Agenda and minutes

Audit Committee
Tuesday, 17th November, 2020 9.30 am

Venue: Virtually via Microsoft Teams - if you would like to attend this meeting live via Microsoft Teams please contact committee.services@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk

Contact: Democratic Services  7788

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Simultaneous Translation

You are welcome to use Welsh at the meeting, a minimum notice period of 3 working days is required should you wish to do so.  A simultaneous translation service will be provided if requested.

Minutes:

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

 

2.

Apologies

To receive.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor M. Cross.

 

3.

Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

To receive.

Minutes:

The following declarations of interest were reported:

 

Councillor B. Summers - Item No. 6 Statement of Accounts for 2016/17, 2017/18 & 2018/19

 

Councillor J. Hill - Item No. 6 Statement of Accounts for 2016/17, 2017/18 & 2018/19

Item No. 7 External Audit of 2016/17 Statement of Accounts

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Item No. 8 External Audit of 2017/18 Statement of Accounts

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Item No. 9 External Audit of 2018/19 Statement of Accounts

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

 

4.

Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 472 KB

To receive the minutes of the Audit Committee held on 29th September, 2020.

 

(Please note the minutes are submitted for accuracy points only)

Minutes:

The minutes of the special Audit Committee held on 29th September, 2020 were submitted.

 

RESOLVED that the minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

 

5.

Action Sheet pdf icon PDF 13 KB

To receive the Action Sheet arising from the meeting of the Audit Committee held on 29th September, 2020.

Minutes:

The Action Sheet arising from the meeting of the Audit Committee held on 29th September, 2020 was submitted, whereupon:-

 

Business Resource Centre Decommissioning

 

The Managing Director apologised to Members regarding the delay in this matter coming back to Committee, which was due to other areas of work as a result of the pandemic.  However, the Managing Director assured Members that a report would be submitted to the next meeting to outline lessons learned from the BRC report and how we deal with decommissioning buildings in the future.

 

In terms of the question raised at the previous meeting regarding the planning application, the Corporate Director Regeneration & Community Services confirmed that an application for change of use had been approved had the site had been sold to Dragon Recycling, and they were currently undertaking refurbishment of the site to begin their recycling activities. 

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the Action Sheet be noted.

 

6.

Statement of Accounts 2016/17, 2017/18 & 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 419 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to report of the Chief Officer Resources.

 

The Chief Officer Resources presented the report, and pointed out that Items 6, 7, 8 & 9 on the agenda related to the Council’s accounts for 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.   Item No. 6 reported the Council’s statement of accounts covering all three years, with Items 7, 8 & 9 being Audit Wales reports, which included their opinion for each set of accounts.  The Chief Officer Resources suggested that Item Nos. 6, 7, 8 & 9 on the agenda be considered together.

 

She said Members would recall during September 2017 Audit Wales received correspondence raising concerns regarding the Council’s relationship with Silent Valley Waste Services.  An Audit Wales investigation has been ongoing and as a result the Auditor General has been unable to provide opinion on the Council’s accounts for the three years referred to.  Whilst Audit Wales continue to examine a number of matters relating to the Council’s historic relationship with Silent Valley, which they intend to report on in due course, they do not now consider any of the ongoing matters to be material to the Audit General’s opinion on the Council’s Financial Statements.  An audit opinion has therefore been provided, and the Statement of Accounts for the three years (2016/17, 2017/18 & 2018/19) have been presented to Committee for approval. 

 

The Chief Officer Resources reported that for 2016/17 and 2017/18 the Auditor General considered the pension contributions paid on behalf of the Chief Finance Officer and the Corporate Director for Environment & Regeneration for their roles as Directors on Silent Valley Waste Services appeared to be contrary to law, and considered that the Council should have disclosed the nature and impact of the additional pension contributions but failed to do so.  Further detail on this opinion was provided in the Audit Wales reports at Items 7 and 8, and explained that whilst the value of the transactions identified in the Accounts were relatively small, the assessment of materiality could also be affected by certain quality issues, such as legal and regulatory requirements as well as political sensitivity.  This was the case with Senior Officers’ Remuneration Note considered to be material to its nature rather than value, and as result materiality level of £1 has been applied.  Given this low level of materiality, Audit Wales expect this level of disclosure to be correct since it was publishing individuals’ remuneration and making this information publicly available.  As result of this, it was the Auditor General’s intention to issue a modified or qualified opinion on the Council’s financial statements for 2016/17 and 2017/18, and the 2018/19 opinion as unqualified.

 

The Chief Officer Resources said the Council had sought independent legal advice on this matter, and whilst it was accepted that there were procedural errors in the way in which employer pension contributions were administered, it was considered that these did not have the effect of rendering the payments contrary to law.

 

In addition to the above issue, the Audit Wales’ reports also highlighted the corrected and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

External Audit of 2016/17 Statement of Accounts – Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council pdf icon PDF 446 KB

To consider the report of Audit Wales.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor J. Hill declared an interest in this item.

 

Consideration was given to the report of Audit Wales.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

 

8.

External Audit of 2017/18 Statement of Accounts – Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council pdf icon PDF 446 KB

To consider the report of Audit Wales.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor J. Hill declared an interest in this item.

 

Consideration was given to the report of Audit Wales.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

 

9.

External Audit of 2018/19 Statement of Accounts – Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council pdf icon PDF 446 KB

To consider the report of Audit Wales.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor J. Hill declared an interest in this item.

 

Consideration was given to the report of Audit Wales.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

 

10.

Annual Governance Statement pdf icon PDF 496 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to report of the Chief Officer Resources.

 

The Audit and Risk Manager presented the Annual Governance Statement for 2019/20 which provided an assessment of the effectiveness of the Authority’s governance arrangements.

 

The Officer spoke to the report and highlighted points contained therein.

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the Annual Governance Statement be approved and adopted (Option 1).

 

11.

The Annual Report of The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 417 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to report of the Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance.

 

The Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance presented the report which informed Members of the Council’s performance with regard to complaints to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

 

The Officer went through the report and highlighted points contained therein.

 

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the Audit Committee note that the process for the monitoring of complaints was robust and the performance information provided reflected these practices (Option 1).

 

12.

WAO Action Plan update pdf icon PDF 445 KB

To consider the report of the Corporate Director Social Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to report of the Corporate Director of Social Services.

 

The Corporate Director of Social Services presented the report which updated Members on the formation of the Corporate Safeguarding Leads group and the developments in respect of the Welsh Audit Office (WAO) recommendations following their review of the arrangements of the corporate arrangements for the safeguarding of children.

 

The conclusion of the WAO review was that the Council had made limited progress in addressing previous recommendations and proposals for improvement, and safeguarding arrangements were not consistent enough to provide assurance across all areas.

 

The Corporate Director reported that as a direct result of the COVID 19 pandemic the Action Plan in response to the WAO recommendations has been amended to allow for the timescales for the completion of the actions to be extended.

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the WAO revised Action Plan timescale be approved (Option 1).

 

13.

Audit Wales Certificate of Compliance for the Audit of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Assessment of 2019-20 Performance pdf icon PDF 475 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Governance and Partnerships.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to report of the Head of Governance and Partnerships.

 

The Chief Officer Resources presented the Audit Wales Certificate of Compliance following the audit of the Council’s Assessment of 2019-20 Performance.

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the Audit Committee note the compliance certificate dated October 2020.