|Date: Tuesday 14th November 2017 Time: 9:30 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale|
|Present||And||With||Report to||Report of|
|MR. PETER WILLIAMS (CHAIR)|
The Chair reported that this was the first official meeting since the tragic death of Carl Sergeant, Welsh Government Minister and the Audit Committee stood as a mark of respect.
TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (173K/bytes)
It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.
The following apologies for absence were reported:-
Councillors H. McCarthy, W. Hodgins
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS
No declarations of interest or dispensations were reported.
The minutes of the Audit Committee held on 1st August, 2017 were submitted.
RESOLVED that the minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.
The action sheet arising from the Audit Committee held on 1st August, 2017 was submitted.
RESOLVED that the action sheet be noted.
The minutes of the special Audit Committee held on 12th September, 2017 were submitted.
RESOLVED that the minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.
There were no actions arising from the special meeting of the Audit Committee held on 12th September, 2017.
THE ANNUAL REPORT OF THE PUBLIC SERVICES OMBUDSMAN FOR WALES 2016/2017
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Consideration was given to report of the Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance.
The Corporate Support Manager presented the report which demonstrated the Council's performance in relation to service complaints, and complaints relating to the Members' Code of Conduct, and an explanation of the data was provided at the Appendix on page 31 of the report.
RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the information contained therein be acknowledged.
WALES AUDIT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE FOR THE AUDIT OF BLAENAU GWENT COUNTY BOROUGH COUNCIL'S 2017-18 IMPROVEMENT PLAN
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Consideration was given to report of the Head of Policy & Performance.
The Head of Financial Services presented the Wales Audit Office Certificate of Compliance following the audit of the Council's Improvement Plan 2017-18.
The Officer confirmed that the WAO certified that, following publication on the 27th July, 2017, an audit of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council's Improvement Plan was undertaken in accordance with Section 17 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 (the Measure), and the auditor's Code of Audit Practice. As a result of the audit, the WAO believed that the Council had discharged its duties under Section 15(6) to (9) of the Measure, and has acted in accordance with the Welsh Government guidance sufficiently to discharge its duties.
RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the compliance certificate dated August 2017 be acknowledged.
WALES AUDIT OFFICE:
SUMMARY OF LOCAL REVIEWS - BLAENAU GWENT CBC
GOOD GOVERNANCE WHEN DETERMINING SIGNIFICANT SERVICE CHANGE - BLAENAU GWENT CBC
SAVINGS PLANNING - BLAENAU GWENT - CBC
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At the invitation of the Chair, the Head of Financial Services presented the report which detailed the findings of the following Wales Audit Office reviews undertaken as part of their Regulatory Programme:-
- WAO Summary of Local Reviews - Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council (Appendix 1)
The Officer reported that Directorates and CLT had submitted their response to the WAO findings and endorsed the approach identified by the Directorate to respond to the Proposals for Improvement. She also confirmed that the report had been presented to the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee on the 4th September, 2017, and implementation of the action plans would be monitored through the Performance and Finance report.
RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the Audit Committee agree the level of assurance that implementation of the Proposals for Improvement be undertaken via the Council's Business Planning processes and monitored through the Performance and Finance report.
RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGY AND HANDBOOK
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At the invitation of the Chair, the Head of Internal Audit gave a presentation on the role of the Audit Committee and risks facing the Council, and the risk management process.
In response to comments made by a Member regarding ICT provision within the Authority, the Officer explained that ICT provision supporting Council services sat within the Corporate Risk Register and was continually reviewed by CMT.
The Head of Financial Services said concerns had been expressed by Members in relation to the performance of IT, however, the example of the Corporate Risk Register provided at Appendix 4 highlighted the risk in terms of what would happen in the event of a breakdown of the IT systems that supported Council services, and the controls in place to minimise the impact, i.e. system recovery plans etc.
In terms of the direct performance risks, the Officer confirmed that the Resources Section continued to work with the SRS to monitor performance and to resolve any issues arising on a day to day basis, and a report would also be submitted to Council in December on this issue.
In response to a question raised by a Member, the Head of Internal Audit explained the different levels of risk, and the process of escalation through the Service and Directorate Risk Registers to the Corporate Risk Register.
In response to comments made by a Member regarding scrutiny of the Corporate Risk Register in terms of the risks associated with budget savings proposals, another Member said development of the Joint Finance and Performance Report was intended to deal with those issues, and highlighted the budget risks and provided a narrative and accountability for each proposed saving. Regular monitoring of this report was key for the Authority in dealing with budget risks continually throughout the year.
The Vice-Chair sought assurance that the appropriate risk assessments had been undertaken in readiness for the roll out of Universal Credit.
The Head of Internal Audit confirmed that the Housing Benefits internal audit scheduled to be undertaken this year would look at Universal Credit process.
The Head of Financial Services also confirmed that the introduction of Welfare Reform had been identified as a potential service risk on the Housing Benefit Risk Register, and action plans were in place to prepare for the introduction of Universal Credit in April, and this was reviewed on a regular basis.
The WAO Officer said in terms of information being reported to the Audit Committee, consideration could be given to receiving regular updates on the Corporate Risk Register, with an overview of the key risks, and also where risks have been escalated or de-escalated to identify and ensure that action plans have been implemented sufficiently.
The Head of Internal Audit spoke to the report and highlighted points contained therein, and it was
FURTHER RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the Audit Committee:
i. Acknowledge the updated Risk Management Strategy and Risk Management Handbook and its adequacy in setting out the Council's expectations in relation to the management or risk;
ii. The Council's Risk Management arrangements continue to be regularly reviewed against best practice; and
iii. The Audit Committee receive regular updates on the Corporate Risk Register, with an overview of the key risks.
AUDIT PLAN PROGRESS REPORT FOR JULY TO OCTOBER 2017
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Consideration was given to report of the Chief Finance Officer.
The Audit Manager presented the report which provided an update on progress against the Internal Audit Plan for the period 1st July, 2017 to 31st October, 2017.
The Officer reported that as at 30th September, 2017 the Section had completed 34.8% of the Audit Plan against a target of 41.5%, which was below target, and it was recognised that a major contributing factor was the current vacant position.
The Officer reported that the new Senior Auditor post had been advertised on a 2 year fixed term basis, however, no interest had been received, and the post would now be re-advertised on a permanent basis.
RESOLVED that the report be accepted and progress on activities from the 2017/2018 Audit Plan be acknowledged.
|DECISIONS UNDER DELEGATED POWERS|