Agenda and draft minutes

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

Contact: Tom Vanstone - Democratic Services  Email: tom.vanstone@torridge.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

31.

Apologies For Absence

To receive apologies for absence for the meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Brenton.

32.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Confirmation of Minutes of the meeting held on 24 July 2018.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on  24 July  were presented.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Himan , seconded by Councillor Hellyer and –

 

Resolved:

 

That the minutes be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

(Vote: For 4, Abstentions 2)

 

33.

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:

Members were reminded that declarations of interest should be made as and when the specific agenda item to which they related was under discussion.

 

34.

Agreement of Agenda Items Part I and II

Minutes:

The agenda as circulated was agreed.

 

35.

Urgent Matters Brought Forward with the Permission of the Chair

Minutes:

There were no urgent matters brought forward.

36.

Code of Corporate Governance pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To receive the report of the Service Improvement Officer.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Service Improvement Officer presented the report and explained the purpose and content.  He confirmed that Code of Corporate Governance would be published once approved by the Committee.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Hellyer, seconded by Councillor Himan and –

 

Resolved:

 

That the revised Code of Corporate Governance be approved

 

(Vote: For Unanimous)

37.

2017-2018 Annual Audit Letter pdf icon PDF 281 KB

To receive the report of Grant Thornton LLP, External Auditors.

Minutes:

The Engagement Lead for Grant Thornton explained that the Annual Audit Letter summarised the key findings from the work carried out for the period 1 April 2017 – 31 March 2018.  In July, the Audit Findings Report had been submitted to Committee and a lot of the content had been similar; the difference between the 2 documents was that the Annual Audit Letter was a public document and would go out to other stakeholders.

 

 

38.

Managing the Risk of Fraud Corruption pdf icon PDF 168 KB

To receive a report from the Devon Audit Partnership, Partnership Manager.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The DAP Partnership Manager explained the purpose of the report which was produced annually to assess the effectiveness of TDC’s processes and management of the risk of fraud corruption.  CIPFA had recently updated its guidance and this was the set of measures against which this year’s report had been assessed. 

 

Identified fraud loss within the Public Sector was expected to be £702m, with £207m in Local Government.  The hidden costs of fraud were substantially higher.

 

The 3 key elements of the CIPFA guidance were:

 

·         Acknowledge

·         Prevent

·         Pursue

 

Overall, TDC’s arrangements addressed CIPFA’S expected responses.  However, in terms of Counter fraud staff, TDC did not have a dedicated team as they had been transferred to the DWP.  This role was undertaken by a range of officers, including the Service Improvement Officer and Internal Audit (DAP).  The DAP offered further support through its Plymouth resources.

 

It was noted that some posts required additional checks such as DBS, credit checks and checks on company directorships held, resigned or disqualified from.  Concerns were raised that checks on company directorships held, resigned or disqualified from were not routinely undertaken.  The DAP Partnership Manager will investigate why this is the case and report back.

 

Members expressed an interest in seeing regular updates on identified fraud cases and were advised that:

 

·         The reported incidents tended to reflect weaknesses in the system nationally, particularly around the Metropolitan areas, and often did not hit the West Country before systems had already been put in place to mitigate the risk.

·         The information was published in the DAP newsletter which was made available to TDC.  Furthermore, an annual report was presented to the Audit & Governance Committee.

·         Last year, no incidents had been recorded in Torridge.

·         Often cases had arisen from error, rather than deliberate claims.

·         Intelligence led operations, in conjunction with DCC, South Hams and West Devon Councils, were due to commence.

 

The report was noted.

39.

Audit Reports Issued to Date pdf icon PDF 401 KB

To receive a report from the DAP Partnership Manager.

Minutes:

Four audit reports had been issued to date:

 

·         GDPR

·         Food Safety

·         Council Tax

·         Building Control

 

The GDPR report was a position statement with no audit opinion. The opinion for the other audits at the time of publication was good.

 

GDPR was discussed in further detail.  Members were reminded that online training had been made available to all staff and councillors.  Staff uptake had been 100% but Member participation had been poor.  There had also been a training session at Caddsdown.  It was imperative that Members undergo the training but the difficulty was how to enforce this.

 

With regard to the Building Control report further information was requested on the recommendations made to address the observation that officers were not currently formally recording conflicts of interest.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Hackett, seconded by Councillor Julian and –

 

Resolved:

 

That:

 

·         The report be approved

·         That a recommendation be brought to Full Council based on the risk identified.

 

(Vote: For – unanimous)

 

The Chair and the Service Improvement Officer will draft the wording and then circulate to the Committee for approval.

 

40.

Progress With Agreed Actions pdf icon PDF 94 KB

To receive the report of the Service Improvement Officer.

Minutes:

The purpose of the report was to provide the Committee with an update on progress with implementing agreed actions and to ensure that things are completed.

 

The report identified 20 completed actions and 13 new actions.

 

Seven internal audit actions were due for completion by the end of October 2018 but were not completed on time. The responsible officers had been contacted and as a result:

 

- An extension had been agreed for 4 audit actions;

- A second extension had been proposed for 1 audit action;

- Two audit actions remained outstanding.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Hackett, seconded by Councillor Julian and –

 

Resolved:

 

That:

 

·         The second extension request be agreed.

·         The progress with actions in this Quarter be noted

 

(Vote: For – unanimous)

41.

Consultation on the Scale of Audit Fees

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

Minutes:

The Strategic Manager (Resources) advised the Committee that the scale of audit fees was set by an external body – Public Sector Audit Appointments.  The proposed scale of fees had to go through a consultation process which would end on 17 December.

 

The proposal was that the scale of audit fees for 2018/2019 should remain the same for 2019/2020, maintaining a 23% reduction.  The fee will be £31,792.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Himan, seconded by Councillor Julian and –

 

Resolved:

 

That the Scale of Audit Fees be approved.

 

(Vote: For - unanimous)

 

42.

Grant Thornton Update Report pdf icon PDF 407 KB

To receive the report from Grant Thornton LLP, External Auditors.

 

Minutes:

The audit of TDC's 2017/18 financial statements was complete and the focus had now shifted to the 2018/2019 financial year, planning the process and looking at dates for interim audits.  Other services provided by Grant Thornton included regular meetings with the Head of Paid Service and the Strategic Manager (Resources); Certification of the Council’s annual Housing Benefit Subsidy claim and a range of workshops. 

 

Members were informed that the Annual Certification Letter will be presented to the next meeting of the Audit & Governance Committee.

 

The report was reviewed and the following updates were highlighted:

 

·         CIPFA had produced a financial resilience index

·         The introduction of the business rate pilot – It was noted that TDC’s bid was currently under review and a decision would be made on 7 December.  Our MP had been asked to put his support behind the bid.

·         The impact of the Fair Funding Review.  Consultation documents were expected after Christmas.

 

In response to a question on Brexit, the Strategic Manager (Resources) gave details of various groups looking at the impact of Brexit.  These included the Brexit Resilience Officers Group, led by the Chief Executive of DCC and the HotSW Joint Committee.  HotSW had raised concerns around ports and harbours particularly.  However, there was a lack of information coming forward.

 

The Strategic Manger (Resources) confirmed to the meeting that the consultation on the financial resilience index had now closed and had proved controversial in some LA sectors.

 

The Chair notified the Committee that Geraldine Daly would be leaving her role as Engagement Lead for TDC and he asked the Engagement Manager to pass on the Committee’s thanks and best wishes. 

43.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Minutes:

The Forward Plan was reviewed and timing of the DAP GDPR audit was discussed.  It was agreed that a verbal update on GDPR would be given at the next meeting.

 

44.

Exclusion of the Public

The Chair to move:

 

That the public be excluded from the remainder of the meeting because of the likely disclosure of exempt information by virtue of paragraph 3 of Part I and paragraph 10 of Part 2 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

It was proposed by Councillor Hellyer and seconded by Councillor Julian –

 

That under Section 100(a)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) the public be exclude from the meeting for the following items of business because of the likely disclosure of exempt information by virtue of Paragraph 1 of Part 1 and Paragraph 10 of Part 2 of schedule 12A of the local Government Act 1972.

 

(Vote: For – Unanimous)

45.

PART II (CLOSED SESSION)

46.

Corporate Assurance Risk Register

To receive a report from the Strategic Manager (Resources).

Minutes:

The Strategic Manager (Resources) presented the risk register in its new format.  He explained how the new layout worked, adding that it would be presented in Part II so that any future risks which may contain material of a confidential could be considered in depth.

 

The risks flagged red were discussed.

 

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

 

That the meeting return to Part I and that any press and public be readmitted.

 

(Vote: For – unanimous)