Agenda item

Update on Council's Control Framework (based on the work of Internal Audit)

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Head of Internal Audit in respect of a dashboard view of the control framework within the Council, based on the work of Internal Audit (IA) during the period of 1st April 2016 – 28th February 2017. 

 

The Committee discussed the contents of the report and arising from this the following key points were made or clarified –

 

Figure 1 - Residual Level of Risk & Figure 2 - Risk Trend

 

1.     Noted that there had been an increase in red indicators and a decrease in amber and green indicators. Members were informed that the increase in red indicators needed to be understood in context as this was consequent upon the work that was done and where attention was being focussed eg known poorer areas of service provision and schools governance which had not been investigated for a number of years;

2.     Recent staff reductions in the Internal Audit team required remaining resources to focus on high risk areas so it was likely that the red indicator trend would increase in the short term;

3.     The Audit Plan would in future identify key high risk areas so that progress could be made;

4.     It was emphasised that amber should not always be seen as a potential problem as it might mean that the service area was not ‘very good’ but improvements were ongoing. The information was effectively a ‘snapshot’ of evidence found at the time of the audit;

5.     The next report would update on all these areas and a narrative would be provided to outline the peaks and troughs of performance and the overall direction of travel;

6.     Some areas had not responded to internal audit recommendations for various reasons eg, finance, procurement, projects. It was thought that this was down to embedded cultures and inability to prioritise internal audit recommendations. It was vitally important that these areas of service be fed into the Audit Plan to ensure that improvements would be made;

7.     With regard to cultural aspects it was recognised that scrutiny commissions had a role to play in terms of providing an influence on how work was done;

8.     Some members felt that in serious cases internal audit should effectively ‘name and shame’ senior managers and that they be invited to the Audit Committee to help find a positive way forward;

9.     Members were assured that going forward all areas of poor performance would be reviewed to ensure that the right skills and capacity was in place to make significant improvements. A report would be brought to the Audit Committee which would show where senior officers were being challenged to make significant improvements to their areas of work and service provision;

Figure 3 - Level of Assurance

 

 

10.  Regarding ‘Assurances’ members were advised that the amber indicator did not mean ’bad’ performance but doing the bare minimum. Assurance was given that this would be followed up proactively until a green indicator was achieved including the involvement of directorate leadership teams where necessary;

11.  The Committee noted staffing reductions had impacted internal audit function but that ongoing work was more focussed and that statutory minimum requirements were consistently met;

12.  It was recognised that it was vital that the scope of future audit need to be clearly defined and more clarity given regarding what was being measured;

13.  With regard to the new Payroll project members were assured that there was no risk of staff not being paid. It was acknowledged that the new system still had issues to be resolved and that in the meantime the existing system was being adequately supported to ensure continuity of the service;

14.  Safeguarding (Adults) issues about deprivation of liberty assessments not being completed. This was being audited again and a report back would be made when completed;

15.  Neighbourhoods sport centres contract issues around financial vetting of contractornot being completed and risk of potential failure, procurement team would be asked to attend a future audit committee meeting to update members;

16.  Recruitment and Selection - Disclosure and Barring Service checks not taken place, some in critical areas, update to be given to members;

17.  Disclosure and Barring Service, checks for Councillors was discussed amid serious concern that this was not routinely done. Members were advised that Councillors were not legally obliged to be DBS checked and it would normally only be done on a case by case basis. Members considered if this should be raised as an issue of concern or perhaps the Council could consider optional checks for certain councillors. The Service Manager Legal & Democratic Services undertook to look at this matter and produce a report to explain the issues and consider where the report should go for formal consideration;

18.  Internal auditor agreed to include an extra column showing progress in future updates;

Figure 4 - Potential Recoverable Savings and Cost Avoidance

 

19.  Housing (right to buy) comparator to be included in future report to show trend;

20.  Savings had been identified in a number of areas;

21.  Blue badge fraud being prioritised and an ‘amnesty’ project about to be launched. Members suggested that parking services also be asked to assist with blue badge fraud as this was an area of concern.

Resolved – that, subject to the comments made during the discussion, the report be noted.

 

Supporting documents: