Agenda item

To receive a report from the Devon Audit Partnership Manager.

Minutes:

The Devon Audit Partnership (DAP) Manager provided members with a summary of the internal audits completed since the last Audit & Governance Committee.

 

There were 5 audit reports completed, with the following assurances made:

 

Substantial Assurance

Main Accounting System

Food Safety

 

Reasonable Assurance

Building Control

Strategic Planning

 

Limited Assurance

Estate Management

 

 

The DAP Manager went on to summarise the main findings.

 

 

Main Accounting System

It was confirmed that DAP were content with the arrangements that were in place, and the experience of the officers in the team was highlighted.

 

Food Safety

The DAP Manager explained this was an experienced team who were focused on delivery and meeting standards. It was stated that the team were recovering since the Covid 19 pandemic and are on track to meet target dates set out by Food Standards Agency.

 

Building Control

It was felt that the control framework was effective, as well as the recording and processing of applications and planning inspections, with good customer satisfaction and no complaints.  The audit went onto consider how the service was recovering costs and it appeared to be making a loss of £80-90,000, it was stated that the service had a very high market share and DAP felt there was some scope to review prices.

 

The Section 151 officer queried if this was after the allocation of overheads and it was confirmed it was. The Section 151 Officer went on to clarify what this loss represented and there was a discussion regarding building control and it’s market share locally.

 

Members suggested that charges were reviewed so they breakeven (the service is not able to make a profit).  The process to review prices was discussed with members and the need to consider market sensitivities when reviewing prices was also highlighted.

 

It was suggested that this would be a piece of work that could be built into the fees and charges report for the next budget, and this would need to be in consultation with the service.  It was questioned if this could be completed sooner - the Section 151 Officer confirmed this could be done under delegated powers, but it was felt this would be too big a commitment for the team in this financial year. 

 

Strategic Planning

The DAP Manager confirmed they were impressed at the monitoring and reporting in place for the delivery of strategic objectives.

 

The impact of budget constraints on taking forward some of the strategic plan priorities was highlighted, along with the response to this.  It was explained there was a recommendation to further consider internal and external strategies and other partnership agreements that may impact on the council’s strategic plan.

 

Estate Management 

The DAP Manager explained why a limited assurance level had been reached and provided members with some background to the previous audit work completed in this area.  The impact of recent recruitment issues were highlighted for members and the DAP Manager directed members to the recommendations in the report.

 

The DAP Manager then asked for questions.

 

There was a further discussion regarding reviewing fees for Building Control and the impact of any changes.  It was asked if Audit & Governance could put forward a recommendation to Community & Resources Committee.  The Section 151 Officer confirmed that his team would look at this, with Building Control, as part of fees and charges work, and it was confirmed that Community & Resources would sign off on this as part of the fees and charges work.

 

There was a discussion regarding strategic planning and homelessness strategy and it was stated that the Household Support Scheme, supported by Encompass, should run from October to March 2023.

 

In reference to the audit on Estates Management member asked the DAP Manager to clarify which of the recommendations was high, and it was confirmed that it was the action relating to the Asset Management Plan.

 

There was a discussion regarding the Asset Management Plan and the Section 151 Officer explained how the current recruitment situation is impacting on this piece of work.  It was confirmed that an Agency Worker was currently doing some of this work, and the previous Estate Manager is also continuing his work on the Asset Management Plan.

 

There was a discussion regarding the action on Health and Safety and members felt that this should have been a priority given the potential impact, the DAP Manger was in agreement.

 

Chair summarised the follow up work from the report and requested that Estate Management be added to the next cycle of the forward plan and reviewed for the next meeting.

 

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

 

Resolved:

That Estate Management be added to the Forward Plan and an update provided at the next Audit Committee.

 

Vote: for, unanimous.

 

Following the vote there was a query regarding the final action for Estate Management. Members asked if a percentage of Health and Safety inspections completed were monitored within the QBRs. The Section 151 Officer stated that this wasn’t, so members requested it be added.   An action was agreed to follow this up with the Strategy, Performance & ICT Manager.

 

Members noted the report.

 

Supporting documents: