Agenda and minutes

Venue: Norfolk Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham

Contact: Committee Services  01362 656870

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes (Agenda item 1) pdf icon PDF 89 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 25 November 2011.

Minutes:

a)           Estimates 2012/13 – Revenue Budget & Efficiency Requirements (Minute No. 66/10)

 

Mr Ludlow asked for some wording to be changed relating to a comment he had made about pensions, to read: “…..be considered as a virtual variance, being predominately a change in treatment and presentation rather than a major change in the absolute figure”.

 

b)           Minutes

 

Subject to the above change, the Minutes of the meeting held on 25 November 2011 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

2.

Apologies (Agenda item 2)

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

None.

3.

Non-members wishing to address the meeting (Agenda item 5)

To note the names of any non-members wishing to address the meeting.

Minutes:

Mr P. Duigan, Mr M. Kiddle-Morris and Mr A. Stasiak.

 

4.

REV Active Project Risk Monitoring Report (for information) (Agenda item 6) pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Kiddle-Morris introduced the report.

 

Both the Economic Development Manager and the Funding Support Officer were in attendance to answer questions.

 

REV ACTIVE was a project that was being managed by Breckland Council to support regeneration and economic growth predominately along the A11 corridor as part of its REV programme.  It had ERDF backing in the East of England, matched with some public sector support and private sector investment.

 

The Audit Committee, responsible for monitoring risk for the Council had asked for the REV ACTIVE Risk Management report to be brought back for discussion.

 

Mr Ludlow asked for the meaning of REFs.  In response, Members were informed that REFs was short for Resource Efficiency Facilitators; these were the people who carried out the surveys.

 

In response to a further question, in relation to total costs and how the project was funded, the Committee was informed that all costs were charged to the project.  To date, approximately £20k of income had been paid into the Economic Development’s Portfolio which offset its budget.

 

Mr Kybird mentioned the presentation shown at a previous meeting which had indicated that the project was ahead of target take up and asked if this was still the case.  Mr Kiddle-Morris was pleased to report that the take up for the REV ACTIVE project had exceeded expectations and was classed as a great success; so much so that talks were being had with other districts. 

 

In relation to savings, Lady K Fisher asked if Breckland Council had implemented this scheme on its own two buildings.  The Economic Development Manager advised that Steve Udberg, the Council’s Asset & Property Manager had been looking into this and savings had been quantified.

 

It was noted that all savings were recorded.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)           the current internal and external REV ACTIVE monitoring and oversight regime as set out in the report be endorsed; and

 

2)           annual updates be reported to the Audit Committee over the life of the project.

 

5.

Annual Audit Letter 2010/11 (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 652 KB

Rob Murray, District Auditor, Audit Commission.

Minutes:

Mr Rob Murray presented the Audit Commission’s Annual Audit Letter to Breckland Council for the year 2010-11.  His associate, Ms Emma Patchett was also in attendance for this item.

 

The Annual Audit Letter was also available to view on the Commission’s website www.audit-commission.gov.uk.

 

The two primary findings from the 2010/11 audit work related to Financial Statements and Value for Money and unqualified opinions had been issued in both cases, meaning that that Auditor had agreed that documentation and working papers supporting the financial accounts had been of a good standard, as they had consistently been in previous years and proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of resources were in place.

 

The economic downturn and pressure on the public sector, the Localism Bill and the Welfare Reform were just some of the current and future challenges that authorities were having to face.  All had been highlighted in the report.

 

In response to a request, an explanation was provided with regard to the red, amber and green traffic light system.  

 

The Annual Audit Letter 2010/11 was otherwise noted.

 

6.

Quarter 3 Governance Report Risks (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 247 KB

Report of the Assistant Director of Democratic Services.

Minutes:

The Governance & Performance Accountant presented the quarterly Risk report for Quarter 3 2011/12.

 

There had been a number of new risks identified during the quarter which could be seen from pages 49 to 53.

 

Members’ attention was drawn to Risk R-H 007 in relation to Housing which had increased from 4 to 6 as a result of major restructure changes within key partners.  This had had a detrimental effect on the supply of affordable housing, reducing the ability of the authority to meet housing need.

 

The Asset Management risk score on page 55 of the agenda had decreased from a 6 to a 4 due to maintenance plans being agreed with Norfolk County Council over a five year period at the dual use leisure facilities.

 

Pages 57 to 62 of the agenda covered the risks that were rated as “outside the Council’s agreed tolerance level” for risk.  These risks would be reviewed regularly via the performance management framework to ensure that they were managed effectively.

 

Mr Ludlow asked if risks for the Council’s own suppliers were measured.  He had concerns about the number of businesses that were failing in the light of the current economic climate and asked if there were any assurances in place from these key suppliers.

 

The Governance & Performance Accountant advised that these businesses were monitored on a quarterly basis.  The Assistant Director of Finance pointed out that all the Council’s suppliers had to go through a financial health check and contracts were periodically reviewed.

 

Lady Kay Fisher asked if the Council’s commercial property investments were holding fairly constant.  There was some discussion about the difference in percentages terms in relation to square footage and income received. Mr Jermy thought it would be useful to find out the reduction in income with regard to any vacant properties.

 

Mr Kiddle-Morris explained that, overall, the income generated from commercial properties had decreased over the last six months although there were many still being leased.  The Chairman felt that there should be a report on income as well; the Committee would then have a complete picture.  Members were informed that there was not a target on values only on lets.  The Assistant Director of Finance assured the Committee that there was a budget that was monitored for rental income which was seen as a pressure and was reported as one of the variances in the budget.  In response to a further question, it was explained that Breckland Council had a mix of tenants from various business sectors and all had been credit checked.  Mr Kiddle-Morris pointed out that Asset Management was mitigating the risk of properties becoming vacant by working proactively with property agents and focusing its resources accordingly.

 

 

Referring to page 59 of the agenda, Mr Stevens asked what the financial impact would be on the General Reserve Fund from the Breckland Leisure Centre.  The Governance & Performance Accountant was unsure of the figure but assured Members that he would investigate and report back at the next meeting.

 

Mr Jermy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Risk Management Policy and Risk Management Process Guide (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Report of the Assistant Director of Democratic Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Governance & Performance Accountant gave Members a flavour of how the Risk Management Policy and Risk Management Guide would work across both Councils.

 

The approach would not be too different from what had been in place previously and to ensure that a uniform approach to risk management existed certain parts had been picked up from each Council’s current policies.

 

The new Risk Management Policy reflected best practice in risk management and included a step by step Risk Management Process Guide for both Members and Officers.

 

The Anglia Revenues Partnership followed the principles of this policy; Appendix A reflected the fact that ARP used a different risk assessment matrix (5 x 5) which had been agreed by the Partnership’s Joint Committee.

 

Mr Ludlow drew Members’ attention to page 73 of the agenda and asked if there was a definition of good operational risk management for performance.  The Governance & Performance Accountant stated that the definition was rather vague but would be reviewed.

 

Referring to page 84 of the report, in relation to how to avoid or reduce the threat of risk, Lady K Fisher asked how the Council would feedback on opportunities.  The Governance & Performance Accountant pointed out that there would be a training programme for Officer and Members alongside this Policy. Typically, risks received as negative through the training programme would raise awareness of how the Council managed opportunities.  

 

RECOMMEND to Cabinet that the Risk Management Policy and Risk Management Process Guide be adopted.

 

8.

Internal Audit Terms of Reference, Code of Ethics, Audit Strategy, Strategic and Annual Audit Plans and Summary of Internal Audit Coverage for 2012/13 (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 88 KB

Report of the Head of Internal Audit.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Internal Audit presented the report.

 

The report explained the statutory requirements and standards for providing an Internal Audit Service and set out the proposed Terms of Reference, Performance Indicators, Code of Ethics and Strategic and Annual plans for the service in relation to 2012/13.

 

Section 3 of the Terms of Reference had been revised to be more explicit about how Internal Audit will liaise with other Internal Audit Service providers whose organisation are involved in shared management and/or shared service arrangements with Breckland Council.  Referring to the Terms of Reference and paragraph 3.11 of the report, Mr Kybird asked the meaning of a “Hold Harmless” letter.  In response, the Head of Internal Audit explained Hold Harmless letters were used to allow the contents of final audit report produced by the Deloitte auditors on behalf of Breckland Council to be shared with other councils/organisations.  The other organisations may chose to place reliance on the work performed but on the understanding that Deloitte would not be accountable to them for the work done, only to Breckland Council that commissioned the audit in the first place.

 

A number of grammatical and numerical errors within the report were highlighted.

 

  • On page 99, in paragraph 8.5 of the report a misspelling was noted with reference to job budgets.
  • At page 107, in paragraph 1.2, the Terms of Reference presented on 3/2/12 related to 2012/13 and not 2011/12 as stated.
  • With reference to the Strategic Audit Plan, the job budget for Culture and Leisure in 2011/12 had been revised to 13 days and this in turn required the total days per annum for systems audit in 2011/12 to be amended to 158.5 (bottom of page 115) and total days per annum for 2011/12 to be updated to 203.5 (bottom of page 116).
  • Two further changes were also required to the Strategic Audit Plan – the correction of a misspelling of St Edmundsbury and the addition of the word ‘High’ in the column headed ‘Assessed audit risk’ against Accountancy Services on page 112.

 

On page 116, the Head of Internal Audit drew Members’ attention to the fact that a provision had been made for computer audit coverage going forward; this had yet to be fully allocated to individual reviews.  However, as soon as a new Computer Audit Needs Assessment had been completed in Quarter 1 of 2012/13, the Committee would be updated as to projects identified for delivery thereafter.  

 

Referring to those audits assessed as ‘very high’ risks on page 117 of the Annual Audit Plan under the heading Fundamental Financial Systems, the Head of Internal Audit explained that these were being covered by St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

 

In response to a concern about how agreed audit recommendation were being monitored, it was explained that there was a process in place to verify the status of agreed audit recommendations at six monthly intervals with the outcomes of this reflected in update reports to the Committee.

 

RESOLVED that subject to a number of minor amendments  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2012/13 (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 167 KB

Report of the Assistant Director of Finance.

Minutes:

Due to the actual covering report and various documentation being inadvertently omitted from the agenda, the Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2012/13 was postponed until the next meeting.

 

10.

Work Programme (Agenda item 12) pdf icon PDF 54 KB

A copy of the Committee’s work programme is attached.  The Committee is asked to consider whether any additions, deletions or amendments to the programme are required.

Minutes:

Members were asked to note that there would be a meeting held on 23 March 2012.  There would also be two meetings held in June and the agenda items already included on the work programme for the 15th June would be split between the two.

 

It was agreed that the following items would be added to the work programme in March:

 

  • Treasury Management Policy and Strategy

 

It was further agreed that:

 

  • the REV ACTIVE Project Risk Monitoring report be removed from the work programme in March and added to a meeting at the beginning of 2013 as agreed;

 

  • the Draft Statement of Accounts be moved to the 29th June meeting;

 

Further amendments/additions would be made to the Work Programme in due course.

11.

Next Meeting (Agenda item 13)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 15 June 2012 at 10.00am in the Norfolk Room.

Minutes:

Arrangements for the next meeting on 23 March 2012 were noted.