Agenda and draft minutes

Performance, Governance and Audit Committee - Thursday 29th July 2021 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Maldon District Council Offices, Princes Road, Maldon. View directions

Contact: Committee Services  Email: committee.clerk@maldon.gov.uk

Note: You need to register to attend this meeting – please see link under Media section below. 

Media

Items
No. Item

181.

Chairman's Notices

Minutes:

The Chairmanwelcomed all presentandtookthe Committeethrough somehousekeeping arrangements forthe meeting.

 

182.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors R G Boyce and K W Jarvis.

183.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 211 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 10 June 2021, (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

RESOLVED by assent that the Minutes of themeeting of theCommitteeheld on 25March2021 be approved and confirmed.

 

184.

Disclosure of Interest

To disclose the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, other Pecuniary Interest or Non-Pecuniary Interests relating to items of business on the agenda having regard to paragraphs 6 – 8 of the Code of Conduct for Members.

 

(Members are reminded that they are also required to disclose any such interest as soon as they become aware should the need arise through the meeting).

Minutes:

CouncillorJ L Fleming declared a non-pecuniary interest as a Member ofEssexCounty Council in relation toany items on theagenda pertaining to thatorganisation.

185.

Public Participation

To receive the views of members of the public, of which prior notification in writing has been received (no later than noon on the Tuesday prior to the day of the meeting).

 

Shouldyou wish to submita question pleasecompletetheonlineform.

 

Minutes:

No requests had been received.

186.

Internal Audit Reports:- Progress Report; Affordable Housing & Housing Need Audit; Knowledge Management Audit and Follow-up of Recommendations Report pdf icon PDF 215 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Resources and associated appendices, (copies enclosed):-

 

Appendix 1 – Progress Report

 

Appendix 2 – Affordable Housing & Housing Need Audit

 

Appendix 3 – Knowledge Management Audit

 

Appendix 4 – Follow-up of Recommendations Report

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

 

 

TheCommitteeconsidered thereport ofthe Director ofResourcesandassociated appendices that covered four reportsfrom theInternal AuditorsBDOLLPnamely, theProgressReport; Affordable Housing & Housing Needs Audit, Knowledge Management Audit and the Follow-up of RecommendationsReport.

 

TheChairmanintroduced thereportsand deferred to theInternal Audit Partnerto presentthe detail.  He tookthe Committeethroughthe four reports in turn, starting with the ProgressReport.  He advised that the Fraud Risk Audit would be submitted to the next meeting, that a number of areas in the work plan for 2021/22 were now underway and that the Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy Audit had been moved to 2022/23. This was to allow for development of new sustainability strategies and plans to be completed before undertaking an Audit, thus ensuring a meaningful exercise.

 

Addressing the Housing Needs and Affordable Housing Audit he reported the key findings. The level of assurance was moderate on both design and effectiveness  with good processes in place for putting together a strategy and identifying housing needs.  Following a slow start, due to fewer schemes online at the introduction of affordable housing targets, the Council had since exceeded its target in 2018/19 and 2021/22.  There was still work to be done to ensure the Council met its target year on year, the Housing Service Business Plan should be finalised and disseminated to all staff and a strategy put in place to manage S106 spend.  It was noted that overall the response from Officers was positive and that COVID 19 had adversely impacted delivery rates in some areas.

 

The level of assurance on the Knowledge Management Audit was moderate in both design and effectiveness.  The key findings included good processes in place in terms of identifying and documenting efficiencies and ensuring staff engagement. The next steps should include robust documentation of the prioritisation process and updating the Business Continuity Plan, in particular updating the lead officers.

 

With reference to the Follow-up of Recommendations report it was noted that three recommendations had been signed off and two were still overdue since the last iteration of the report.  The overdue recommendations were Building Control and Flooding Risk Management.  The Committee was reassured that since the resource issue had been resolved the Building Control work was underway with a revised completion date of September 2021.  The Flooding Risk Management recommendation had a revised completion date of December 2021.

 

At this point the Chairman moved the recommendations in the report and these were seconded by Councillor Nunn.  The Chairman then opened the debate.

 

In response to questions Officers provided the following information:

 

  • That whilst the Council had exceeded its affordable housing targets in both 2018/19 and 2021/22 these were not consecutive years. The aim must be to consistently meet targets in each year of the Housing Strategy period. It was clarified that the Management Response was available on page 29 of the meeting pack.

 

187.

Internal Audit - Annual Report and Statement of Assurance 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 125 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Resources, (copy enclosed).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

TheCommitteeconsidered thereport ofthe Director ofResources together with the Internal Audit – Annual Statement of Assurance 2020/21 from BDOLLP attached at Appendix 1.

 

The Chairman deferred to the Internal Audit Partner to present the detail.  He reported that the level of assurance of moderate was their second highest level of assurance on governance risk and control.  On the whole he felt that looking at the individual opinions there was an improvement on last year with no limited opinions.  This was a very positive conclusion despite the constraints of Covid and the pressures on staff.  Given there were still some issues to address the Committee’s attention was drawn to the ‘Themes’ section within the report where areas the Council might benefit focussing on had been summarised. It was acknowledged that there were ongoing challenges due to Covid, but overall plan delivery was on track. 

 

The Chairman them moved the recommendation and this was seconded by Councillor Nunn.

 

In response to a query regarding the issue of limited opinion reports the Internal Audit Manager clarified there had been no limited opinion reports issued for this year ending 31 March 2021, however, as outlined in the report, one had been issued for 2019/20.

 

There being no further queries the Chairman put the duly seconded recommendation to the committee and it was agreed by assent.

 

RESOLVED by assent that theCommittee considered, commented and approved the       Internal AuditAnnual Report and Annual StatementofAssurance2020/21 at appendix 1.

 

 

188.

External Audit - Audit Planning Report to 31 March 2021 pdf icon PDF 111 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Resources, (copy enclosed).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

 

 

 

TheCommitteeconsidered thereport ofthe Director ofResourcestogether with the External Audit Planning report to March 2021 fromDeloitte LLP, the Council’sExternal Auditor attached at Appendix 1.

 

TheChairmanintroduced the report and deferredto theAuditPartner from Deloitte LLP to present thedetail. The Audit Partner commenced by reminding Members that the work he carried out was in accordance with the Code of Audit Practice and supporting regulations which were published by the National Audit Office (NAO).  The scope of the work included the audit of the accounts along with being satisfied that the Council had made proper arrangements for securing Value For Money (VFM).  There had been significant changes to the code with respect to VFM which were set out in detail in the report.  The materiality level used had been set on a consistent basis as in previous years and all areas over £60,000 were reported.  He said that the pandemic had continued to impact the audit in terms of the risk profile as well as the way it was conducted and this was also detailed in the report.

 

There were two significant risks focussed on this year, the first was management override of controls, areas focussed on were preparation of accounting estimates, looking at inappropriate journal entries and transactions with no economic substance. The second was the recognition of Covid – 19 related income.  There were a number of new grants with significant value that were accounted for in different ways. Additional areas of focus included pension liability and the valuation of property, plant and equipment..

 

The Chairman then moved the recommendation and this was seconded by Councillor Nunn.

 

In response to questions Officers provided the following information:

 

  • That the pension scheme was administered by Essex County Council (ECC) and the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) made the investment decisions. However, pension figures provided by ECC to Maldon District Council were impacted by those LGPS decisions. It was therefore imperative that the figures were audited to ensure they were correct as they constituted a large net liability on the Council’s balance sheet..

 

  • That in respect of the External Auditor’s fees a number of discussions had taken place with the External Auditors and a briefing note circulated to all Members of the Committee. The scale fees were set some years back subject to fee variations and due to the nature and increases in audit requirements which had been substantial, those scale fees had seen a lot of increase. The current fees had been reduced through initial discussions. Once the Audit had been  concluded the Auditor would submit the fees to the Public Sector Audit Appointments Limited (PSAA) who will review and give judgement on those. They will also liaise with the Council so we can put our views across. The PSAA benchmark across all local authorities’ audits but the actual fee will not be agreed until the audit has been completed.. The Briefing Note will be re-circulated.

 

189.

Any other items of business that the Chairman of the Committee decides are urgent

Minutes:

There were none and the Chairman thanked all in attendance for their contributions prior to closing the meeting.