Agenda and draft minutes

Standards and Governance Committee
Wednesday, 13th February, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1

Contact: Lisa Young  5340

Items
No. Item

28.

Apologies for non-attendance

Minutes:

An apology for non attendance was received from Councillor Ms Ballard.

 

29.

Declarations of interest

All Members are required to disclose, at this point in the meeting or as soon as possible thereafter, any disclosable pecuniary interest or personal interest in any item (s) being considered at this meeting.

Minutes:

There were none.

30.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 61 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the Committee meeting held on 28 November 2018.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 28 November 2018 be signed as a true and correct record.

 

 

31.

Deputations - Standing Order 3.4

(NOTE: The Committee is required to receive a deputation(s) on a matter which is before the meeting of the Committee provided that notice of the intended deputation and its object shall have been received by the Borough Solicitor by 12 noon on Friday 8 February 2019.  The total time for deputations in favour and against a proposal shall not exceed 10 minutes).

Minutes:

There were none.

32.

Public Questions - Standing Order 3.5

(NOTE: The Committee is required to allow a total of 15 minutes for questions from Members of the public on matters within the terms of reference of the Committee provided that notice of such Question(s) shall have been submitted to the Borough Solicitor by 12 noon on Friday 8 February 2019)

 

Minutes:

There were none.

33.

External Audit: Certification of Claims and Returns Annual Report 2017-18 and Audit Planning Report 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Certification Report 2017-18

The certification of claims and returns annual report summarises the findings of our work on the Council’s 2017/18 housing benefit subsidy claim. It reports the key messages from the work undertaken, including claim amendments which were agreed with your officers and details of matters reported to the grant paying department in a qualification letter. Our annual report has been prepared in line with the requirements of Public Sector Audit Appointments Limited (PSAA), which oversaw the certification of claims and returns for 2017-18.

 

Audit Planning Report 2018-19

The Audit Planning Report sets out the work that we plan to complete to enable us to issue the audit opinion on your financial statements, and the value for money conclusion, for 2018/19. The audit opinion and value for money work will be completed in line with the requirements of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, the National Audit Office’s 2015 Code of Audit Practice, the Statement of Responsibilities issued by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) Ltd, auditing standards and other professional requirements.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the reports of the EY, which were the Certification report 2017-18 for consideration and noting, and the 2018-19 Audit Plan for consideration and recommendation to the Policy and Organisation Board.

 

David White from EY addressed the Committee and advised that he would take the committee through the findings of the 2017/18 Certification report.

 

He advised that the findings were set out in the report and that it was always expected that a small number of errors would be identified due to the complexities of the scheme and some of the individual claims in the Council’s caseload.

 

It was advised that in general the number and value of errors identified were consistent with the findings in the previous year.

 

The Committee was advised that the report proposed a refund to the Council of £2600, as a reduction in the scale fee. This was as a result of the Council officers undertaking the initial testing in 2017/18, unlike previous years in which the external auditors had undertaken that work.

 

 

 

RESOLVED: That the Certification report for 2017/18 be noted

 

Consideration was given to Audit Planning Report 2018/19. The Committee was advised that the report detailed matters that were required to be brought to the attention of the Committee and that there were no fundamental changes to the risks identified from the prior year, and that the new accounting standards brought in as part of the new CIPFA code was the only significant new area of focus.

 

The Committee was advised that pages 9 and 10 of the report set out the identified risks of material misstatement arising from fraud or error. The first of these, the risk of management override, is identified on all audits, as the potential for management to override the system of internal control is present at all entities.

 

The Committee was advised that the valuation of land and buildings was highlighted as they were subject valuation changes and that management was required to make estimations as part of the valuation process.

 

In answer to a Member’s question, it was clarified that the pension liability was estimated for Gosport.

 

The Committee was advised that the auditors’ planning work relating to the Value for Money conclusion was detailed on page 14 of the report and that page 16 detailed the materiality, set at £1.29million, representing 2% of the Council’s prior year expenditure on the provision of services.

 

In answer to a Member’s question the Board was advised that the valuation rate of buildings was the notional rebuild value for certain types of asset, and that lease and bad debt work was undertaken as part of normal audit work.

 

The Committee was advised that it was expected that the revised schedule of work arising from the earlier statutory deadlines introduced in 2017/18 would be met.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

·        The Committee note the risks and areas of focus identified in the Audit Planning Report 2018/19, and the planned response to them.

 

·        the Audit Planning Report 2018/19 be recommended to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.

34.

Internal Audit Monitoring Statement from 1st April 2018 - 4th February 2019 pdf icon PDF 92 KB

To table the performance of the Internal Audit Section for 2018/19 (1st April 2018 – 4th February 2019) against the agreed audit plan (March 2018) to the Members with responsibility for governance.

 

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report of the acting Head of Internal Audit tabling the performance of the audit section against the agreed audit plan.

 

The Committee was advised that there had been significant changes to the audit plan and that there had been significant changes to staffing.


The Head of Internal Audit was on Long Term Sick and there was currently a vacancy for a principal Auditor, but plans were in place to fill the position.

 

The Committee was advised that there was an improvement to the levels of work that had been completed but that it was anticipated that the work would be completed to a level that would allow for the annual audit opinion statement to be issued.

 

The Committee was advised that a peer review of Basingstoke had been undertaken and that not enough had been completed in return due to lack of evidence provided by GBC. As a result a short term appointment had been made to undertake the work in a more detailed capacity

 

The Committee was advised that appendix A provided a summary and that there would be enough information to form an opinion on the audit. The remaining audits would focus on priorities including Council Tax, NNDR, payroll, Housing Benefits and Business rates.

 

In answer to a Member’s question, the Board was advised that work was still being undertaken for Test Valley in the absence of the Head of Audit, but that these were covered remotely. It was requested that the Committee be advised how the income from the work at Test Valley was being distributed.

 

The Committee was advised that there was no clear answer as to the return of the Head of Audit, but that planning work for the next year was being undertaken to ensure that preparations were being made.

 

RESOLVED: That the performance of Internal Audit from 1st April 2018 to 4th February 2019 be noted.

 

35.

UPDATE REPORT ON THE CURRENT STATUS OF BUSINESS CONTINUITY ARRANGEMENTS AND PLANS WITHIN THE COUNCIL pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Report to follow

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the Head of Emergency Planning to update the Board on the progress made to the outstanding actions following the Internal Audit review audit undertaken in quarter 2 of 2018.

 

The Committee requested that if the actions were still outstanding by the time of the following meeting, that the Head of Streetscene be invited to attend to update.

 

Resolved: That the Committee notes the contents of the report with regard to the update on the outstanding actions with regard to  Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) for all sections and high risk areas of work within the Council.

36.

Code of Conduct, Local Assessment Criteria and Terms of Reference Update pdf icon PDF 137 KB

To follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given by the Committee to the Borough Solicitor to documents detailing an update to the Members Code of Conduct and the Terms of Reference for the Standards and Governance Committee.

 

The Committee was advised that the changes reflected the guidance on the code to be set by authorities. 

 

The Committee was advised that it was expected that Members were able to justify any decision to vote against Council Officer’s recommendations and provide reasoning for their decision, similarly to practice currently undertaken at the Regulatory Board.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

In answer to a Member’s question, the Committee was advised that Council publications were required to be politically neutral and that it was not believed that any recent publications from the Council had required Council Officer’s advice to do so.

 

Members accepted that there was limited actions that could be taken against Members if it was found that the code of conduct was breached, but felt that more accountability should be given to the language used and respect held for each other. The Committee also felt that Members should be mindful that often even if Councillors were not acting in their capacity as a Councillor that there could be a perception from members of the public that they were. 

 

The Committee considered the proposed Terms of Reference and were advised that the proposed terms better reflected the work of the Committee. The Committee was advised that the crime and disorder element was covered by the Community Safety Partnership.

 

The Committee was advised that the Councillor complaint process was also currently being reconsidered and would be presented to a future committee. The Committee  requested that the importance of the role of the Independent Person was acknowledged.

 

RESOLVED: That the Members Code of Conduct and the Standards and Governance Committee Terms of Reference be recommended to Full Council for approval.

 

 

 

 

 

37.

Any Other Items

Minutes:

There were none.