Simba Muzarurwi introduced the report and highlighted the following points:
· The activity report covered the period from 1 April to 31 August and confirmation was given that no new internal audit activities were undertaken in Q1 to allow management to effectively respond to Covid19. Progress made by the team in relation to Q2 priorities are summarised in Appendix 1 recognising that IA activities effectively resumed in July. As a result most of the audits earmarked for completion in Q2 are still in progress. Consistent with the rolling plan methodology, Appendix 2 highlighted areas of focus for Q3. Q4 priorities will be highlighted at the November committee.
· The whistleblowing update was presented at the July committee and the half year counter fraud report for November committee will have updated details on whistleblowing.
· The installation of new audit management software should improve audit data management and reporting. The process for following up and reporting agreed management actions will also be automated with this software and a demonstration can be given to committee in future.
· Internal Audit is currently procuring strategic partner to build resilience in the team.
· Members were encouraged by the progress on whistleblowing, which is a subject that has been flagged at the committee several times. The July annual report showed that most actions related to whistleblowing have been implemented.
· It was confirmed that whistleblowing within the external companies is the responsibility of those companies and their respective audit committees.
· There are separate mechanisms for reporting incidents like suspected fraud, which can be notified via BCC. The difference between whistleblowing, grievances and fraud is outlined in the policy documents.
· Members asked about Brexit risk and preparation. There is a Brexit group working on this, and there are regular updates at the relevant forums which internal audit attends. This is considered adequate oversight unless there are some major changes to Brexit before the end of the year.
The Chief Internal Auditor invited several senior officers of BCC departments into the meeting who had audit reports with limited audit assurance opinions to provide updates on the progress in implementing the agreed actions and answer questions from the committee.
· Have worked closely with audit this year to improve robustness. This includes a revised strategy and action plan. It is still early stage for embedding commercialisation in planning. There have been actions to assist this e.g. proper shortlisting and assessment of opportunities.
· The report is clear about what is required and actions being taken to tackle outstanding issues. There will be more work on this until audit can give reasonable assurance, but there is no estimated date for when this may happen as the nature of the work is dynamic and dependent on the market.
Trading with schools:
· There was substantial audit assurance on operations. However commercialisation was limited as there is no operating plan or business model for TwS.
· The 2012 proposal from cabinet established TwS as an in-house trading entity. The Phase 2 alternative service model was never explored.
· Required actions were to examine new service model feasibility, review KPIs and work closely with the commercial teams to share best practice.
· A full review / deep dive will happen over autumn, with an option appraisal in December. The expectation is to move out of limited assurance in the new year.
· There was a discussion about whether it was a good time to enter the market with a commercial model if there has been an 8 year delay in set up and loss in market share. There is still potential in a commercial model providing that the service levels are maintained.
HR: Interims and Consultants
· Following limited assurance rating, all required actions have been implemented. There is a lot more control now, e.g. any interim costing more than £500 per day has to be signed off by the CEO.
· Guidance for suppliers is clear that going off contract means using the procurement system. There are also additional controls to cover staff exit costs.
· Non-compliance is reported to Executive Directors or escalated to the CEO.
· Audit issues with data processing are largely related to ownership of data and staff being aware of their own responsibilities. There are actions taking place now to address this. This includes a GDPR phase 2 project to address audit issues and specific Information Asset training.
· Phase 2 will be signed off by CLB in a few weeks, but the timeline is not short. Another audit review would be around spring 2021.
Adult Social Care Debt:
· Adult care charging is very complex and involves individuals with high needs. The legislation states that services have to be supplied regardless of income.
· Limited assurance was related to resources and early intervention. There has been substantial recruitment. There will be a dedicated team up and running by end of month. Debt management will change focus from historical to current debt. Old debt is more likely to be written off.
· There is more focus on the first 30 days and prevention measures. Service users are vulnerable, so social workers need to explain the costs early on.
· Systems and processes to improve invoicing are being implemented. Also better communication and more accurate identification of opportunities for collection.
· There was a discussion on the difficulty of collecting care debts from estates and the debt levels within care homes.
Members thanked officers for attending.