Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Breckland Conference Centre, Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE

Contact: Democratic Services  01362 656870


No. Item



To introduce the new Lay Member, Mr David Fowler.


The Chairman welcomed the new Lay Member, David Fowler to the Committee, and Members and Officers introduced themselves.


Mr Fowler thanked everyone for the warm welcome.  Mr Fowler said that he had worked in Local Authorities for a number of years and was a planner by background and was looking forward to working with Breckland Council and the Governance and Audit Committee.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 220 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 30 September 2021.


Councillor Monument requested that the following amendments be made:


Minute ref: 57/21 – follow up report on Internal Audit Recommendations (Para 10; line 8) should read ‘…agreements coming through with a number not actually complying with …’


Minute ref: 59/21 – 2020/21 Audit results Report (para 15; last line) should read ‘…signing and did not detract from the publication requirements.’


Subject to the above amendments, the minutes of the meeting held on 30 September 2021 were agreed.




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





To receive apologies for absence.


An apology for absence was received from Councillor Kybird.


Urgent Business

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.




Declaration of Interests

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.





Non-members wishing to address the meeting

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


The Chairman welcomed all non-members present to the meeting.


Training (Standing item)

To note if there are any training issues/ requests.


Members had appreciated the Treasury Management training that took place on 14 October and felt it had been very beneficial.


Constitution - Proposed Variations pdf icon PDF 430 KB

Report of Councillor Ian Sherwood, Executive Member for People, Communications & Governance.


Councillor Robinson, the Executive Member for Customer, Digital and Performance presented the report that considered variations to the Constitution.  Section 151 Officer has a very high workload and generally appoints a Deputy to assist. It is proposed that the constitution is amended to allow delegation of the S151 functions and will cover the exercise of the functions in all situations and not when the S151 Officer is absent.


Full Council meetings are lengthening due to the number and complexity of questions asked by members to both the Leader, cabinet members and supplemental questions on notice. It is proposed that all of these are now combined into one item in the Council agenda and to limit the time to a period of 30 minutes. The order of who can ask the questions will remain.


Members at committees and sub-committees may requisition a recorded vote, but the Constitution is not clear about how many members need to support that requisition. It is proposed that the calculation will be the same as the quorate figure for that particular committee.


It is proposed that the delegation to the S151 officer be amended to include the power to write off debts in accordance with the debt recovery policy which has already been approved, and also be able to dispose of obsolete stores or equipment.


It is proposed that Chief Officers are authorised to make payments of compensation in connection with complaints to a maximum of £10,000 subject to agreement with the monitoring officer and appropriate cabinet member/chair of committee and to inform OSC. Currently any payments over £1000 are submitted to Council for approval.


Councillor James questioned why the figure of compensation had risen from £1000 to £10000 and what calculations had been used to reach that figure. 


It was also noted that changes should be made to reflect the policy of the Council to ensure that the Constitution was updated to future proof and ensure it remained gender neutral.


Councillor Monument asked if Paragraph 10 (d) of Part 3 Section F1 be re-worded to say ‘The Section 151 Officer shall in all instances ensure that where there is a conflict of interest in relation to any matter detailed in paragraph (c) above the matter is dealt with by the duly appointed Deputy (remove reference to they s/he).


Councillor Birt also queried if there had ever been a report submitted to full Council to authorise payments of compensation in connection with complaints over the £1000 threshold.  He also questioned if it should be reported to a committee if any amounts were to be paid.


Members heard that the £10000 limit had been set as it was in line with the insurance excess limits already in place.  Councillor Monument recalled that there had not been a report to full council in over 20-years that had related to payments over the £1000 threshold.


Councillor Clarke asked if the proposals for the role of the S151 Officer had been proposed in line with the Local Government Act.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 71/21


Appointment of External Auditors from 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 284 KB

Report of Maxine O'Mahony, Chief Executive.

Additional documents:


The Assistant Director of Finance informed members that the existing external audit provision for Breckland was procured through Public Sector Audit Appointments Ltd (PSAA) for the period 2018-19 to 2022-23.  PSAA were now undertaking a procurement for the next appointing period and had invited all eligible bodies to opt into the national process.  Members were asked to consider the options for the external audit provision for the five-year period from 2023-24 to 2027-28 that were set out within the report.


The Chairman was aware that the supply of Auditors was restricted and personally felt minded to recommend the public procurement as felt there was a risk if the Council chose an alternative option.


Councillor Monument asked how long PSAA had been operating for.  Members heard that the PSAA had been operating for a while and that the process of procurement last time had proven to be very simple and successful.




1)    That the Council accepts the Public Sector Audit Appointments’ invitation to opt into the sector-led option for the appointment of external auditors for five years from 1 April 2023.


Auditor's Annual Report - Year Ended 31 March 2021 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Report by Mark Hodgson, Lead External Audit Partner (E&Y).


The Assistant Director of Finance informed Members that the report had repeated much of what had been discussed at the previous meeting, and that there were positive opinions on the financial statements, going concern, value for money and of the public interest report.


It was noted that there had been a recommendation within the report that suggested that any actions or issues reported within the Performance Board be incorporated into the appropriate risk register to ensure the overall governance and reporting of those key contracts.  This was just in relation to the major contracts, not on general performance of the Council.  However, information discussed within the Contracts Performance Boards would not be relevant to bring to the Governance and Audit Committee as it was an operational level.  Any major performance issues would be picked up through the PI report to Overview & Scrutiny, which covered an element of the recommendation.  It was proposed that a new risk be added to ensure that all contracts be managed effectively and a failure to manage those contracts would not mean the Council was working towards the Corporate Plan.  Therefore, this would be added as a new strategic risk, and would be reported to the Commission in February 2022.


Ernst and Young would be informed that this would form part of the normal audit procedures.


Members noted the contents of the report.




Progress Report on Internal Audit Activity up to 22 November 2021 in relation to the completion of the Annual Internal Audit Plan for 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Report by Faye Haywood, Head of Internal Audit.

Additional documents:


The Head of Internal Audit, Faye Haywood presented the progress report on Internal Audit Activity up to 22 November 2021 in relation to the completion of the Annual Internal Audit Plan for 2021/2022.


It was highlighted that since the report to the Governance and Audit Committee in September 21, there had been a significant change to the Internal Audit Plan.  The Private Sector Housing including the Disabled Facilities Grant audit was to be carried out in two parts with the first part culminating in a position statement and further detailed testing scheduled in Q4 to allow for changes to embed following the, recent Housing Services restructure and changes in the arrangements for sourcing contractors.. 


Mr Fowler asked how confident the 45 days of work would be completed before the end of December.  The Head of Internal Audit confirmed that there had been a significant move on the work since the report had been published and was confident that the Quarter 3 results would be received.


RESOLVED that Members reviewed the progress of the Internal Audit Plan for 2021/22 in the period covered by the report.


Follow up Report on Internal Audit Recommendations pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Report by Faye Haywood, Head of Internal Audit.

Additional documents:


The Head of Internal Audit presented the report that provided Members with the position on the progress made by management in implementing agreed Internal Audit recommendations as at 22 November 2021.  One important internal audit recommendation was reported as outstanding however the service area had informed that the recommendation had been completed.  It was proposed that the recommendation be marked as completed following Internal Audit verification work.


Mr Fowler asked for clarification as priorities were listed as ‘Important’, but yet also listed as 1, 2 and 3 and asked for the definition of ‘Important’.  The Head of Internal Audit provided clarification and also said she would review the documents to include the priority level, rather than refer to numbers.


Members noted the contents of the report.


Q3 Strategic Risk report pdf icon PDF 228 KB

Report of Jason Cole, Executive Director.


Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Customer, Digital and Performance presented the report that informed Members on the status of the Councils’ strategic risks for Quarter 3.  It was particularly highlighted that the Council continued to work with partners concerning the potential outcomes of the Governments Waste consultation. There was no detail with regard to the implementation or funding and therefore it was likely it would be broken into a separate strategic risk to the Council.


The Innovation and Change Business Partner added that whilst there was a cyber incident which was under investigation it was hoped more information would be shared at the next meeting.  He also highlighted an error within the report that stated that there had not been any GDPR breaches; however, there had been breaches reported. 


Councillor Clarke suggested that a strategic risk of delivering the Local Plan should be included that would allow the Governance and Audit Committee to monitor the timetable of progress and ensuring the Council delivered what Cabinet had agreed.


Members heard that it would be discussed at how the suggestion could be brought forward as a risk.


Mr Fowler added that when the report was discussed at Cabinet it had been identified as a key risk for not delivering the plan on time, and also suggested that recruitment should be included as a risk.  He also asked why there was such a variance of the financial and budget impact with regards to waste consultation and if this would be a one-off consequence.


The Innovation and Change Business Partner said that until further detail had been provided regarding the waste consultation, it was not clear what the financial burden would be; and therefore, a predicted figure was used.  Recruitment formed part of an operational risk, and therefore the recruitment of specific planning consultants would fall under that category.


Councillor Birt had carried out comparisons from previous reports and raised that the likelihood impacts had not been set the same across the risks.  He also felt that as Waste remained a most critical risk for the Council, that a separate agenda item should be brought forward to highlight what mitigations were important to the Council. Councillor Birt also asked for a definition of Raw Score.


The Innovation and Change Business Partner clarified that the Raw Score was defined as what would happen if the Council did nothing.  He had also taken on board the comments made by Councillor Birt with regards to the Likelihood impacts and these would be reviewed.


Members noted the contents of the report.


Treasury Management Mid Year Report 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 222 KB

Report of Maxine O’Mahony, Chief Executive.


Additional documents:


The Assistant Director for Finance presented the mid-year update on treasury activity to members.  The report included an update from LINK advisors on the interest rate environment and advised progress against the Council’s Capital position.


The Chairman added that inflation was out of the Council’s control but asked if that was a material concern.  Members heard that it was not of material concern for Treasury Management, however it would be reflected within the mid-term financial report and the budget report.


RESOLVED that the mid-year report and information on treasury activity be agreed.



Treasury Management Policy & Strategy 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 323 KB

Report of Maxine O’Mahony, Chief Executive.

Additional documents:


The Assistant Director of Finance presented the report that outlined the Council’s Prudential Indicators for 2022-23 to 2024-25 and the expected treasury operations for this period and requested approval of the Treasury Management Policy, Strategy, and Prudential Indicators for 2022-23 to 2024-25.


Members heard that the contract with the Council’s external treasury management advisors, Link, had been extended until 31 March 2022.  In the meantime, the procurement of a new advisory contract was underway, and Members would be updated on progress in due course. 


In addition, CIPFA were consulting on the Treasury Management and Prudential codes and therefore the proposed policy did not include that information as it was not yet known and would be referred to the Committee in March 2022 if required.


It was highlighted that the Council would be in a borrowing position for the first time in many years, but this could be funded through internal borrowing as we were paying back capital spend through revenue contributions.


The list of countries who had a sovereign rating of AA or higher had previously been updated by LINK to include Qatar and Abu Dhabi, and Members were asked to consider adding these back into the Council’s list of investments (as the Committee had removed them previously).


Councillor Birt asked if there were any ethical standards on where to invest.  Members heard that there were not any ethical standards in place, but that the LINK counterparty list had been based on finance factors.  In addition, those countries listed as AAA did not always deal with small amounts and therefore it was unlikely that Breckland would be able to deal with all those counterparties on the list.


Councillor Monument asked what would happen if the Council’s external treasury management advisors, Link, would not be extended past March 2022. The Assistant Director of Finance said that if there was a different advisor appointed, then they may hold a different list of ratings, in which case the Committee would be informed.  However, in practice all advisors used similar guidance and limits.


Mr Fowler had noted that there had been a loan made to the Mid-Norfolk Railway Trust but asked if there had been a typographical mistake.  The Assistant Director of Finance confirmed that the original loan had been £50,000 but that a balance of £5,000 remained outstanding.




1)    That the Treasury Management Strategy 2022-23 to 2024-25 at Appendix A of the report is approved

2)    That the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) statement contained within Appendix A of the report which sets out the Council’s policy on MRP is approved

3)    That the Prudential & Local Indicators and limits contained within Appendix A of the report (Tables 1-11) are approved

4)    That the Investment Strategy 2022-23 (Appendix B of the report) and the detailed criteria included in Appendix B1 of the report is approved

5)    That the Treasury Management Policy at Appendix B2 of the report is approved



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 8 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.


Members were asked to note that the Code of Conduct Standards Review would come into force at the same time as the new Council would be elected in May 2023.  An initial draught would be brought to the Committee towards the end of 2022 and onto Council in 2023.  This would be added to the work programme.


It was also noted that the Internal Audit Plan for 2022/23 be added to the meeting in February 2022.


Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting on Thursday, 10 February 2022 at 10am in the Anglia Room, the Conference Centre, Dereham.


The arrangements for the next meeting on Thursday 10 February, 2022 at 10.00am in the Anglia Room, The Conference Centre, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham were noted.