Agenda and draft minutes

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

Contact: Democratic Services  01362 656870

Items
No. Item

Chairman

In the absence of the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman, Councillor Robert Kybird,  chaired the meeting.

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Minutes (Agenda item 1) pdf icon PDF 101 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 25 July 2019.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 25 July 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Vice-Chairman.

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Actions arising from the Minutes (if any) (standing item) (Agenda item 3)

Minutes:

None.

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Apologies (Agenda item 4)

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from the Chairman, Councillor Borrett.

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Urgent Business (Agenda item 5)

To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any item as urgent business, pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

None.

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Declaration of Interests (Agenda item 6)

The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011.  Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.

 

Minutes:

None.

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Non-members wishing to address the meeting (Agenda item 7)

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

Minutes:

Councillor Birt and Councillor Morton were in attendance to observe the meeting.

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Training (Standing item) (Agenda item 8)

To note if there are any training issues/ requests.

Minutes:

Members were reminded of the Treasury Management training session taking place immediately after the meeting.

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Process for amending the Constitution (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Report of Mark Stinson, Executive Manager for Governance.

 

Minutes:

Mark Stinson, the Executive Manager for Governance presented the report.

 

The Governance & Audit Committee had asked for a report to be prepared setting out the Committee’s current role in constitution al changes and what would be required to enable greater involvement of the Committee in such changes.

 

Under Article 14 of the Council’s Constitution, changes to the Constitution had to be approved by the Full Council before they were implemented.  Where, in the reasonable opinion of the Monitoring Officer, changes were minor, were required to be made to remove any inconsistency or ambiguity, or were required to be made so as to put into effect any decision of the Council or its committees or the Cabinet, they could be implemented by the Monitoring Officer subject to subsequent ratification by Council.

 

As a matter of process, where proposed changes would have a material impact on the work or role of a Committee, such proposals were first submitted to the relevant Committee for consideration prior to being reported to Full Council.  The recent changes made to the planning delegations that were considered by the Planning Committee in the first instance prior to being recommended to Full Council were given as an example.

 

It was noted that no individual standing Committee had previously been given general responsibility for reviewing proposed constitutional changes except for a Constitution Working Group that had been established in 2013.  The Executive Manager recommended that should the Governance & Audit Committee be minded to take a formal role in reviewing the Constitution, this should be reserved for substantive changes rather than minor amendments.

 

Councillor Clarke asked for clarification as to whether changes reviewed by the Committee would still need to be ratified by Full Council.  Additionally, if another Committee wanted to make a substantive change would it be brought to the Governance & Audit Committee first or straight to Full Council.  In response, the Executive Manager for Governance advised that the Constitution allowed Full Council to appoint a Committee to recommend changes to the Constitution but such changes would still need to be agreed by Full Council.

 

Councillor Grey queried the procedure as there seemed to be, in her opinion, a great deal of duplication.

 

The Executive Manager for Governance explained that any minor or substantive changes would have to be reported to Full Council but any changes that effected a Committee would have to be taken to that Committee, followed by consideration by the Governance & Audit Committee before a final recommendation to Full Council.

 

Jon Plaskett, the Independent Lay Advisor did not believe that this Committee would be adding any value and was unsure why such matter were even being discussed but asked what other Council’s did.  Christine Marshall, the Executive Director for Commercialisation & S151 Officer advised that it varied from authority to authority and how active the Governance & Audit Committee was.   She pointed out that this Committee’s role was governance and it was within Governance & Audit Committee’s gift to decide.

 

Councillor Monument initially had some reservations as to what  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59/19

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Annual Audit Letter for the year ended 31 March 2019 (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Report of the External Auditor.

Minutes:

Mark Hodgson, Associate Partner for Ernst & Young presented a summary of the audit work carried out throughout the year ending 31 March 2019.

 

Members were reminded that the accounts had been signed following the meeting in July 2019 and publication followed. He was pleased to announce that a god audit had been carried out in the timeframe allowed.

 

The Vice-Chairman queried the statement on page 23 of the agenda pack in relation to misstatement due to fraud or error.  Members were informed that external audit was paid to test that the assurances given by Officers were true.

 

The Vice-Chairman allowed Councillor Birt to put a question forward.  From a public perception point of view, Councillor Birt asked about the on-going process of keeping the same auditor that had been mentioned in a previous training session.  The Executive Director & S151 Officer explained that this was a national led contract and most authorities had changed their auditors but Breckland Council had agreed to retain Ernst & Young as the Council’s External Auditor for the next 5 to 7 years.    The Associate Partner for Ernst & Young then explained the process since the rules changed for the procurement of new Auditors. The Vice-Chairman added that it was up to Members of the Governance & Audit Committee to ensure that there was a robust procedure in place to rotate auditors. The Executive Director & S151 Officer also added that it was about having quality finance staff in place too.

 

The Vice-Chairman queried the meaning under IFRS 16 in relation to leases where it stated that the Council must therefore ensure that all lease arrangements were fully documented and asked if a report on this subject could be brought back to the Governance & Audit Committee in the near future.  He then mentioned the final fees and asked if these fees had been halved over the years and what had changed within audit.  Members were informed that it was mostly due to EY moving ahead with the audit transformation agenda and being able to download the information electronically and in whole data sets, which had changed the way EY tests key balances more efficiently yet effectively.

 

The Independent Member was very pleased with the report but asked if the auditor had been satisfied with his evaluation of the two areas listed at the bottom of page 28 of the agenda pack.  The Associate Partner for Ernst & Young explained that this page set out the level being tested and he had not found any issues to report.

 

Following further questions the Annual Audit Letter for the year ending 31 March 2019 was noted.

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CIPFA Audit Committee Self-Assessment (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Verbal report by Faye Haywood, Head of Internal Audit.

 

Please find attached a copy of the questionnaire.  

 

Minutes:

For the benefit of new Members, Faye Haywood, the Head of Internal Audit, presented this informal report to promote discussion.  A formal report would then be brought to back to a future meeting.

 

The results of the assessment from the February meeting were highlighted.  It was noted that John Plaskett, the Independent Lay Advisor had provided the previous scores.

 

The Vice-Chairman felt that this was a good time to go through the scores following the external audit.  It was agreed that, in future, the initial Self-Assessment report would be brought to the Committee in the month of October.

 

Following a number of questions, it was agreed to go through the first part of the assessment which required a ‘yes’ / ‘partly’/ or ‘no’ response, which covered:

 

·        Purpose and Governance

·        Functions of the Committee

·        Membership and Support; and

·        Effectiveness of the Committee

 

 All were answered ‘yes’ except for one which was considered not applicable.

 

Referring to question 9 of the assessment, it was agreed that both the Audit Committee skills matrix and CIPFA’s Position Statement would be emailed to Members for information.

 

The second part of the document required an assessment of how the Committee displayed its effectiveness through the reports it received.  The assessment had been broken down into the following key areas – it was agreed that Constitution review would be added going forward:

 

1.     Promoting the principles of good governance and their application to decision making;

2.     Contributing to the development of an effective Audit Committee;

3.     Supporting the establishment of arrangements for the governance of risk and for effective arrangements to manage risks;

4.     Advising on the adequacy of the assurance framework and considering whether assurance is deployed efficiently and effectively;

5.     Supporting the quality of the internal audit activity, particularly by underpinning its organisational independence;

6.     Aiding the achievement of the authority’s goals and objectives through helping to ensure appropriate governance, risk, controls and assurance arrangements;

7.     Supporting the development of robust arrangements for ensuring value for money;

8.     Helping the authority to implement the values of good governance, including effective arrangements for countering fraud and corruption risks.

 

Taking into account previous comments and scoring, each area listed above was given a score of 4.  Additionally, it was agreed that as the Terms of Reference for the Committee were much clearer now, comments previously made under question 6 above would be amended.

 

The final report would be presented at the next meeting scheduled to take place on 12 December 2019.  It was agreed that the CIPFA Self- Assessment would be reported to the Committee on an annual basis.

 

The report was otherwise noted.

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Work Programme (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 46 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 work programme would be updated accordingly.

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Next Meeting (Agenda item 12)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Thursday, 12 December 2019 at 2pm in the Norfolk Room, Dereham.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on Thursday, 12 December 2019 at 2pm in the Norfolk Room were noted.