Meeting documents

Audit Committee
Monday, 19th June, 2017 10.30 am

Date: Monday 19th June 2017 Time: 10.30 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

PresentAndWithReport toReport of
MR. PETER WILLIAMS (CHAIR)
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (174K/bytes)
Noted
2. SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION

It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.

Noted
3. APOLOGIES

No apologies for absence were reported.

Noted
4. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

No declarations of interest or dispensations were reported.

Noted
5. APPOINTMENT OF CHAIR

The Vice-Chair sought nominations for the appointment of Chair of the Audit Committee for 2017/2018.

A Member proposed that Mr. Peter Williams be appointed to the role, and this proposal was seconded.

Another Member proposed that Councillor M. Cross be appointed to the role, and this proposal was also seconded.

Upon a vote being taken it was

RESOLVED that Mr. Peter Williams be appointed as Chair of the Audit Committee for 2017/2018.

Agreed
6. AUDIT COMMITTEE
Minutes (302K/bytes)
Cofnodion (200K/bytes)

The minutes of the Audit Committee held on 14th March, 2017 were submitted, whereupon:-

Wales Audit Office - Accounting Statements Memorandum for 2015-16 - Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

In response to comments made by a Member, the Head of Financial Service explained that whilst the Authority's statement of accounts was issued an unqualified audit report by the Auditor General, some proposals were made for the Authority to consider around the Council's closedown and accounts preparation processes. The Officer confirmed that these proposals had been considered when compiling the 2016/17 accounts.

Councillor M. Cross left the meeting at this juncture.

Audit Plan Progress Report October 2016 to January 2017

In response to a question raised by a Member regarding the review of the Internal Audit Service, the Head of Internal Audit explained that the Audit Plan was reported to the Audit Committee in July 2017, and part of that work was examining the structure of the Internal Audit Section and options moving forward. She confirmed that this work was still ongoing, and a more definitive structure was intended moving forward.

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the minutes be received as a true record of proceedings.

Agreed
7. ACTION SHEET

There were no actions arising from the meeting of the Audit Committee held on the 14th March, 2017.

Noted
8. CODE OF GOVERNANCE
Report (127K/bytes)
Appex A (171K/bytes)

Consideration was given to report of the Head of Internal Audit.

The Head of Internal Audit spoke to the report and highlighted points contained therein. The Authority has had a Code of Governance in place since November 2010 which set out the governance framework for the Authority and was produced in line with the CIPFA/SOLACE document 'Delivering Good Governance in Local Government'. The Code was reviewed on at least an annual basis to ensure it reflected the current governance arrangements of the Authority.


A brief discussion ensued when the Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance clarified points raised by a Member regarding Appendix 1, the contribution to the National Well-being Goals.

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the attached Code of Governance be adopted.

Agreed
9. AUDIT PLAN OUTTURN 2016-2017
Report (127K/bytes)
Appex A (45K/bytes)
Appex B (60K/bytes)

Consideration was given to report of the Head of Internal Audit.

The Head of Internal Audit spoke to the report and highlighted points contained therein. The Internal Audit Plan was based on formal risk assessments with the work planned on a five year rolling programme, and the Audit Plan for the period 2016-2021 was presented to the Audit Committee in June 2016. This report provided a summary of the overall achievement for the year, and Appendix A showed all audits undertaken during the financial year and their status as at 31st March, 2017, and Appendix B showed the performance data for the Section for the same period.

She concluded that the Internal Audit Service had exceeded the target set for completion of 83% of the Audit Plan by the end of the financial year.

The Chair commended the Section for their excellent work and exceeding their target.

In response to a question raised by a Member, the Head of Internal Audit explained that following an audit of a service area, an audit report was produced giving an audit opinion, which was the judgement of the financial control systems in place within the service area.

In terms of the audit opinion she explained that reasonable or full assurance showed that robust financial controls were in place; limited assurance meant that more work was needed in some areas, however, no assurance was a matter of concern and would need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.


A Member referred to Appendix A, namely the Audit Plan 2016/17 for Schools, and expressed concern that there seemed to be a variance in the number of free school meals being reported. He said the Authority had reported that the number had reduced, but Primary Schools were reporting that the number of FSMs had increased. He also enquired regarding the status of DBS checks within schools which had been flagged up by the Audit Committee some time ago.

The Head of Internal Audit confirmed that DBS checks for school staff was in the Audit Plan. However, agency and supply staff would also be looked at going forward.

In relation to FSMs, the Head of Financial Services said a discrepancy had been identified in the information held by the Authority and the information held by schools, and a piece of work was being undertaken between the Housing Benefits Section and the Education Department to ascertain the reasons for the variation. She confirmed that outcome of this work would be reported back to the Audit Committee.

The Chair reported that a Members' briefing session had been arranged for the 26th July, 2017 on the Local Housing Allocations Policy and Welfare Reform Update, and suggested that a briefing note be included on the impact of Working Tax Credits on FSM eligibility.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and the plan outturn for the year be acknowledged.

Agreed
10. INTERNAL AUDIT - EXTERNAL QUALITY ASSESSMENT
Report (128K/bytes)
Appex (82K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Internal Audit.

The Head of Internal Audit presented the report and explained that the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards were introduced in April 2013 to ensure an effective internal audit service that met the needs of an organisation, added value and assisted the organisation in meeting its objectives.

As part of those Standards there was a requirement for the Internal Audit Service to undergo an external assessment at least once every five years, to be conducted by a suitably qualified independent assessor from outside the organisation.

The Standards outlined two approaches for undertaking the assessment, the first was a full assessment whereby the Authority would engage a contractor, however, the estimated cost for this was in the region of 10k. The second option was to conduct a self-assessment which would then be validated by an external reviewer.

The Audit Committee agreed to the peer review option and the Authority's external quality assessment was conducted in March 2017 by the Chief Internal Auditor for Swansea City Council.

The Head of Internal Audit said she was pleased to inform the Audit Committee that the Authority's Internal Audit Service had received the highest rating, and was considered to 'Generally Conform' to the Standards. The assessment considered 334 best practice requirements, of which the service was assessed against 304. Of these the service was found to comply with 292 with only 10 non-compliances and 2 partial compliances, and actions to redress these was listed in the action plan attached to the report.

The Head of Financial Service said this was a very pleasing report and confirmed that areas identified for improvement were not significant and could be addressed quickly. The Officer congratulated the Team for their hard work and achieving such a positive external assessment.

A Member said this was very good news for the Authority and suggested that a press release be issued.

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the Audit Committee acknowledge the responses provided in the corresponding action sheet.

Agreed
11. TIME OF FUTURE MEETINGS

Consideration was given to the time of future meetings, and it was


RESOLVED that Audit Committee continue to be held on Tuesdays at 9.30 a.m.

Agreed
DECISIONS UNDER DELEGATED POWERS