Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 69 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 20 February 2008.


The minutes of the meeting held on 20 February 2008 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.




To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Mr. M. Fanthorpe and Mrs. S.C. King, Audit Manager.



Risk Management (Agenda Item 8)

Presentation by the Chief Accountant.


The Deputy Chief Executive presented an overview of Risk Management to inform Members of the background to the Council’s present position, details of the systems and methodology introduced for controlling the risk management process, monitoring risk through the use of the performance management system and the framework provided through the newly adopted Risk Management Strategy.  A copy of the Strategy document was circulated to Members at the meeting.


Historically, Breckland had been scored low by the Audit Commission on the grounds of an inadequate risk management framework and structure that was also under-resourced and not embedded within the Council.  Since then, the Council had adopted a new Risk Management Strategy.


The new risk management system identified key risks in the following areas:


  • Corporate & Partnership
  • Services
  • Decisions
  • Projects and Programmes


The risk management methodology was based on a risk cycle, which had at its core the Risk Management Strategy, around which there was a continuous cycle of risk identification, analysis, control and monitoring.


All Directorates had identified high risk areas.  The highest area of risk concerned corporate governance, particularly in the area of Partnerships where limited risk management had been undertaken, either at the strategic level or with key partners.


Service area risks were reviewed by Directors and recorded on the TEN management performance system. 


So far as decision making was concerned, the reporting template had been revised to provide more specific information to aid that process.


Risk management of projects and programmes had been a real issue of concern and action had been taken through the new methodology to address these concerns through the establishment of a formal corporate framework to be managed by the Corporate Management Team.


Performance management was controlled and monitored through regular reporting to portfolio meetings with Executive Members and officers, through the Risk Management Group and Risk Board, through performance clinics and the Hothouse process.


Risk management was continuing to be embedded throughout the Council, through training, monitoring through the TEN performance management system, with strategic direction being provided through the Audit Committee.


Issues to be addressed related to:


  • The significant weaknesses remaining in the areas of projects and programmes risk and partnership risks.
  • The understanding of how to identify and analyse risk was patchy and there was a need for further training and quality control.
  • To ensure there were adequate resources and skills in risk management.
  • How risk issues were selected, prioritised and escalated to Member level.


The latest Direction of Travel statement from the Audit Commission noted the improvements being made by the Council.


During the discussion that followed, a member suggested that an intrinsic element of risk management was that of wider management and capability or competence in that area.   It was a difficult area and many larger businesses, including banks, had found themselves lacking in this field.  But it could be a way to help the Council advance from the present level 1 score to level 3 score on risk management, which should be the aim.


A key to developing the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Internal Audit – Terms of Reference, Code of Ethics, Audit Strategy, Strategic and Annual Audit Plans (Agenda Item 6) pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Report of the Audit Manager.

Additional documents:


The Chief Accountant presented the report on behalf of the Audit Manager.


Members highlighted that the statement on risk in paragraph 4 of the report was unclear.  It was explained that it was a standard wording where the risk assessment identified no new or additional significant risks.  It was agreed that this could be clarified and that the template should be amended to delete the words “in terms of risk” at the end of this statement.<1>


In answer to a question, it was explained that there were two half-year reports which gave details of progress on whether recommended actions had been implemented or not.  The TEN performance management system also enabled regular monitoring to ensure follow-up actions were carried out, as well as regular follow-up work by internal audit.


On another question, it was explained that the Council received full background information on internal audit reports but that the picture was not so clear in regard to external audit reports.  The Chief Accountant offered to discuss this with the Audit Manager.


Members felt that a glossary of terms used in the documents would be helpful.


In this connection, the Committee sought clarification of the relationship between the Audit Strategy and the Strategic and Annual Audit Plans and it was agreed to bring further information on this to the next meeting, together with information on how costs are applied with the appointment of new contractors to allow for the time needed for them to learn their new client’s systems. 


            RESOLVED that


(1)         the revised Internal Audit Terms of Reference be approved;

(2)         the Code of Ethics for Internal Audit be approved;

(3)         the Internal Audit Strategy 2008-09 be approved;

(4)         the Strategic Audit Plan 2008/09 – 2012/13 be approved;

(5)         the Annual Audit Plan 2008-09 be approved;

(6)         the Audit Manager be requested to report back to the next meeting to explain the relationship between the Audit Strategy and Strategic and Annual Audit Plans.



Audit Joint Working Protocol (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Report of the Audit Manager.

Additional documents:


The Chief Accountant presented the report.


As for the previous item, it was explained it was a standard wording where the risk assessment identified no new or additional significant risks.  It was agreed that this could be clarified and that the template should be amended to delete the words “in terms of risk” at the end of this statement.


The Committee otherwise supported the adoption of the Protocol and accordingly it was


            RESOLVED that the Audit Joint Working Protocol be adopted.




Value for Money (Agenda Item 9)

Presentation by the Chief Accountant.


The Chief Accountant gave a presentation on how value for money was delivered by the Council and a copy of the Value for Money Strategy was circulated which described and explained how the Council ensured it delivered value for money services.


‘Value for Money’ was defined as: The optimum combination of whole life cost and quality (or fitness for purpose) to meet the user’s requirement.


The Audit Commission’s ‘Value Chain’ was illustrated as follows:



At present, the Council stood as follows:


  • Cost – Lowest Council Tax
  • Performance – Improving
  • Customer Satisfaction – Improving


However, on the use of resources, the Audit Commission had scored the Council at a rating of 2, which was ‘adequate’.  The reason for this rating was felt to be that the Council needed to better document how it achieved value for money.


The Audit Commission’s annual inspection letter stated that, while overall performance was improving and the commitment to value for money was strong, the Council sometimes failed to effectively identify and document its progress.


The Council’s value for money strategy was designed to:


  • Demonstrate the corporate commitment to ensure value for money was an integral part of the Council’s everyday business
  • To ensure integrated service, performance and financial planning through the Annual Delivery Plan and Service Team Plans which was performance monitored
  • To ensure the capital strategy directed capital investment decisions and that the property portfolio continued to consistently deliver substantial income
  • To ensure effective decision making by requiring significant decisions to be based on a full business case that demonstrate they accord with the tenets of value for money and through the role of the Audit Committee to provide a strategic overview of the performance of the Council’s financial systems, performance management, risk management and internal audit arrangements
  • To provide for the role of scrutiny and review
  • To undertake regular surveys of customer satisfaction and to action feedback, to ensure that the Council continued to listen, learn and share


So far as the question of economy/cost was concerned, specific measures had been taken to enhance procurement of goods and services and maximise resources through effective raising and collection of income, fees and charges.


On efficiency, the Strategy involved a review of services and a business process review and transformation, together with monitoring and reviewing performance.


On effectiveness of value for money, the Strategy provided for monitoring user satisfaction and feedback to guide the redesign of functions.


A baseline review had also been undertaken.  This took of the form of workshops with small groups of managers and explained the concept of value for money, introduced the value for money strategy and the toolkit to be used for annual value for money reviews.  Information was captured covering costs and efficiency measures, performance, customer satisfaction and benchmarking results.


The conclusions from the review showed that:


Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Wednesday, 11 June 2008 at 10.00 a.m.


A proposed timetable of meetings for the remainder of the year will be presented to the next meeting for confirmation.


Members are reminded of the arrangements for the planned CIPFA “Effective Audit Committee” training day on 18th April 2008 at South Norfolk District Council.


The arrangements for the next meeting on 11 June 2008 and the training day on 18th April were noted.


The following Items were noted for the next meeting:


  • Internal Audit Annual Report
  • Annual Governance Statement
  • Risk Management (Minute 11/08 refers)
  • Draft Statement of Accounts