Venue: Council Chamber, The Cube, George St, Corby NN17 1QG
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Apologies for non-attendance
Members' Declarations of Interests
The chair asked members to declare any interests on items present on the agenda.
No declarations were registered.
It was confirmed to members that an Audit and Governance action plan would be drafted in consultation with the Chief Internal Auditor.
RESOLVED That the minutes of the meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee held on 14th August 2023 be approved as a correct record and signed by the chair
Members received a report which sought approval for the draft Statement of Accounts in relation to Corby Borough Council for 2020/21. The accounts had been updated for the audit recommendations and were awaiting sign off following the conclusion of the work by the Council’s external auditors. This was expected to be completed by the end of September.
It was also recommended that any non-material adjustments required to the draft Statement of Accounts in relation to the Corby Borough Council were delegated to the Council’s Executive Director of Finance and Performance (s151 Officer), in consultation with the Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee.
Members heard that had been numerous adjustments throughout the process, but these had not mataerially impacted the general fund reserves. It was noted that from prior years there had been adjustments that had gone through that had an impact on general fund reserves that account for approximately £510,000. Members noted that a majority of those adjustments were in relation to timing issues that had occurred due to the nature of the accounts being open for so long. Adjustments that were not expected to be made were concluded where debts were no longer collectible and therefore had been written off in the accounts for 2021.
Following debate it was
RESOLVED A) That the Audit & Governance Committee approve the draft Statement of Accounts for the financial year 2020/21 for Corby Borough Council subject to the conclusion of the audit and that there are no material adjustments that impact on the Council’s usable reserves.
B) Any non-material adjustments required to the draft Statement of Accounts in relation to the Corby Borough Council be delegated to the Council’s Executive Director of Finance and Performance (s151 Officer), in consultation with the Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee.
Members received a report which sought to present the Audit Results Report in relation to the Statement of Accounts for Corby Borough Council for 2020/21 to those charged with Governance. It was noted that the report had been prepared by the Council’s External Auditor (EY), and sought Audit and Governance Committee approval to agree that the approval of the Council’s draft Management Representation Letter be delegated to the Executive Director of Finance (s151) in consultation with the Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee.
Members received the final report with regards to the audit results and it was noted that all field work had concluded. Members heard that the external auditor was glad to present the result of an unqualified audit report for Corby Borough Council. Thanks were provided to officers for their positive cooperation in the audit process.
Questions were raised by members in relation to scale fees and sought clarification regarding what the impact would be for the council. It was noted that the overrun was going to be significant, and the final amount was still to be finalised. Members heard that mechanisms were in place through the Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) in dealing with overspends and overruns.
Members then heard that in relation to audit appointments for the next five-year period that would run from 2023 to 2027/28 audits there was a consultation underway in relation to scale fees to start being applied from 2023/24. Feedback from the consultation was due to be submitted by 10th October 2023 and the council was anticipating confirmation for the final scale fee by the end of November 2023. Feedback received so far anticipate that the scale fee for North Northamptonshire Council was based on the standard fee of £300,442 which is then uplifted by 141% to provide a scale fee of £754,109 for 2023/24.
Following debate it was:
b) The Committee delegate any adjustments to the draft Management Representation Letter to the Councils Executive Director of Finance (s151 Officer), in consultation with the Chair of the Audit & Governance Committee.
Members received a report which was presented by representatives of Northamptonshire Children’s Trust. The report sought to provide a brief overview of risk management, assurance, governance and reporting arrangements for Northamptonshire Children’s Trust (NCT).
The report recommended that members note the report of Northamptonshire Children’s Trust which sets out the governance and reporting arrangements for the Trust and also to note the Internal Audit Report and Opinion for 2022/23 for Northamptonshire Children’s Trust.
Members heard that there were several committees that were set aside to deal with matters of the NCT and these included The NCT Board, Practice, Performance and Quality committee (PPQ). Finance, Resources committee and Audit committee. It was noted that the Audit committee met ~every 12 weeks and the finance and resources committee met every six weeks. The Audit Committee was attended by the Chief Internal Auditor from West Northamptonshire Council and supplemented with an invitation to the Chief Internal Auditor for North Northamptonshire Council.
It was also noted by members that NCT maintained a Strategic Risk Register where the fundamental risks were recorded and reviewed. It was noted that there were 23 risks currently open which are regularly reported to the Committee as well as the PPQ committee and operational group with the councils. As part of the 2023/24 audit approach, a risk workshop was held with the Chief Internal Auditor and the NCT board to develop the programme for 2023/24.
There was also a number of statutory inspections that were undertaken as part of the governance arrangements and also the Social Care Improvement Board which monitored the Social Care Improvement Plan that was chaired by the Department for Education (DfE).
Members heard that in relation to work undertaken for Internal Audit 2022/23 that it had been a challenging year and that the Finance, Resources and Risk Committee had expressed their disappointment and concern over the amount of audit activity that had been undertaken.
In relation to the audit log it was noted that there was two remaining audits outstanding that related to Corporate Governance Framework and the Fostering Service. The draft Corporate Governance Framework internal audit had now been received and was a good audit result with minor findings. The Fostering Service in-house was in the last stages of finalisation which would then conclude the 2022/23 audit approach to supplement the audit opinion that had been given.
Members sought to clarify the total number of children that were in care across Northamptonshire and sought to confirm if this number could be split between North and West Northamptonshire. It was noted that across Northamptonshire there was 1,162 children in care and that at any one time there was approximately 7,000 open cases including children on a child protection plan and children on a child in need plan. Additionally, it was noted that there were 3,000-4,000 families being worked with through the targeted early help and support. A performance report was being drafted which would focus on both the North and West Northamptonshire areas which had been ... view the full minutes text for item 133.
Members received a report that sought to provide the committee with a progress update on the work of the Internal Audit team and the key findings from audits completed to date.
The Chief Internal Auditor stated since the last meeting of The Audit & Governance Committee, six audit reports have been finalised and the key findings were presented to members. It was noted that during the 2023/24 financial year to date, 30% of the planned audits had been delivered to at least draft report stages and a further 32% was in fieldwork stages. This reflected that delivery is on track for this stage in the year.
One summarised report was in relation to Information Governance (Data Retention and Subject Access Requests). Overall, a good level of assurance was given with regards to compliance. It was noted that in relation to controls the data retention schedule was scrutinised and although schedules are in place recommendations were made to review and update which would be present as part of the action plan following the internal audit. Members heard that overall a moderate assurance opinion was given over the control environment based on the need to update some data retention schedules in addition to outstanding actions from the last audit.
Members heard that another progress report was provided for cyber security which in effect is a rolling piece of work on cyber security. This internal audit focused on training and awareness. Overall, a moderate assurance opinion was given including a number of areas for further development which will be taken forward as part of the action plan.
The next update in relation to internal audit was for the management of capital projects and the project management framework. A number of areas of good practise were highlighted alongside the need for a fully developed project management framework that is consistently applied for each of the council’s projects. A number of recommendations had been made to support the development. Overall, a moderate assurance opinion was given including a number of recommendations as part of the action plan for this internal audit.
Members then received an update in relation to right to buy applications audit. It was noted that the main finding of the audit was that the council was able to evidence some significant improvement in the control environment. Overall, a moderate level of assurance over compliance and control was given.
An update was also provided in relation to a piece of consultancy work undertaken by internal audit in relation to housing repairs. It was heard that internal audit had consulted with officers regarding the levels of controls expected to be exercised over a store’s facility and to ensure that those types of physical security controls and separation of duties were in place. Several recommendations were made and may be bought before the committee as part of next year’s audit plan.
The final internal audit was provided to members in relation to government procurement cards. It was noted that this internal audit had received limited assurances ... view the full minutes text for item 134.
Close of Meeting