To consider the report of the Director of Resources (copy enclosed).
The Committee considered the report of the Director of Resources and associated appendices that covered three reports from the Internal Auditors BDO LLP, the Internal Audit Progress Report - July 2020, the Community Safety Audit – July 2020 and the Workforce Management Audit – March 2020.
The Chairman introduced the reports and deferred to the Internal Auditor, Greg Rubins, to present them to the Committee. Addressing the Progress Report the Internal Auditor advised that the main progress had been making up lost ground on areas delayed by the impact of COVID-19. It was noted that the Corporate Governance Audit would be presented at the next Committee in September and that scoping work on the Flood Risk Management Audit was imminent. He concluded by saying that a number of other audits for 2020/21 were in outline stage and agreed changes to the audit plan, including follow-up from the Fraud Risk Assessment and work against the CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy) Code of Practice and Financial Management, were underway.
In response to questions and suggestions Officers reported the following:-
The Internal Audit Manager, Ms Donnelly, then took the Committee through the Community Safety Audit. She reported that a comprehensive strategic community safety assessment had been undertaken with all strategic partners involved that identified 5 priorities for 2019/20. Each priority had an action plan, owners and timelines for completion. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee, meeting as Crime & Disorder reviewed progress, with support provided by a monthly task force. It was noted that key roles and responsibilities for community safety were in place, including a Community Safety Manager with oversight of partnership work across two councils, namely Maldon District Council and Chelmsford Council.
The level of assurance on this audit was moderate on design and moderate on effectiveness. She advised that improvement could be made around more regular monitoring of finances through the Responsible Authority Group (RAG) in conjunction with Overview & Scrutiny Committee, together with assurance that the action plans were maintained up-to-date.
The Chairman then invited the Community Safety Manager to address the Committee. He acknowledged that the RAG had been unable to meet in accordance with its Terms of Reference for various reasons, including:- the impact of the Council’s restructure, COVID-19 and the departure of the Chairman. A meeting was now scheduled for 8 September and recommendations would be reported to Overview & Scrutiny (C&D) in October 2020.
In response to issues raised he reassured Members that whilst the RAG had not met regularly Members had been able to scrutinise the work of the Community Safety partnership at Overview & Scrutiny (C&D) Committee and that to provide more transparency he would include the Maldon District Events budget in reports to Committee going forward. Furthermore, an annual report on spend was submitted to the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) for review. Following the RAG meeting on 8 September the group would continue to meet on a quarterly basis. He concluded by saying that he would raise the issues of police station advisory signage (Wants Rd./Warwick Crescent) and the location of the emergency telephone in the Council Offices with the Chief Inspector, Steve Scott-Haines.
The Internal Audit Manager then took the Committee through the Workforce Management Audit. She reported that the level of assurance was substantial on design and moderate on effectiveness. This audit focused on recruitment process and procedures which were found to be strong, underpinned by a checklist for all parts of the process. The Workforce Development strategy in place reflected the corporate priorities and all human resource staff were appropriately trained and suitably qualified. She recommended that a HR KPI Dashboard be developed, together with ensuring an up-to-date record of all applicant qualifications.
The Chairman thanked the Internal Audit Manager for the report and called on the Resources Specialist Services Manager to comment further. She informed the Committee that a process was already in place to ensure applicant qualification records were up-to-date going forward and that work on KPIs was underway. In response to queries raised she said that gaps in qualification records were as a result of testing candidates’ skills in different ways and that a KPI would be developed, informed by relevant feedback from the staff survey, to track issues around staff wellbeing and engagement.
The Chairman moved the recommendations in the report, seconded by Councillor Channer. The Chairman then put the recommendations to the Committee and they were agreed.
RESOLVED that the Committee considered, commented and approved the:
(i) Internal Audit Progress Report - July 2020 at appendix 1;
(ii) Community Safety Audit - July 2020 at appendix 2;and
(iii) Workforce Management Audit – March 2020 at appendix 3.