Agenda and draft minutes

Performance, Governance and Audit Committee - Thursday 19th January 2023 7.30 pm

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

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

Media

Items
No. Item

486.

Chairman's Notices

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed all present and took the Committee through some housekeeping arrangements. This included a request that late attendees speak with the Chairman at the earliest opportunity to ensure this is noted; that Officers presenting reports attend in person and, if not possible, seek approval for remote attendance and finally that going forwards future agenda will include Matters Arising from the minutes to afford the opportunity to monitor and track the progress of all actions requested at committee.

487.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor E L Stephens.

488.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 159 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Performance, Governance and Audit Committee held on 17 November 2022 (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

RESOLVEDthat the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 17 November 2022, be approved and confirmed.

489.

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).

Minutes:

There were none.

490.

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).

 

Should you wish to submit a question please complete the online form at: www.maldon.gov.uk/publicparticipation.

Minutes:

No requests had been received.

491.

Audit Progress Update pdf icon PDF 364 KB

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

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report from the Director of Resources that provided an update on the progress of both the external audit and the audit fees.

 

The Chairman introduced the report and deferred to the Director of Resources to present the detail. He advised that it was timely for an update to be presented to Committee and that this report addressed the status of the audit of accounts; audit fees and the future external auditors. Section 3 provided details of the challenges faced by the audit sector with only 9% of audits completed.

 

For 2021 despite the challenges Maldon District Council published their unaudited accounts by the deadline. Due to the pressures mentioned in the report the audit was ongoing with a view to completion of fieldwork by end of January with the intention to sign-off accounts planned for the end of March/April 2023. He drew Members’ attention to the impact on the bottom line of £10,000 following the correction identified and advised that given the audit was still ongoing figures remained provisional. For 2023/24 and the following 4 years of audits a national procurement exercise was undertaken with an increase in fees of 150% with the actual fees due to be announced in Autumn. Finally, he advised that Deloittes, the current auditors, were leaving the market and the new external auditors will be KPMG.

 

In response to issues raised the Director of Resources provided the following information:-

 

  • That the audit costs were linked to the work involved and this applied to all councils irrespective of size. The Council’s materiality will be lower but the audit work involved will be the same.

 

  • That review of the audit accounts would take place in February with a view to sign-off of the accounts towards the end of March beginning of April 2023.

 

  • That the Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) Ltd was a subsidiary of the LGA, a national procurement agency. Given the challenges in this area membership of a collective like the PSAA provided additional bargaining power.

 

  • That the Council has both internal and external auditors and discussions take place with counterparts in the region facing similar challenges.

 

  • That comments on the report format, namely Section 6 Implications, were welcomed and would be actioned going forwards

 

The Chairman then moved the recommendation in the report, seconded by Councillor Fleming and the Committee agreed it by assent.

 

RESOLVED  that members considered the report.

492.

Review of Corporate Performance - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 269 KB

To note the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance that required the Committee to undertake a quarterly review of the Thematic Strategies performance, as assurance that performance was being managed effectively to achieve the corporate outcomes as set out in the Council’s Corporate Plan 2021 - 2023.  Appendix 1 to the report provided an overview of performance as at the end of Quarter 2 (Q2) (July 2022 – October 2022). 

 

The Chairman introduced the report and deferred to the Programmes, Performance

and Governance Manager to present the detail. She took the Committee through the

report starting with section 3.1. which outlined the high level outcome view for each

strategic theme area together with section 3.2 that covered performance at risk for the individual Key Performance Indicator (KPI) level. 

 

It was noted that within Prosperity there were a number of red at risk areas, however, planned work such as the Covid Economic response, grant programmes, Covid Economic Recovery Transformation (CERT) Programme and forthcoming UK Shared Prosperity Fund Programme (UKSPF) would address business need. The Sense of Place Business Network had been disbanded and a new approach to Supporting Existing Local Businesses had been developed. This will include a Business e-newsletter along with social media and open invite business engagement events. These initiatives will be rolled out for Quarter 1 (Q1) 2023/24, with new performance measures and an update provided to Members.

 

It was envisioned that the Council’s UKSPF programme will yield significant results and that engagement with partners like Essex County Council (ECC) and the North Essex Economic Board (NEEB) had been very constructive. The primary workstream for the outcome of enabling investment and jobs centred on the creation of the Maldon District Investment Prospectus as outlined in the Corporate Plan. The prospectus for this Project was scheduled to launch in Quarter 4 (Q4).

 

The Chairman moved the recommendations in the report and then took the committee through Appendix 1.

 

In response to issues raised Officers provided the following information:-

 

  • That the revised pastel colour coding in the performance report was as a result of recent discussions to improve the reading experience for all customers.

 

  • That data on fly tipping costs, including investigation and enforcement costs, together with locations, would be circulated to Members outside of the meeting.

 

  • That the issue of how best to collate fixed penalty notices data would be investigated and reported to the Committee when available.

 

  • That the statistics around business satisfaction were from Quarter 1.The results from the recent business satisfaction survey were currently being analysed and once complete a full report will be circulated to all Members. It was hoped that given the direct business engagement this time round there would be a marked improvement in feedback which will inform revised satisfaction rates. That future reports will contain response rates.

 

493.

Review of Corporate Risk - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 234 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance that required the Committee to undertake a quarterly review of the Corporate Risk Register as assurance that the corporate risks were being managed effectively.  

 

The Chairman introduced the report and deferred to the Programmes, Performance and Governance Manager to present the detail. She advised that the report covered the corporate risk register from July 2022 – October 2022. As set out in section 3.3 of the covering report, there had been one risk where likelihood had increased,  R1 - Failure to safeguard children and vulnerable adults and two risks where likelihood had decreased R3 - Failure to target services/influence partners effectively to support identified housing needs of increasing aging population together with R29 - Failure to deliver services as a result of COVID-19.

 

Prior to opening the debate the Chairman invited other officers to comment. The Lead Specialist (Community) provided a short preamble on the area of Safeguarding. He advised that the safeguarding risk was raised but he wished to reassure the Committee that this was not as a result of any failures in case management but related to the Safeguarding Forum and low levels of attendance at meetings.  He reported that the designated safeguarding officers, due to pressures of workload, had not been able to attend regularly. Work was underway to create a smaller, more focussed forum and he would continue to monitor levels of attendance. 

 

The Chairman moved the recommendations and then took the Committee through both Appendix 1 and 2.

 

Councillor Stilts sought reassurance regarding the continuing status of R1- Failure to Safeguard Children and Vulnerable Adults- on the Risk Register and proposed that a review of this area by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee may be prudent. The Lead Specialist (Community), in response, said that robust policies were in place however, he welcomed a review of this area given its importance. The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance added that due to the high priority that this area of work attained within the organisation it would continue to be monitored through the risk register. This was corroborated by the Director of Service Delivery who reassured the Committee that there were adequate staff levels to carry out this work from across the organisation as safeguarding was part of everyone’s remit.

 

Councillor Stilts proposed that the Safeguarding of Children and Vulnerable Adults be referred to Overview & Scrutiny Committee for review to ensure that the Council was supporting this area of work appropriately together with the Officers undertaking the actual work. This was duly seconded and agreed by assent to be added as a recommendation. In response to an issue raised around risk assessment the Director of Service Delivery said Officers would undertake a review of the methodology in use.

 

There being no further discussion the Chairman put the already seconded recommendations, to include Councillor Stilts proposal, to the Committee and they were agreed by assent.

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)               That Members reviewed the Corporate Risk Register  ...  view the full minutes text for item 493.

494.

Annual Governance Actions Update pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance that updated Members on the actions identified in the 2022/2023 Annual Governance Statement.

 

The Chairman introduced the report and deferred to the Programmes, Performance and Governance Manager to present the detail. She advised that since the revised format in 2020, each year the annual governance statement reflected on the Council’s governance arrangements, and identified further best practice improvements that can introduced for the following year. The table at 3.5 of the report contained the full list of identified actions in the 2021/22 report. Those highlighted in grey had previously been reported complete and a further action around staff process improvement training had moved to completion in this reporting schedule. Commentary updates were also provided for the open actions.

 

The Chairman moved the recommendations in the report and opened the debate. A brief exchange took place on the merits of face-to-face meetings where there might be opposing views.

 

There being no further issues the chairman put the recommendation to the committee and it was agreed by assent.

 

RESOLVED that the Committee reviewed the Annual Governance Statements table

together with updates and challenged where necessary.

495.

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

Minutes:

There were none. The Chairman thanked all for their contributions and closed the meeting.