Agenda Item No 13
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Audit Committee: 27th July 2016
Report of the Head of Finance / Section 151 Officer
Purpose of the Report
The purpose of this report is to provide the Audit Committee with an update on the Council's Whistleblowing procedures and processes.
THAT Members consider the content of this report.
Reason for the Recommendation
To ensure that the Audit Committee is fulfilling its role and responsibilities in accordance with its Terms of Reference, in particular "To monitor the Council's policy on "Raising Concerns at Work" and make recommendations to Cabinet and / or Council as appropriate.
One of the functions of the Audit Committee as set out in its Terms of Reference is "To monitor Council policies on "Raising Concerns at Work" and the anti-fraud and bribery strategy and the Council's complaints procedures and to make recommendations to Cabinet and / or Council as appropriate". Therefore, the content of this report assists the Committee in fulfilling its role and responsibilities in accordance with the requirements of the Terms of Reference.
The Council's current Whistleblowing Policy has been operational since 25th March 2014. The purpose of the policy is to make employees aware of their responsibility to the public. The policy and procedures apply to employees, excluding those in schools employed by the Governing Body, but including temporary staff, trainees, independent contractors and those engaged through an external agency.
Relevant Issues and Options
The Council's Whistleblowing Policy provides clear guidance to the employee on the types of concerns that should be raised, how to raise their concerns and to whom and the framework for protected disclosure and guidelines for managers. The Policy (including the school template policy) are readily available to staff via the Human Resources pages on Staffnet, along with general guidance for staff on what should be deemed as whistleblowing, what constitutes a grievance, template forms for completion, points of contact, Wales Audit Office leaflets and information on how to whistleblow to an external organisation. The corporate policy also forms part of the Council's constitution.
The current Policy clear states that the Operational Manager - Customer Relations is responsible for the registration and maintaining of a central record of all whistleblowing concerns and to monitor the progress and outcome of each investigation undertaken. The Head of Human Resources is responsible for updating the policy as required.
During 2015/16 there have been 4 recorded instances of whistleblowing under the corporate policy. Two related to Social Services, One related to ICT and one to a school (that was reported under the corporate policy). The subject matter of the cases varied between staff behaviour, non-compliance with Council policies and operational and quality of service issues.
In addition, during 2015/16 an exercise was undertaken by senior management to raise the profile of the Whistleblowing Policy and ensure that all cases are reported and logged centrally. It is anticipated that a similar exercise will take place on an annual basis thus ensuring a corporate overview, allowing consistency of investigation and identification of any trends.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
Effective audit planning and monitoring are key contributors in ensuring that the Authority's assets and interests are properly accounted for and safeguarded.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
None directly from this report
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
Provision of an adequate and effective Internal Audit function is a legal requirement under the Accounts and Audit (Wales) Regulations 2014 as amended from time to time.
Crime and Disorder Implications
Pursuing initiatives to prevent, detect and deter crime is encompassed within the terms of reference under which the audit function operates.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
None as a direct consequence of this report.
The work of audit is intended to assist in the achievement of all corporate and service objectives.
Policy Framework and Budget
The proposals in this report are in accordance with the policy framework and budget.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
No further consultation is proposed.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
Corporate Performance and Resources
Helen Smith - Operational Manager - Audit Tel: 01656 754901
Carys Lord - Head of Finance / Section 151 Officer