Agenda item

Annual Governance Statement for 2010/11 (Agenda item 7)

Report of the Assistant Director of Finance.


Members’ approval was sought for the Annual Governance Statement to be included in the Council’s published Financial Accounts for 2010-11.


The report drew on the findings of internal audit throughout the year.


Members were requested to review the draft Annual Governance Statement (Appendix A to the report), to ensure that it reflected the reports that had been considered over the past year, including the private discussions held with auditors, and that it supported their general understanding of the authority’s governance statement.


Once approved by the Committee, the Statement would be presented to the Leader and the Chief Executive for formal sign off and submission to external audit, along with the Statement of Accounts.  


Improved governance arrangements had been put in place which the Council had continued to strengthen over the past year.


Referring to the Constitution that had been reviewed and updated, Members were informed that further updating would be required to align it with the new joint management arrangements. The Chairman pointed out that Norfolk County Council had asked its Members and Management to work together on its review and felt that it would be much more acceptable and beneficial for Breckland Council to do the same in the form of a Working Group. Mr Kybird asked if there would be common wording inserted for both authorities.  Members were informed that would be the case where it was appropriate to do so.


The Assistant Director of Finance agreed with the aforementioned idea as it would be a good way of extending the knowledge of the Constitution.


Additionally, further improvements to the governance arrangements included:


·        two Independent Members being appointed to the Audit Committee;

·        the  Whistleblowing, Money Laundering and Anti-fraud policies being updated;

·        the merger of Business Improvement Sub-Committee with the Capital Programme Working Group to form a Business and Projects Sub-Committee; and

·        Charter Plus status being attained for Elected Member Development.


Adhering to the Transparency Agenda had not, as yet, been included in the Statement but the Assistant Director of Finance suggested that it be included in the final draft.


Under the heading Quality of Services a question was asked about the Use of Resources assessment carried out in 2008/09, Members were informed that such an assessment had not been carried out last year as government policy had removed this requirement.  An extra line would be added to this paragraph to highlight this point.


The Risk Management review had been recognised as a ‘Good Assurance’ assessment which reflected the good work carried out by the Governance & Performance Team and the Audit Committee.


Under Partnerships, Growth Point funding for Thetford had been highlighted as requested by Mr Kybird at the previous meeting.  It was also felt appropriate to mention under this heading the expansion of the Anglia Revenues & Benefits Partnership and the close links with South Holland District Council.


Mr Ludlow considered the Governance Statement to be a good document but felt it lacked demonstration of how these policies and procedures had been operated.  He suggested that a penultimate paragraph or a reference should be added so that the public was aware that the Statement was a reflection of the various Audit reports throughout the year.


The Chairman asked if the Council had a system of checks to assess whether everything was working overall.  The Assistant Director of Finance stated that this was already happening through the internal audit reports and referred to the annual report of the Head of Internal Audit that had been approved at the previous meeting.  Additionally, Managers provided governance assurance statements on a regular basis with these also contributing to the review of governance arrangements. 


Mr Kybird asked how the implementations were monitored when decisions had been made.  The Chairman pointed out that there was a method in place but he did not know where this was shown on the Statement.


After further discussion, it was agreed that under the Audit Committee’s Review of Effectiveness additional wording would be added to the fourth comment to clarify the reports that the Committee considered.


A minor textual correction was noted re: expansion of ASB to Anti-Social Behaviour.


RESOLVED that the Annual Governance Statement for 2010/11 be approved.


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