|Date: Tuesday 24th November 2015 Time: 9.30 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale|
|Present||And||With||Report to||Report of|
|COUNCILLOR J. MASON (CHAIR)|
Councillors M. Cross
Mrs. D. Rowberry
Apologies for absence were received from:-
Councillors N. Daniels, R. Jones, D. Owens and Derwyn Owen - Wales Audit Office
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS
No declarations of interest or dispensations were reported.
Consideration was given to the Minutes of the Audit Committee held on 29th September, 2015.
RESOLVED that the minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.
There were no actions arising from the Audit Committee held on 29th September, 2015.
WALES AUDIT OFFICE ANNUAL IMPROVEMENT REPORT 2014/2015
Consideration was given to report of the Corporate Performance Manager.
The WAO Representative confirmed that this report had been presented to Council, and was based on the work of the Wales Audit Office and relevant Regulators over the past year. The conclusion was that the Council has the potential to comply with the requirements of the Local Government Measure during 2015/16, and was in a positive position compared to previous years, and moving in the right direction.
However, the key message was not to be complacent, and to ensure that the arrangements for improvement are fully embedded across all services in order to deliver intended outcomes. The WAO Representative thanked Officers and Members for their cooperation over the past year.
The Chair referred to page 39 of the WAO report which stated that 'the Council's Internal Audit current or forward work programme did not include any work on safeguarding'. The Chair reported that safeguarding was included on the 2014/15 Audit Plan and a planned audit was undertaken during Quarter 4. The draft report was issued during March 2015 and the outcome 'Reasonable Assurance' was reported to Audit Committee in July 2015. He confirmed that safeguarding would continue to be risk assessed, and when required included in future Audit Plans.
The WAO Representative explained that this was a timing issue in terms of the safeguarding work undertaken and the preparation of the Annual Improvement Report.
In response to comments made by a Member regarding safeguarding, the Head of Education Transformation & Performance said Members would be aware of Estyn's last monitoring visit covering all recommendations. In terms of the safeguarding recommendation he reported that informal feedback was very positive. Hopefully formal notification would be received shortly from Estyn recognising the safeguarding developments taking place, and that progress had been made with safeguarding across the Council.
In terms of incidents of bullying, this was fed into the safeguarding data report presented to Members on a quarterly basis.
RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the information contained therein be acknowledged; and future reports be received from the Wales Audit Office.
AUDIT PLAN PROGRESS REPORT SEPTEMBER TO OCTOBER 2015
Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Finance Officer.
The Interim Head of Internal Audit presented the report which updated the Audit Committee on the progress against the Internal Audit Plan for the period 1st September, 2015 to 31st October, 2015.
The Officer went through the report and highlighted points contained.
In response to a question raised by a Member regarding comparability in the number of audits completed compared to the Audit Plan percentage achieved, the Officer undertook to look into the matter to determine the best approach in presenting this performance data.
A brief discussion ensued when the Officer clarified points raised, and it was
RESOLVED that the report be accepted, and the Audit Committee note the progress made during the period 1st September, 2015 to October, 2015.
EXTERNAL ASSESSMENT OF INTERNAL AUDIT
Consideration was given to report of the Chief Finance Officer.
The Interim Head of Internal Audit presented the report which sought approval for a preferred option for the External Assessment for Internal Audit.
The Officer went through the report and highlighted points contained therein.
In response to a question raised by a Member the WAO Representative said it was the Authority's decision as to which option to agree. However, the report outlined the fact that other Authorities were considering a similar approach, but no details in terms of how many etc.
A Member said if the Authority could save money and be confident with the quality of the audit, then the preferred Option 3 would be value for money.
The Interim Head of Internal Audit confirmed that if Option 3 was approved, further reports on peer groups etc would be submitted. In terms of the quality of the audit, the Officer said there was standards to be complied with.
The Head of Financial Service clarified that Option 3 would involve Internal Audit undertaking an internal self- assessment which would be externally evaluated by the Head of Internal Audit from another Local Authority.
RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 3 be approved, to adopt the internal Self-Assessment peer review approach as the preferred option for the External Assessment.