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The Chairman for the meeting, Councillor Mrs J L Fleming, welcomed all present and took the Committee through some housekeeping arrangements.
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors N J Skeens and W Stamp, CC.
To confirm the Minutes of the Performance, Governance and Audit Committee held on 29 September 2022 (copy enclosed).
RESOLVED by assent that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 29 September 2022, be approved and confirmed.
Disclosure of Interest
To disclose the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, Other Registrable interests and Non-Registrable Interests relating to items of business on the agenda having regard to paragraph 9 and Appendix B of the Code of Conduct for Members.
(Members are reminded that they are also required to disclose any such interests as soon as they become aware should the need arise throughout the meeting).
There were none.
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).
Should you wish to submit a question please complete the online form at: www.maldon.gov.uk/publicparticipation.
No requests had been received.
To consider the report of the Director of Resources and associated reports from BDO LLP the Council’s Internal Auditors at 6a to 6d on the agenda (copies enclosed).
The Committeeconsidered thereport ofthe Director ofResourcesandassociated Internal Audit reports from BDO LLP, attached on the agenda at 6a to 6d, Progress Report; Follow-up of Recommendations; Commercialisation and Flood Management Report. The Chairman introduced the reports and deferred to the Internal Audit Partner to present the detail.
He advised the Committee that he would introduce the four reports take questions after each one. It was noted that the Progress report at 6a covered the two reports on the agenda and that there were a further two in draft Safeguarding and Contract Management awaiting final management responses which will be considered at the next meeting. There was a slight change to the workplan in that Climate Change and Sustainability was deferred to next year’s plan to give time for the strategy to be embedded, with Cyber Security brought forward from next year, given the recent focus on that area. He then took the Committee through the Follow-up of Recommendations report at 6b noting that seven recommendations were now complete, the overdue recommendations, relating to the management of property audit, were as a result of a delay in implementing the new property management system which will collate the data required.
The Commercialisation Audit at 6c was positive attaining substantial on design and moderate on effectiveness of controls. The Council had good practice in place, a clear commercial strategy together with sound governance arrangements. There had been some inconsistencies in project processes, however these related to older projects and improvements had been introduced since to rectify the situation.
There was a brief discussion on the importance of both scrutiny and a robust risk register in respect of commercialisation projects, together with a wider attendance or higher membership on the Corporate Projects Working Group. Both Councillor Channer and the Chairman advised that discussions were taking place around substitutions on working groups which would ensure appropriate levels of attendance and support for Officers in progressing key projects.
The Head of Internal Audit then presented his final report Flood Management at 6d which had attained moderate on both design and effectiveness of controls. Two notable improvements were around governance arrangements and the development of a Strategic Flood Action Plan. There were still some issues to be addressed e.g. training; the lack of engagement with Anglian Water and a drainage system strategy. It was acknowledged that the key issue, that of engagement from Anglian Water, was difficult for Officers to resolve, however, there had been improvement all round.
There being no further queries the Chairman moved the recommendations, they were duly seconded and the Committee agreed them by assent.
RESOLVED that the Committee considered, commented and approved the
(i) Internal Audit Progress Report – July 2022 at 6a;
(ii) Follow-up of Recommendations Report – July 2022 - 6b;
(iii) Commercialisation Report– May 2022 – 6c;
(iv) Flood Management Report - 2021/2022 – 6d.
Any other items of business that the Chairman of the Committee decides are urgent
In response to a query around the lack of External Audit reporting from Deloitte, LLP and issues related to the last external audit, the Director of Resources provided the following information:-
· That an External Audit Update report was scheduled for the next meeting of the Committee.
· That nationally Local Authorities had experienced significant delays with audits. The situation was improving with auditors increasing resources and updating timeframes resulting in better progress in recent months.
· That the pressures around the audit market nationally were due partly to resourcing issues and partly to changes in audit regulations and requirements e.g. Value for Money (VFM).
· That the audit fee charges won’t be agreed until the audit is complete. Fees will then be submitted to the Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) the body that determines and agrees fees independently between the auditors and the Council. This body has ultimate sign-off. That a clearer picture will emerge in the next couple of months as the auditors complete the accounts for the past two years.
· That the Council had met the timeline for publication of the accounts online.
· That additional work had already been reported on aspects of re-classification e.g. Covid Grants which had to be removed from the Income and Expenditure Account and reclassified within the Balance Sheet.
· That there was no impact on the bottom line, mainly a re-classification in the accounts and all changes will be reported in the Audit Update report at the next Committee.