Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Committee Services  01362 656870

Items
No. Item

38.

Minutes (Agenda item 1) pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 15 June 2012.

Minutes:

Subject to a number of questions raised by Mr Ludlow in relation to the Minutes to which responses were provided, the Minutes of the meeting held on 15 June 2012 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

39.

Apologies (Agenda item 2)

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from R Childerhouse, E Jolly and R Murray.

 

40.

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

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

Minutes:

None.

 

41.

Monitoring of the External Audit Situation (Standing Item) (Agenda item 6)

Minutes:

This was still work in progress and discussions were on-going.

 

42.

External Audit Progress Report - Breckland Council 2011/12 (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 199 KB

Report by the Audit Commission.

Minutes:

The External Audit Progress report had been split into two parts. The first part highlighted work that had been completed; during this phase of work the systems that had a material impact upon the financial statements had been documented.  The second part related to other matters of interest which included an update on the externalisation of the Audit Practice.

 

Mr Ludlow was pleased to see that the audit fee had been reduced but had concerns about the future and asked if the forthcoming new audit arrangements would have an affect on the current service provided.  He also asked a question in relation to the term of the new contract with Ernst & Young.  In response to the first question, the Audit Manager did not anticipate any changes to service.  As far as the latter question was concerned, Members were informed that the contract term, she believed, was two, two year rolling terms.

 

Another question related to the retainment of the power to issue a public interest report, one of the key features in the new local public audit regime, the Vice-Chairman asked what would trigger such a report.  Members were informed that it would have to be a significant matter such as financial misdemeanours that were not in the public domain. 

 

The arrangements going forward were explained and more importantly the scale of fees which would be reduced by 40% for 2012/13.

 

The report was otherwise noted.

 

43.

Annual Report of the Audit Committee (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Chairman of the Audit Committee in conjunction with the Head of Internal Audit.

Minutes:

The Head of Internal Audit presented the Annual Report of the Committee that was a requirement under its terms of reference.  This was the fourth year that such a report had been produced.

 

The report summarised the work of the Audit Committee during 2011/12 and confirmed that it had operated in accordance with its terms of reference and had complied with best practice.  The Committee had also demonstrated effective challenge during its six meetings in the year. 

 

The Chairman felt that the report highlighted how resilient the Audit Committee had been over the year.

 

Mr Ludlow queried the Panel meetings that had been held and asked what these were.  The Vice-Chairman explained that these particular meetings had been held for Members from both the Audit Committee and the Overview & Scrutiny Commission to review Members’ ICT options and the hardware subsequently supplied to them by the Council.

 

Another question related to whether the wording of the Whistle-blowing Policy should be changed in the light of the new external audit arrangements.  The Chairman thought the wording should remain for now until further clarification from the Government on the new arrangements had been received.

 

Referring to the membership of the Committee in relation to non-attendance, the Vice-Chairman felt that for those Members that had not attended but had provided written submissions, such submissions should be recorded.  The Chairman felt that this would be useful and asked that this be included in future reports.

 

Mr Stevens queried the Audit Committee’s Self-Assessment for 2011/12. The Head of Internal Audit advised that the annual self-assessment exercise had always been rigorously undertaken to identify the extent to which best practice operational guidance was being met and in previous years, there had been action plans formulated to address deviations noted and/or areas where Members felt more support was needed.  However, this year, there had been full compliance recorded against the best practice checklist and thus, no further action was required at this time.

 

Subject to written submissions being noted in the report from Members who had sent their apologies; it was

 

RESOLVED that the report be approved for submission to the next meeting of the Council.

 

44.

Breckland Training Services Proposal (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Report of the Assistant Director of Commissioning.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report requested Members to consider the proposals to charge for Breckland Council’s training services, including a proposal to increase the staff establishment by one.

 

There was no-one in attendance to present the report.

 

Mr Jermy asked to what extent this new service would address the budget issue. 

 

Mr Ludlow felt there were a number of issues on the structure of the business case, particularly in relation to generating profit.  The Assistant Director of Finance pointed out that no profit could be made but the overheads would be absorbed.

 

Members felt there were many questions relating to the Business Plan that needed a response prior to moving this proposal forward.

 

Mr Stevens had concerns about the goals listed on page 29 of the Plan as he could not see how these could be achieved.  He would have preferred to have seen sight of the market research and as such it had not been given him confidence in the figures.

 

Mr Jermy said that this report had been presented very differently at the Member Development Panel.

 

The Chairman felt that the document could be interpreted in two different ways; the idea itself was very good but was it viable.  He suggested that all Members should be provided with a presentation at a future Council meeting. 

 

There were a number of issues highlighted relating to the document including, data protection issues, market research and costs of other resources.  Furthermore, clarification was required as to whether this was a commercial model and what the financial projections had been based on.

 

The Head of Internal Audit pointed out that such a report and the decision required was not part of Audit’s remit and was puzzled as to why this had been added to the Committee’s work programme. 

 

Members of the Committee concurred with the above view and it was agreed that the Assistant Director of Finance would ascertain who had asked for the report to be included on the Audit Committee agenda.

 

RESOLVED that the Breckland Training Services proposal be deferred until further notice for the aforementioned reasons.

 

45.

Service Team Plans and Strategic Risk Registers (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Report of the Assistant Director of Democratic Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Governance & Performance Accountant explained that this report had been to various meetings and the information had been gathered from the new Performance Plus system.

 

The report included the strategic and operational risk registers. 

 

The responses to the following questions put forward by Mr Ludlow before the meeting were as follows:

 

NB: not all the responses had come from the risk owners, due to officer unavailability. 

 

The Governance & Performance Accountant had answered these queries to the best of his ability based on conversations from risk review meetings that had been held with risk owners.

 

Members are asked to note that individual risks where the rating has not changed has not been mentioned despite control measures and mitigations plans unless it has a current rating of more then 6 or there is another specific query relating to it.

 

In BC-AP-OR 03 what does CMT stand for?

Corporate Management Team

 

In BC-AP-OR 08 what does ATT stand for?

Academy Trust (Trading) (I believe – this risk relates to Swaffham High School moving to academy status).

 

In BC-ED-OR 04 what does KOG stand for?

Key Officer Group (non-service managers - next tier of management)

 

Strategic

 

BC-SR 01 - Maxine O’Mahony

Why has the rating not changed after the effect of control measures and mitigation actions?

The risk score has not changed as it is recognised that economic pressures are outside of our control, despite the implementation of control measures / mitigation plans.  It is felt to be prudent to reflect the risk at its current score.

 

BC-SR 02 - Mark Finch

Why has the likelihood increased after the effect of control measures and mitigation plans?

This is due to the “inherent” score being a historic score.  Used as a benchmark and reflects that because of current budgetary pressures this risk has increased.  It is felt to be prudent to reflect the risk at its current score.

 

BC-SR 05 - Maxine O’Mahony

How are the increases in capacity to be achieved when there is no HCA funding for Trafalgar?

Delivery of affordable housing is not dependent on HCA Funding.

 

BC-SR 06 - Vicky Thomson

Surely the risk is not just about reputational damage - what about the real impact on residents?

This is a fair point – this will be reviewed with the risk owner and updated accordingly.   

 

BC-SR 07 - Mark Stokes

Why has the rating not changed after the effect of control measures and mitigation actions?

This risk score has not changed – whilst controls have been identified, there are still actions to be completed.  It is felt to be prudent to reflect the risk at its current score in light of this.

 

BC-SR 11 - Maxine O’Mahony

Why has the rating not changed after the effect of control measures and mitigation actions?

The outcome of this risk is still unknown.  As a result it was deemed appropriate the risk score has remained the same. 

 

BC-SR 12 - Mark Stokes

Why has the rating not changed after the effect of control measures  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.

46.

Quarter 4 Governance Report Risks (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 246 KB

Report of the Assistant Director of Democratic Services.

Minutes:

The Governance & Performance Accountant presented the Quarter 4 Governance report.

 

Referring to commercial property investments, Members were informed that the target for lettings was relatively high but there was still some level of detail that had yet to be completed (see pages 96 and 97 of the agenda).  In response to a question, the lettings based in Thetford related to small business units and the Business Centre based in Breckland House.

 

It was pointed out that the rent income forecast was a net figure.  The commercial property account was monitored separately and had been approved in the Statement of Accounts.

 

In response to a query in relation to BC-SR 05 on page 98 of the agenda, Members were informed that the healthy pipeline of affordable housing related to Flagship Housing.

 

On page 100, with regard to whether there was any provision in the accounts for potential insurance claims to the Council in relation to Breckland Leisure Centre, the Assistant Director of Finance explained that the Council should be able to cover any such claims from its Reserves.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

 

47.

Work Programme (Agenda item 12) pdf icon PDF 55 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:

The Assistant Director of Finance reminded Members of the Treasury Management training session that would be held following the meeting in September – lunch would be provided.

 

A training session on the Performance Plus system had yet to be arranged.

 

It was noted that the Breckland Training Services Proposal would be added to a future meeting of the Audit Committee following clarification as mentioned at Minute No. 44/12 above.

 

It was agreed that all major contracts of the Council would be reviewed by the Audit Committee at some stage.

 

48.

Next Meeting (Agenda item 13)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Friday, 28 September 2012 at 10.00am in the Norfolk Room.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on Friday, 28 September 2012 were noted.