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 AUDIT COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 28th April, 2014.

 

Present:  Councillor K. Hatton (Chairman); Mr. P.R. Lewis (Vice-Chairman); Councillors J.C. Bird, Mrs. P. Drake, J. Drysdale and K.J. Geary.

 

 

Also present: Mr. S. Barry (Wales Audit Office), Mr. J. Golding (Grant Thornton UKLLP) and Ms. G. Turner (Grant Thornton UKLLP).

 

 

1064   APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor  M.R. Wilson.

 

 

1065   MINUTES -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 6th February, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

1066   DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

1067   REGULATORY REPORTS - IMPROVEMENT TRACKING (REF - SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)) -

 

Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning), on 20th January, 2014 was provided with the opportunity to view a summary of recommendations and proposals set out in regulatory reports and to track implementation of improvements to address those recommendations / proposals. The Operational Manager (Corporate Policy and Communications) who presented the report advised Members in relation to the areas within the committee’s remit being the Estyn Inspection of the Education Service during September 2013, the Estyn Inspection of the Adult and Community Learning held during February 2013 and the review of the Governance Arrangements of the Joint Education Service. 

 

The Committee was asked to note that the Audit Committee would also receive regular reports which would update on the implementation of any recommendations/ proposals. 

 

On noting the Corporate Improvement Single Action Plan, the Chairman made reference to the fact that as the Joint Education Scrutiny had not been established the local authority Scrutiny Committee had itself developed its own Member-led programme to scrutinise school performance. 

 

A Member of the Committee noticed that there were no timescales detailed within the Action Plan and in response the Chief Learning and Skills Officer stated that the actions raised were from more detailed Action Plans and that the Corporate Improvement Action Plan did not detail as much information as those shown at the lower level.  Furthermore, the Operational Manager for Corporate Policy and Communications added that the timescales were quite long as these were high end proposals but that dates would be included for the six monthly update.

 

In response to the query  as to when formal warning letters to underperforming schools would be sent the Chief Learning and Skills Officer explained that the formal warning letters had already been sent out and that progress regarding the schools ability to meet set targets had been assessed.  The individual school performance panels were shortly to be arranged and feedback would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in due course. Further to this, a Committee Member asked whether Members could be advised of the dates of such meetings in order that they could be made aware when they were taking place.

 

The Committee Member in referring to the publication of the report following the Williams Commission queried as to what impact these proposals would have on the timescales and would there be a complete re-start of the process around regulatory tracking. The Chief Learning and Skills Officer responded by stating that closer inspection of the proposals within the Williams Commission report would have to take place as developments unfolded.

 

The Chairman in conclusion advised that the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) would continue to monitor and evaluate the progress of school performance and make recommendations to Cabinet as appropriate.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the work that had been achieved in order to address the recommendations / proposals as contained within the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Audit Committee be advised of the Scrutiny Committee’s intention to continue to robustly monitor and evaluate school performance particularly in the absence of a Joint Scrutiny Committee of the Joint Education Service.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  In order to achieve continuous improvement of Council services.'

 

(This item was considered in conjunction with Agenda Item No. 7 'Regulatory Reports - Decision Tracking’)

 

 

1068   REGULATORY REPORTS - IMPROVEMENT TRACKING (REF - SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)) -

 

Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources), on 21st January, 2014 received an update on the above matter since it was last reported to the Committee in September 2013.  The report in itself set out the summary of recommendations and proposals which were included in regulatory reports and to track implementation of improvements to address those recommendations / proposals.

 

Set out in Appendix 1 to the report was a list of all recommendations / proposals made in regulatory reports since January 2011 where recommendations / proposals had not yet been fully implemented.  This included:

  •  WAO Data Quality Review (August 2013) - actions underway.
  • Wales Audit Office Information Management Review Feedback (April 2012) - actions not progressing.
  • Wales Audit Office Annual Improvement Report (January 2012) - actions completed.
  • Wales Audit Office Review of HR and Workforce Planning (November 2011) - actions well underway.
  • Wales Audit Office Report on Delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants (November 2011) - actions well underway.
  • Wales Audit Office Review of Technology (October 2011) - actions nearing completion.
  • Wales Audit Office Annual Improvement Report (January 2011) - actions completed.

The Scrutiny Committee was asked to confirm that those actions that fell within the remit of the Committee that were identified as such had been completed and if agreed to refer the matter to the Audit Committee where they would be removed from the tracking report.  Once removed these completed actions would be archived along with the minute reference to maintain a clear audit trail.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the following actions be agreed as completed:

  • WAO Data Quality Review (August 2013) – SCC/001
  • WAO Annual Improvement Report (January 2012) (actions 1, 2 and 4)
  • WAO Information Management Review (April 2012) (actions 2 and 3)
  • WAO Review of HR and Workforce Planning (November 2011) (action 1)
  • WAO report on Delivery of Disabled Facilities Grant (November 2011) (actions 3, 4 and 5).

(2)       T H A T the Data Quality Review (August 2013) action 3 L978A be agreed to be deleted.

 

(3)       T H A T the matter be referred to the Audit Committee for further consideration.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1-3)    In order to achieve continuous improvement of Council services.'

 

(This item was considered in conjunction with Agenda Item No. 7 'Regulatory Reports - Decision Tracking’)

 

 

1069   REGULATORY REPORTS - IMPROVEMENT TRACKING (REF - SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)) -

 

Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) on 10th February, 2014 received an update on above matter since it was last reported to the Committee in September 2013.  The report in itself set out the summary of recommendations and proposals which were included in regulatory reports and to track implementation of improvements to address those recommendations / proposals.

 

Set out in Appendix 1 to the report was a list of all recommendations / proposals made in regulatory reports since January 2011 where recommendations / proposals had not yet been fully implemented.  This included:

  • Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales Annual Review and Evaluation of Performance 2011-2012 (November 2012) - actions completed.
  • Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales Review of Adult Services and Vale Community Resource Service October 2011 (February 2012) - remaining actions to be deleted as they are no longer relevant.
  • Wales Audit Office Report on Delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants (November 2011) - actions well underway.
  • Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales Annual Review and Evaluation of Performance 2010-2011 (October 2011) - actions well underway.

The Scrutiny Committee was asked to confirm that those actions that fell within the remit of the Committee that were identified as such had been completed and if agreed to refer the matter to the Audit Committee where they would be removed from the tracking report.  Once removed these completed actions would be archived along with the minute reference to maintain a clear audit trail.

 

Recommendation / Proposal

Reason for Activity

Progress Update

CSSIW Annual review and Evaluation of Performance 2011-12 (November 2012)

4. Continue to review how service can reduce the numbers of people experiencing delayed transfers from hospital.

There has been an increase in people experiencing delayed transfers from hospital – this has been attributed the Western Vale now being included in the data as well as difficulties in the mental health older people service, where half of all delays can be accounted for.

Completed.

 

The rise in the level of delayed transfers of care from hospital for reasons involving the Council in 2012-2013 has been addressed. An integrated discharge service is now in place in addition to the recently developed Community Resource Service, both of which have had a significant positive impact on Delayed Transfers of Care.

 

In 2013/2014 the service committed to developing integrated social care and health assessment and care management teams for all adult services in partnership with the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

 

A DToC project group has been set up to monitor the rate of DToC on an ongoing basis and to ensure appropriate actions are in place

6. Commissioning person centred services for younger adults with complex mental health problems which are age appropriate.

Younger adults with mental illness who require intensive support are being placed in residential care designed for older people. This is not in line with person centred service provision.

Completed

 

It has been agreed that the UHB will lead in the development of a commissioning strategy for adults of working age with mental health problems.

CSSIW review of Adult Services and Vale Community Resource Service October 2011 (February 2012)

5. The consistency and quality of care plans requires further improvements.

There has been an increased development of an outcome based approach, some improvements in the construction of individual care plans and greater emphasis on priority outcomes that address risk to independence and well-being. However, the consistency and quality of care plans requires more work.

Deleted

 

This recommendations is no longer relevant as new  assessment framework due to be implemented in December which will consolidate improvements already made

6. Reviews need to be effectively evidenced on case files.

Reviews are being undertaken but are not yet effectively evidenced on case files.

Deleted

 

This recommendations is no longer relevant as new  assessment framework due to be implemented in December which will consolidate improvements already made

7. Reviews need to capture information about the quality of commissioned services to better inform commissioning and procurement processes.

There have been complaints about commissioned services such as the quality of care provided by agency workers. However, other service users value the services provided. These experiences need to be recorded and used to inform further commissioning processes.

Deleted

 

This recommendations is no longer relevant as new  assessment framework due to be implemented in December which will consolidate improvements already made

CSSIW Annual Review and Evaluation of Performance 2010-2011 (October 2011)

Adult Services

9. Develop and improve reporting on the outcomes achieved for and by service users.

The Vale has begun to use an outcome focussed version of the Unified Assessment process. This should enable it to focus on the outcomes that citizens are deriving from the services they receive. The Vale needs to develop an outcome focus to contracts for services.

 

Deleted

 

This recommendations is no longer relevant as new  assessment framework due to be implemented in December which will consolidate improvements already made

Annual Improvement Reports

Data Quality Review (August 2013)

1.  SCC/001 – The rate of delayed transfers of care for social care reasons per 1,000

population aged 75 or over.  Minutes are generated for every monthly delayed transfer of care case meeting. These should be circulated to all parties concerned and discussed as the first agenda item at the next meeting. This will record all patients discussed and the

agreed outcomes.

The testing showed that the information recorded on the HOWIS system was incorrect and did not reflect the validated delayed transfer of care cases.

 

Completed. Duplicate systems remain in place to ensure accurate monitoring.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the above actions be agreed as completed.

 

(2)       T H A T the matter be referred to the Audit Committee for further consideration.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  In order to achieve continuous improvement of Council services.'

 

(This item was considered in conjunction with Agenda Item No. 7 'Regulatory Reports - Decision Tracking’)

 

 

1070   REGULATORY REPORTS - IMPROVEMENT TRACKING (MD) -

 

Committee were offered an opportunity to view a summary of all recommendations and proposals set out in Regulatory Reports and to track implementation of improvements to address those recommendations/proposals. 

 

The Council had a number of regulators who passed judgements about the work of the Council and who made various recommendations/proposals for improvements to services.  These reports and recommendations/proposals were generally (but not always) brought to Audit Committee and were often also considered by the Scrutiny Committees and Cabinet. 

 

However, there had not previously been the ability to oversee and track the implementation of recommendations/proposals in one place.

 

Attached at Appendix 1 to the report was a list of all recommendations/proposals made in regulatory reports since January 2011 where recommendations/proposals had not yet been fully implemented.  These included:

  • Estyn Inspection - Education Service (September 2013) - actions commencing
  • WAO Data Quality Review (August 2013) - action underway
  • Estyn Inspection - Adult and Community Learning (February 2013) - actions underway
  • Review of the Governance Arrangements of the Joint Education Service (June 2013) - actions underway
  • Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales Annual Review and Evaluation of Performance 2011/2012 (November 2012) - actions completed
  • Wales Audit Office Information Management Review Feedback (April 2012) - actions not progressing
  • Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales Review of Adult Services and Vale Community Resources Services October 2011 (February 2012) - remaining actions to be deleted as they were no longer relevant
  • Wales Audit Office Annual Improvement Report (January 2012) - actions completed
  • Wales Audit Office Review of HR and Workforce Planning (November 2011) - actions well underway
  • Wales Audit Officer Report on Delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants (November 2011) - actions well underway
  • Wales Audit Office Review of Technology (October 2011) - actions nearing completion
  • Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales Annual Review and Evaluation of Performance 2010/2011 (October 2011) - actions well underway
  • Wales Audit Office Annual Improvement Report (January 2011) - actions completed.

It was proposed that Audit Committee receive a six monthly report, with updates on the implementation of recommendations/proposals.  Wherever possible, updated information would be sourced from Ffynnon and Service Plans in order to minimise work for officers. 

 

The single plan had been considered by Scrutiny Committees (Lifelong Learning) - 20th January, 2014; (Corporate Resources) - 21st January, 2014; (Social Care and Health) - 10th February, 2014 and amendments made to the plan following due consideration by Elected Members. 

 

The Audit Committee was asked to agree that actions identified as such as completed or deleted, following which they would be removed from future tracking reports.  These completed actions would be archived along with the minute reference to maintain a clear audit trail. 

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the work that had been achieved to address the recommendations/proposals that have been made by regulators be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the completed or deleted actions be removed from the single plan.

 

Reason for decisions

 

(1&2)  In order to achieve continuous improvement of Council Services.

 

 

1071   ANNUAL FINANCIAL AUDIT OUTLINE (MD) -

 

Committee received the External Auditor’s Annual Financial Outline for 2013-14.

 

Ms. G. Turner circulated a pamphlet entitled 'External Audit - Planning the Financial Statements Audit’ to assist the Members of the Committee in considering this item.

 

The Annual Financial Audit Outline had been prepared by the Council’s External Auditor to meet the requirement of the auditing standards and proper audit practices.  It set out the work to be undertaken by the Appointed Auditor at the Vale of Glamorgan Council under the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004.

 

The formal roles and responsibilities of the Appointed Auditor were outlined in Appendix A to the report.  The Appointed Auditor was required to examine and certify the accounts of the Council, satisfy himself that the accounts gave a true and fair view of the Council’s financial position, complied with all the relevant legal requirements that had been prepared in accordance with proper practice.

 

In addition, the Appointed Auditor was required to satisfy himself that the Council had made proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources; certified that the audit had been completed in accordance with the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004 and certified claims and returns.

 

The report highlighted the key elements of the audit engagement at the Vale of Glamorgan Council, and confirmed that there were no known threats to the independence of the Appointed Auditor or other audit staff.

 

Having reviewed the contents of the report, it was

 

RESOLVED - T H AT the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

So that Committee are aware of the work to be undertaken by the Council’s External Auditor Grant Thornton UKLLP.

 

 

1072   UPDATE ON THE PERFORMANCE AUDIT PROGRAMME 2013-14 (MD) -

 

Committee received an update on the Performance Audit Programme 2013/14 as produced by the Wales Audit Office.

 

The Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 and the Local Government Act 1999 require the Auditor General to carry out an annual Improvement Assessment to determine whether the Vale of Glamorgan was likely to comply with the requirements of Part 1 of the Measure.  This involved:

 

-           a review of the Council’s arrangements to secure continuous improvement

-           improvement studies of areas which may hinder improvement or transformation or give rise to inefficiencies

-           bespoke piece of work related to the Council’s improvement objectives and arrangements

-           an audit of the Council’s published improvement plans and its self-assessment of performance.

 

A copy of the Performance Audit Programme update was attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the update on the Performance Audit Programme for 2013-14 be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

In order to review and progress the Performance Audit Programme.

 

 

1073   RISK MANAGEMENT - CORPORATE RISK REGISTER REVIEW (CRMG) -

 

Committee were updated on the current position of the Corporate Risk Register. 

 

The Corporate Risk Management Group (CRMG) meet five times per year to consider the position of each risk detailed on the Corporate Risk Register.  The Group considers any changes in either internal or external environment, including the introduction of mitigating controls which may cause each risk to be re-evaluated.

 

A checklist of the following twelve risk 'themes’ was attached to each individual corporate risk in order to best assess the nature of the risk and its potential effect(s): 

  • Business Continuity
  • Collaboration
  • Sustainability (including social inclusion)
  • Health and Safety
  • Workforce Planning
  • Sickness Absence
  • Equalities
  • Information Management (including E-Government)
  • Project Management
  • Financial Management
  • Communication
  • Reputation.

The meeting of the CRMG in December 2013 decided that the risks associated with the Central South Consortium Joint Education Services in terms of the delivery of statutory school improvement functions should be added to the Corporate Risk Register.

 

A report detailing the current risk register and proposing the inclusion of the Joint Education Service as a risk and the deletion of Project Management was endorsed by Corporate Management Team on 16th April, 2014. 

 

CMT also recommended that the Head of Human Resources be consulted as to whether the Joint Evaluation risk still merited a position on the register.  They also asked the Head of Human Resources to ensure that the Workforce Needs risk adequately reflected issues around the recruitment of specific skills and succession planning, particularly in light of the report of the Williams Commission.  The Head of Human Resources was currently undertaking work to implement the recommendations of CMT.

 

CMT increased the score of the School Investment Strategy risk from a 6 (medium) to a 9 (medium/high) in light of funding complexities. 

 

CMT also recommended that a risk in relation to Corporate Safeguarding be added to the register.  A risk template was currently being drafted by the Director of Social Services.

 

There were currently 12 risks included in the Corporate Risk Register.  These were outlined below together with their related corporate risk 'themes’, allocated 'owner’ and risk score:

 

Risk Title

Risk Theme

Risk Owner

Risk Score

Financial implications of job evaluation and equal pay conditions and their impact on workforce planning

Business Continuity, Workforce Planning, Equalities, Financial Management

Head of Human Resources

(Reuben Bergman)

6 (Medium)

Failure to deliver the School Investment Strategy

Business Continuity, Sustainability (including Social Inclusion), Health and Safety, Equalities, Financial Management

Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

(Paula Ham)

9 (Medium / High)

(Risk score increased at CMT from 6)

Failure to meet Welsh Housing Quality Standards (WHQS)

Sustainability (including Social Inclusion), Project Management, Financial Management, Communication, Reputation

Director of Visible Services and Housing

(Miles Punter)

6 (Medium)

Failure to meet the national waste agenda and targets.

 

Business Continuity, Collaboration, Sustainability (including Social Inclusion), Workforce Planning, Project Management, Financial Management

Director of Visible Services and Housing

(Miles Punter)

6 (Medium)

Inability to anticipate and plan for the workforce needs of the future in order to meet changing services requirements.

Business Continuity, Sustainability (including Social Inclusion), Workforce Planning, Equalities, Financial Management

Head of Human Resources

(Reuben Bergman)

6 (Medium)

Ability to maintain services to an acceptable standard in light of reduced funding levels

Business Continuity, Collaboration, Sustainability (including Social Inclusion), Workforce Planning, Equalities, Project Management, Financial Management

Head of Financial Services

(Clive Teague)

9 (Medium / High)

The failure to implement adequate information security management systems across the Council

 

Business Continuity, Collaboration, Information Management (including E-Government), Project Management

Chairperson - Information Security and Governance Board

(Dave Vining)

9 (Medium / High)

Failure to adapt to the impact of climate change and failure to mitigate climate change in the Vale of Glamorgan

Sustainability (including Social Inclusion), Health and Safety, Workforce Planning, Financial Management

Head of Performance and Development

(Huw Isaac)

6 (Medium)

Failing to manage the collaboration agenda effectively

 

Collaboration, Sustainability (including Social Inclusion), Equalities, Project Management, Financial Management

Head of Performance and Development

(Huw Isaac)

6 (Medium)

Welfare Reform

Collaboration, Sustainability (including Social Inclusion), Workforce Planning, Equalities, Information Management (including E-Government), Financial Management

Head of Financial Services

(Clive Teague)

9 (Medium / High)

Local Development Plan

Sustainability (including Social Inclusion), Project Management, Financial Management

Operational Manager, Development Services

(Emma Reed)

9 (Medium / High)

Failure to deliver statutory School Improvement Functions

Business Continuity, Collaboration, Sustainability (including Social Inclusion), Workforce Planning, Sickness Absence, Information Management (including E-Government), Project Management, Financial Management

Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

(Lynette Jones)

6 (Medium)

 

 

An Internal Audit Review into risk management was completed during March 2014.  The 12 recommendations made are outlined below, along with proposals made by the Corporate Risk Management Group to ensure compliance:

 

Recommendation

Criticality

Management Comments

CRMG comments

1. A timetable should be created which covers all of the Corporate Risks within a 12 month cycle.

Merits Attention

(AJ)

The number of meetings scheduled for 2014/15 has been increased to accommodate this.

The number of CRMG meetings has been increased for 2014/15 to 5 meetings to ensure there is sufficient time to address all risks in the register within 12 months.

2. All members should make every effort to attend for the full duration of the meeting or send a deputy instead that can.

Merits Attention

(CC)

A reminder will be issued to this effect.

CRMG members were reminded to attend CRMG meetings or send a deputy in the last meeting invitation sent. The CRMG agreed that attendance was generally good.

3. Consideration should be given where appropriate for the inclusion on the risk register of those areas raised in the Annual Governance Statement as Corporate Risks.

Merits Attention

(AJ)

This has already been considered in developing the existing Corporate Risk Register.

The group agreed that they already take issues raised in the Annual Governance Statement into account.

4. All departments should be represented on a regular basis at the CRMG meetings. A replacement should be nominated if the standing group member cannot attend.

Merits Attention

(CC)

See recommendation 2.

See recommendation 2.

5. The Corporate Management Team should receive six monthly update reports on the progress of all corporate risks.

Merits Attention

(AJ)

The update scheduled for December 2013 was deferred pending the completion of the Audit review.

The current timetable for reports to CMT and Audit Committee has slipped due to reports being put on hold pending completion of the Internal Audit review. Agreed that a report will go to CMT on the 16/04/14 and to Audit Committee on the 28/04/14.

6. CMT should review the strategic approach to Corporate Risk Management with regard to Project Management.

Significant

(AJ/CMT)

This will be included in the April 2014 update to CMT.

The deletion of the Project Management risk was approved by CMT on 16 April 2014 for the following reasons:

Project Management is highlighted as a risk theme in the risk register and is therefore considered through other corporate risk.

CMT regularly consider Project Management across the council.

7. In line with other Corporate Risks, Project Management should be reviewed as a minimum once a year.

Significant

(AJ)

See recommendation 1.

See recommendation 1.

8. An objective analysis of the Project Management risk should be undertaken to decide if the risk score currently applied is correct.

Merits Attention

(CRMG)

This is a part of the existing risk management process.

See recommendation 6.

9. Risk Registers should be updated to reflect the current position of the controls in place.

Merits Attention

(Risk owners)

This was raised at the December meeting of the CRMG.

The CRMG agreed that all risks owners will undertake an update of their risks in light of new service plans.

10. Risks should be reappraised in terms of its controls and countermeasures, especially in relation to revenue projects.

Merits Attention

(CRMG)

This relates to the project management risk. See recommendation 6.

See recommendation 6.

11. Where appropriate risk mitigation measures should also contain information regarding the values in terms of percentages and costs in reducing the risk.

Merits Attention

This is included where appropriate.

The group agreed to ensure figures were included in risks where appropriate to aid with the assessment of the risk level and/or mitigation of the risk.

12. The timescales contained in the risk registers should be updated to reflect their current positions with realistic timescales.

Merits Attention

See recommendation 9.

See recommendation 9.

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the current position in relation to Corporate Risk be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To recognise amendments to the Corporate Risk Register and the current position of risks and to ensure that all fundamental risks facing the Council are regularly monitored, addressed, reviewed and updated.

 

 

1074   AUDIT COMMITTEE - TERMS OF REFERENCE (HARM) -

 

Committee were advised of proposed amendments to the Audit Committee’s Terms of Reference. 

 

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) had published 'Audit Committee’s - Practical Guidance for Local Authorities and Police 2013 Edition’.  This publication set out CIPFA’s guidance on the function and operation of Audit Committees in local authorities.  The guidance represented CIPFA’s view of best practice for Audit Committees and recognised that Audit Committees were a key component of governance.  Within the publication, it stated the purpose of an Audit Committee was to provide those charged with governance independent assurance on the adequacy of the risk management framework, the internal control environment and the integrity of the financial report and annual governance process’.

 

Taking into consideration the suggested terms of reference as outlined in the CIPFA publication, together with the necessary regulations including the Accounts and Audit (Wales) Regulations 2005; the Accounts and Audit (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2010; the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 and CIPFA’s Delivering Good Governance in Local Government Framework; the current Terms of Reference for the Audit Committee were proposed to be amended as set out in Appendix A to the report.

 

The proposed amendments had been necessary to ensure that the Audit Committee’s Terms of Reference were aligned to those outlined in the CIPFA publication and to ensure compliance with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards.  The amended Terms of Reference would be presented to Full Council for approval, following which the Constitution would be amended accordingly.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the report and the proposed amended Terms of Reference attached at Appendix A to the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the proposed amended Terms of Reference be presented to Full Council for approval.

 

Reason for decisions

 

(1&2)  To keep the Audit Committee informed and to ensure that the Audit Committee’s Terms of Reference were kept up to date.

 

 

1075   AUDIT COMMITTEE - WHISTLE BLOWING POLICY AND PROCEDURE (HARM) -

 

Committee were presented with the Council’s revised Whistle Blowing Policy and Procedure, for information purposes.

 

On 24th March, 2014 Cabinet had approved an amended Whistle Blowing Policy, its administration and the reporting procedures.  Cabinet had resolved:

 

'The amended Whistle Blowing Policy (including the Leader’s change above) as attached at Appendix B to the report, its administration and the reporting procedures to approved.

 

The draft Whistle Blowing Policy be referred to a meeting of Full Council for inclusion in the Council’s Constitution.

 

The additional information appended to the draft Policy to assist workers and their line managers who may be working under a collaborative agreement to raise Whistle Blowing concerns with the appropriate organisation when the employment of the service responsibility falls outside of that of the Council be noted.’

 

The Council’s Whistle Blowing Policy was intended to encourage and enable employees to raise concerns with the Council without fear of victimisation, subsequent discrimination or embarrassment. 

 

The Policy played an important part in meeting the Council’s commitment to openness, honesty and ethical propriety and complimented the objectives of a number of other Council policies and supported the Council’s Anti-Fraud and Bribery Policy and the Code of Conduct for Qualifying Employees of the Council.

 

The revised draft Whistle Blowing Policy was attached at Appendix A to the report and it reflected the changes implemented by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.

 

The new draft Policy included additional provisions including guidance for workers and their line managers to assist them in reporting their concerns under the Whistle Blowing Policy and progressing this within the Council.

 

In considering Paragraph 7 of the revised Whistle Blowing Policy 'Raising Your Concerns’, in particular the reference to Contact One Vale in the paragraph relating to the Protection of Vulnerable Adults, Members expressed the view that, in view of the sensitive nature of the matters being dealt with, they should be dealt with by a suitably qualified member of staff.

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the revised Whistle Blowing Policy be endorsed prior to its consideration by Full Council.

 

(2)       T H A T Council be requested to give an assurance that Contact One Vale will deal with calls relating to the Protection of Vulnerable Adults by a suitably qualified member of staff.

 

Reason for decision

 

(1)       To keep the Audit Committee informed and up to date on the new Whistle Blowing Policy and Procedure.

 

(2)       To deal with calls relating to the Protection of Vulnerable Adults in an appropriate manner.

 

 

1076   2013/14 ANNUAL INTERNAL AUDIT OPINION (HARM) -

 

Committee were presented with the Head of Accountancy and Resource Management’s Annual Opinion Report on the overall adequacy of the Council’s internal control environment.

 

Committee considered a report which provided a brief description of the role of Internal Audit, the control environment in which internal audit operated and also provided a summary of work carried out during the year to 31st March, 2014.  A statement on the overall opinion on the internal control environment was also given in support of the Annual Governance Statement which the Council was required to include with the Statement of Accounts. 

 

Internal Audit was an assurance function that primarily provided an independent and objective opinion to the organisation on the control environment comprising risk management, internal control and governance by evaluating its effectiveness in achieving the organisation’s objectives.  It objectively examined, evaluated and reported on the adequacy of the control environment as a contribution to the proper, economic and effective use of resources. 

 

Attached at Appendices A and B to the report were detailed reports (including the outturn for 2013/14) on the work undertaken by Internal Audit during the financial year 2013/14.  The purpose of the report was to satisfy the requirements of the Accounts and Audit (Wales) Regulations 2005 as amended and the Head of Internal Audit’s annual reporting requirements set out in the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards.  The following information should be forthcoming: 

  • include an opinion on the overall adequacy and effectiveness of the organisation’s control environment
  • disclose any qualifications to that opinion, together with the reasons for the disqualification
  • present a summary of the audit work from which the opinion was derived, including reliance placed on work by other assurance bodies
  • draw attention to any issues the Head of Internal Audit judges particularly relevant to the preparation of the Annual Governance Statement.
  • compare the actual work undertaken with the planned work and summarise the performance of the internal audit function against its performance measures and targets
  • comment on compliance with the Standards of the Code
  • communicate the results of the internal audit quality assurance programme.

The opinion contained within the report related to the system of internal control at the Council and the overall control environment at the Council and the overall control environment in place.  The system of internal control was designed to manage risk to a reasonable level rather than to eliminate the risk of failure to achieve corporate/service policies, aims and objectives; it could therefore only provide reasonable and not absolute assurance of effectiveness.  Included within Appendix A to the report was the supporting evidence which listed all those assignments which had been completed during the year where an audit opinion had been applied.

 

On the basis of internal audit undertaken in 2013/14 and taking into account all available evidence, it was the opinion of the Head of Accountancy and Resource Management that a reasonable assurance level could be applied to standards of internal control at the Vale of Glamorgan Council for the year ended 31st March, 2014.

 

Key governance, risk management and internal control issues had been identified during the year and related specifically to compliance matters as outlined in Section 2 of the report attached at Appendix A to the report.  In addition, with significant savings required throughout the Council, there was an inherent risk of breakdown in the systems of control particularly where roles, responsibilities and systems were changing.

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the contents of the report on 2013/14 Head of Audit’s Annual Internal Audit Opinion be approved.

 

Reason for decision

 

To keep the Audit Committee informed.

 

 

1077   INTERNAL AUDIT SHARED SERVICE SELF-ASSESSMENT AGAINST THE PUBLIC SECTION INTERNAL AUDIT STANDARDS (HARM) -

 

Committee were informed of the results of the self-assessment of the Internal Audit Shared Service function against the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS), effective from 1st April, 2013. 

 

The PSIAS was applicable to all areas of the United Kingdom Public Sector and was based on the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors International Professional Practices Framework. 

 

The Operational Manager - Audit had undertaken a self-assessment to demonstrate the extent to which the Internal Audit Shared Service complied with the PSIAS and to identify areas where further work was required to demonstrate compliance. 

 

The self-assessment had recently been completed.  A summary of the assessment findings was presented at Appendix A to the report, highlighting where the existing service complied with the PSIAS and where action was required to address areas of current partial/non-compliance.

 

The PSIAS were broken down into two main areas:

  • Attribute Standards; address the characteristics of organisations and parties performing Internal Audit activities
  • Performance Standards; describes the nature of Internal Audit activities and provides quality criteria against which the performance of these services could be evaluated.

Appendix A to the report demonstrated that the Internal Audit Shared Service was fully compliant with eight of the Standards and partially compliant with the remaining three.  An Action Plan (attached at Appendix B to the report) had been formulated to assist the Internal Audit Shared Service in working towards compliance with the requirements of the PSIAS. 

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T compliance with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the actions undertaken be endorsed.

 

Reason for decisions

 

(1&2)  To keep the Audit Committee informed and to ensure compliance with the PSIAS.

 

 

1078   AUDIT COMMITTEE - FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME (HARM) -

 

Committee were presented with an update on the 2013/14 Forward Work Programme and the proposed Forward Work Programme for 2014/15. 

 

In order to assist the Audit Committee in ensuring that due consideration had been given by the Committee to all aspects of their core functions, an update on the Forward Work Programme for 2013/14 was attached at Appendix A to the report.  In addition, attached at Appendix B was the proposed Forward Work Programme for 2014/15 for consideration and approval.

 

RESOLVED -

(1)       T H A T the update on the Forward Work Programme for 2013/14 be noted, Committee being satisfied that all aspects of the core functions had been adequately reported.

 

(2)       T H A T the proposed 2014/15 Forward Work Programme be approved.

 

Reason for decisions

 

(1&2)  To keep the Audit Committee informed.

 

 

1079   INTERNAL AUDIT SHARED SERVICE CHARTER 2014/15 (HARM) -

 

Committee considered the Council’s Internal Audit Shared Service Charter for 2014/15. 

 

One of the key roles which demonstrated that Audit Committee’s oversight was the approval of the Internal Audit Shared Services Charter.  The Committee had approved the first Charter at its meeting held on 29th April, 2013. 

 

The Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) required the Head of Audit to review the Charter periodically, but final approval resided with the Audit Committee. 

 

The Internal Audit Shared Service Charter for 2014/15 was attached at Appendix A to the report.  It had been reviewed to ensure it continued to reflect the requirements of the PSIAS and only minor amendments/updates had been made which were identified as track changes within Appendix A.  These included: 

  • the change of designation for the Section 151 Officer within the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend County Borough Councils
  • changes to highlight the implementation of the Quality Assurance and Improvement Programme.

RESOLVED - T H A T the Internal Audit Shared Service Charter for 2014/15 as appended to the report be approved.

 

Reason for decision

 

To keep the Audit Committee informed and to approve the Internal Audit Shared Service Charter for 2014/15 to ensure compliance with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS).

 

 

1080   PROPOSED INTERNAL AUDIT SHARED SERVICE STRATEGY AND ANNUAL RISK-BASED AUDIT PLAN 2014/15 (HARM) -

 

Committee received the proposed Internal Audit Shared Service Strategy and Annual Risk-Based Audit Plan for the year April 2014 to March 2015.

 

It was considered important for Internal Audit to plan effectively to ensure that it contributed to the Council’s objectives at both strategic and operational levels.  Planning enabled Internal Audit to demonstrate both internally and externally that they were making best use of scarce resources.

 

Effective planning was one of the Standards contained within the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) and against which our external auditors assess us.  It was from this overall assessment of Internal Audit’s programme of work and the contribution that this made to the overall control environment of the Authority that the external auditors would draw the necessary assurances they needed. 

 

Attached at Appendix A to the report was the proposed Internal Audit Strategy document for 2014/15 and the Annual Risk-Based Audit Plan 2014/15.  It demonstrated how the Internal Audit Shared Service would be delivered and developed in accordance with its Terms of Reference and how it would link to the Council’s objectives and priorities.  The Strategy would be reviewed and updated annually in consultation with stakeholders, namely the Audit Committee, Corporate Management Team, External Auditors and Senior Management.

 

The 2014/15 proposed Annual Risk-Based Audit Plan of work had been formulated to ensure compliance with the Standards as contained within the PSIAS, in order to keep the Audit Committee fully informed, and to ensure compliance with Standards for Internal Audit.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the proposed Internal Audit Shared Service Strategy and Annual Risk-Based Audit Plan for 2014/15 be approved.

 

Reason for decision

 

To keep the Audit Committee informed and to approve the proposed Internal Audit Shared Service Strategy and Annual Risk-Based Audit Plan for 2014/15 to ensure compliance with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS).