Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Democratic Services  01362 656870


No. Item


Minutes (Agenda item 1) pdf icon PDF 210 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 10 February 2022.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 10 February 2022 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Actions arising from the Minutes (if any) (standing item) (Agenda item 2)




Apologies (Agenda item 3)

To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Clarke, Hambidge and Monument.


Councillor Jermy was in attendance as substitute for Councillor Clarke.


Urgent Business (Agenda item 4)

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 (Agenda item 5)

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.



None declared.


Non-members wishing to address the meeting (Agenda item 6)

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


Councillors Cowen, James, Suggitt, Birt and Morton were in attendance.


Q1 risk report (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 228 KB

Report by Councillor Jane James, Executive Member for Customer & Corporate Services.

Additional documents:


Councillor James, the Executive Member for Customer & Corporate Services whose Portfolio included performance and risk management introduced the report.


She was pleased to announce that the number of strategic risks had been reduced from 13 to 11 (see section 1.8 of the report).  She then referred to the cyber security risk on page 26 of the agenda pack and reminded Members of the importance of completing the cyber security training if they had not already done so.


Ryan Pack, the Innovation & Change Business Partner then provided Members with a detailed overview of the report.


David Fowler, the Independent Lay Advisor for the Governance & Audit Committee then asked a number of questions.


Under paragraph 1.2, he asked the meaning of GOLD.  Members were informed that this was a response team that had been set up during the Covid pandemic but had continued.


The date of June 2022 would be added to the table under section 1.8 of the report.


On page 20 of the agenda pack, under the increased demand for housing services risk, Mr Fowler felt that the cost of living increase should be included as a potential trigger and questioned the target date.


The Innovation & Change Business Partner explained that this risk was about volumes and in terms of target dates there was an action plan to reach this target but agreed that the risk should be re-shaped.


Mr Fowler then referred to Nutrient Neutrality on page 21 of the agenda pack which he felt would have an impact on the Local Plan.  He also commented on the leisure re-opening on page 23 of the agenda pack which again he felt would be affected by the increase in the cost of living.  Referring to the Local Plan risk on page 25 of the agenda pack he had noticed that the dates did not accord with the Local Development Scheme and should be checked accordingly. 


He had also noticed a typo on page 30 of the agenda pack, the word recovery should be replaced with regeneration, and on page 31, he asked if the target date had been met for the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in respect of 3rd party comments not being displayed on the Breckland website in relation to planning applications.


In terms of the Local Plan queries, the Innovation & Business Partner said that he would look into this further and in terms of leisure, he was pleased to report that the level of attendance had not dropped pre-covid levels. As far as GDPR was concerned, Members were informed that a report was due to be presented to the next committee meeting.


The Chairman pointed out that there was nothing about GDPR on the Work Programme and asked for this to be confirmed.  


The Vice-Chairman, Councillor Kybird felt that inflation and interest rates should be monitored as a major risk.  Members were informed that such risks would be captured under the Medium-Term Financial Plan.  The Assistant Director of Finance, Alison Chubbock confirmed that as this would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/22


Internal Audit Year End Progress Report 2021/22 (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Report by Faye Haywood, Head of Internal Audit.

Additional documents:


Faye Haywood, the Head of Internal Audit presented the report.


This was the first of two reports from Internal Audit and the intention of the Internal Audit Year End progress report was to provide all the executive summaries of the work that the internal auditors had been able to finalise for the last period of the year.


Attention was drawn to section 2.1 on page 40 of the agenda pack where it had been highlighted that the Office 365 email and calendar management audit schedule had been deferred and the results of this audit would be reported to this Committee from September onwards.


The final position in relation to the completion of the 2021/22 Internal Audit Plan could be seen at Appendix 1 of the report.  Six reports that had been included in this paper highlighted at section 4.4 of the report where the majority of them had received a positive assurance grading, only one audit, the Private Sector Housing Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) had been given a limited assurance grading.


Within this period, two position statements had been issued to management for consideration, the Digital Strategy and the Legal Services and were advisory in nature with practical actions suggested.


Section 4.10 covered the ARP audits and Appendix 1 on page 44 of the agenda pack provided Members with the entire agreed audit work from 2021/22 including the results and the recommendations against each one.


The Executive Summary could be found on page 46 of the agenda pack (Appendix 2) which provided a high-level summary of all areas that had been concluded except for Private Sector Housing.  Some progress had been made to improve this service, including a new team structure, allocation of resources and new management but there were still some improvements to be made hence why 9 important recommendations had been given but these were due to be completed by September this year.  


A follow up report would be provided in due course to highlight any outstanding recommendations.


The report was otherwise noted.


Annual Internal Audit Opinion 2021/22 (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 124 KB

Report by Faye Haywood, Head of Internal Audit.

Additional documents:


The Head of Internal Audit presented Members with the Annual Report and Opinion for 2021/22, that drew upon the outcomes of Internal Audit work performed over the course of the year.  The report also provided a conclusion on the effectiveness of Internal Audit as well as a follow up section of management action.


As it was quite a lengthy report just the main points were highlighted as follows:


Section 2.2 of the report on page 72 of the agenda pack outlined the opinion itself and the reasons why a ‘reasonable’ opinion had been given. It also highlighted the substantial assurances that had been given but had also recommended that the findings from the Disabled Facilities Grant be highlighted within the Council’s Annual Governance Statement until completed.


Section 3.3 of the report on page 73 of the agenda pack provided Members with a summary of the internal audit work and at section 3.4 on page 74 of the agenda pack, the Head of Internal Audit pointed out that due to the hard work of the Executive and Operational Management and also with the help of this Committee, 3 low priority recommendations were being reported across the consortium in Norfolk.  


The Annual Review of the Effectiveness of Internal Audit highlighted the internal assessment process and the KPIs for the contract.


The appendices to the report were also explained.


Mr Fowler asked how Members would be able to understand the progress being made against the recommendations and referred to Appendix 1 on page 79 of the Agenda pack and highlighted the Environmental Services, Waste Management area as an example.  There were 5 recommendations of which 3 were important and 2 needed attention in a 3-month timeframe but as it stated they were not yet due he asked when they would be due.


Members were informed that the 3 month and 6-month timeframes were there as a guide and could take longer so the auditors needed to factor in when management could practically get on top of these issues.  In terms of the assurances a deadline had been given in the final report but if not met it would come back to the Committee on the follow up report.


The meaning of ‘not yet due’ was explained.


Referring to page 85 of the agenda pack, Mr Fowler queried the response under the Housing Needs area as it sounded a little vague – ‘the Housing Manager would put something in place to review this’.  He felt that the wording should be more specific and similarly on the Cyber Security.


The Head of Internal Audit said that she would feed those comments back to the Managers concerned but reminded Members that these were lower priority recommendations.   


Councillor Jermy mentioned the Disabled Facilities Grants as it had not been long ago when there had been significant delays in people receiving such support primarily due to shortages of Occupational Therapists.  His experience of late was that it was a much quicker process, a real improvement, and the idea  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25/22


Annual Report on the Treasury Management Service and Actual Prudential Indicators 2021/22 (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 218 KB

Report by Councillor Phil Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenue & Benefits.

Additional documents:


Councillor Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance, Revenue & Benefits introduced the report and also introduced the author of the report, Matthew Fernandez-Graham.  Matthew had recently been appointed as the Accountancy Manager and this was his first time at this Committee, but his knowledge base and his skills set were particularly well suited to the work being done at this Council.


The two recommendations to Full Council for Members to consider were highlighted.


The Accountancy Manager thanked Councillor Cowen for his kind comments. 


Three main points were highlighted.  Firstly, the cash balances at the end of March 2022 stood at £40m, this was quite exceptional due to the energy rebate totalling £8m that the Council received which had now been passed onto residents and was a one-off impact to the Council with the cash balances now standing at £32m.


Secondly, the Capital Funding Requirement (CFR) had now turned positive that meant that the Council would have an underlying need to borrow for any capital works.  However, notwithstanding that, there had not been a need for the Council to borrow in the last financial year, but as this was a significant change to the Council’s financial circumstances it needed to be brought to Members attention.


Finally, the Council had received a return of 2.9% on its cash investments in the last financial year and this was expected to increase in the new financial year as interest rates were now rising on a monthly basis. 


Referring to page 106 of the agenda pack, Mr Fowler asked for an explanation in respect of the final bullet point at section 6.4 of the report.


Members were informed that this referred to Breckland Bridge where the Council was providing loans to the joint venture company at market rates.


The Vice-Chairman drew attention to page 92 of the agenda pack, under the heading, the Link Group Updated Interest Rate Forecast and asked how often the Council received these updates and how long did it take to redo the calculations.


The Accountancy Manager stated that Link Group were very prompt, any updates were provided immediately after the Bank of England announcements.


Councillor Jermy queried section 2.3 of the report on page 88 of the agenda pack as it had been previously mentioned that the Council Tax rebate of £150 per household was £8m and wondered what the difference would be in the current investments at the end of March, and he presumed that although a significant amount of that £8m had now been spent he asked what the deadline was for spending the remainder of that money, and what would happen if it was not spent.


In terms of the reasons why the other investments were so high, the Accountancy Manager explained that the Capital Programme had been slightly below budget and remained in the Council’s investment balances. There were also a few other grants that had not been banked until the end of March 2022 which would have been added to the balances.  The deadline for spending  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26/22


Training (Standing item) (Agenda item 11)

To note if there are any training issues/ requests.


The Vice-Chairman mentioned Councillor Hambidge, a new Member of the Council and this Committee and felt that specific trainings sessions should be arranged, and a refresher course could be useful for all G&A Members.


The Chairman agreed and was keen that such training should be offered to all Members not just Member of this Committee and such training should be commissioned and asked the Assistant Director of Finance & S151 Officer to recommend some relevant training accordingly.


Work Programme (Agenda item 12) pdf icon PDF 13 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.


The Chairman had noted reference made to a possible GDPR report for the next meeting and asked for this to be followed up.


The Vice-Chairman asked for dates to be provided for the last two items on the Work Programme – the Planning Register & General Data Protection Regulations and the Standards Review, Code of Conduct.


Next Meeting (Agenda item 13)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Thursday, 28 July 2022 at 10am in the Anglia Room.


The arrangements for the next meeting on Thursday, 28 July 2022 at 10am in the Anglia Room were noted.


A request to change the February 2023 meeting to March 2023 was agreed.  A new date would be issued in due course.