Devon Audit Partnership Manager confirmed that the actions were tracked by the organisation and the next agenda item reports on this. However, a wider service review next year could be an opportunity for further discussion.  The Strategic Manager (Resources) added that there has now been a subsequent report on housing options  and  there is work taking place in the team to address the concerns raised.

 

The Devon Audit Partnership Manager  confirmed that recommendations are tracked and, given that homelessness will remain a risk area in terms of cost, it will continue to be monitored but with the aim of not overburdening staff in the area. 

 

Members duly noted the reports

 

76.

Progress with Agreed Audit Actions pdf icon PDF 136 KB

To receive a report from the Service Improvement Officer.

Minutes:

The Service Improvement Officer delivered the Progress with Agreed Actions report and explained how the information was received, tracked and summarised.

 

 The Service Improvement Officer highlighted page 210 of the report to Members and advised that since the last Committee Meeting in February 2019 there had been 7 internal audit reports issued with 24 agreed new actions. In the same period 34 actions had been completed by management.  A summary of these actions and their context was provided, along with an update on progress - highlighting any agreed extensions.

 

The Service Improvement Officer also highlighted the final ‘outstanding issue’ and provided the history of this action.

 

The report was duly noted. 

 

77.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Minutes:

Service Improvement Officer ran through the Forward Plan with members and highlighted that the additional extraordinary meeting planned for  September would need to be added.

 

Members duly noted the forward plan.

78.

Corporate Assurance Risk Register - July 2019

To receive a verbal update from the Strategic Manager (Resources). 

Minutes:

The Strategic Manager (Resources) explained that usually there would be a report provided alongside this agenda item, but this was a verbal update because it was felt more appropriate to discuss the Corporate Assurance Risk Register at the extraordinary meeting planned for September. 

 

At the time of the meeting there were no urgent matters to bring to the attention of members.

 

Councillor Hutchings requested an example of what the report covers for more context and the Strategic Manager (Resources) provided some examples of the areas covered by the report.