Agenda and minutes
Venue: Meeting Room 1, Guildhall
Contact: Ken Bickerton Committee Officer
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Ronnie Prince, J R Skelland and Nigel Williams.
Matthew Edwards, Financial Audit Manager, Wales Audit Office introduced Michelle Richards to the meeting and advised the Committee that she would be taking over this role at future meetings. The Chair, on behalf of the Committee thanked Mr Edwards for his contribution over the years and wished him well for the future. He also welcomed Michelle Richards to the Committee.
Declarations of personal interests, if any
Members are reminded of their responsibility, under Paragraph 11 of the Members’ Code of Conduct, to declare the existence and nature of any personal interest in respect of any of the business to be transacted at this meeting
There were no declarations of personal interest.
To sign as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting held on 26 July 2018.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 26 July 2018 were submitted.
RESOLVED – That the Minutes of the meeting held on 26 July 2018 be signed as a correct record.
Minute 19 – Counter Fraud Strategy 2018/21
The Head of Finance advised that the DWP were alerted by the Council to any concerns around potential instances of fraud. Issues in relation to lack of feedback had been addressed by the HoD with the DWP. The appointment of a new post within the DWP along with scheduled quarterly meetings would help to address these concerns.
The HoF confirmed that a change from ‘zero tolerance’ to a ‘tough on fraud’ had been made but otherwise the Strategy, as considered at the 26 July 2018 meeting, remained unchanged.
To consider the report of the Head of Finance.
The Head of Finance submitted an updated Work Programme.
The Head of Finance advised that the work programme was well-populated in terms of internal audit issues that required consideration. Consideration needed to be given as to whether any external audit items could be included on the programme.
The Chair noted that there had been an improvement in terms of presenting a more evenly balanced work programme.
RESOLVED – That the Work Programme be noted.
To consider the report from the Head of Finance.
The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/98/18) which enabled consideration to be given to the Service Manager – Audit and Technical’s Interim Report for April 2018 – August 2018.
The Audit Lead introduced the report and drew attention to the main findings of the audit work undertaken during the reporting period. Twenty audits had been completed, one of which had been given a ‘Red/Amber’ level of assurance. The Executive Summary from this audit was shown in Appendix A2 to the report. The report also included the counter-fraud work undertaken by Wrexham Internal Audit Services during the reporting period.
During discussion of the report Members raised the following matters in particular:
· Whilst it was too early to draw firm conclusions there was a general consensus that the report indicated an improvement in the overall effectiveness of controls.
· There was a need for further improvement in communication between ICT and Human Resources in terms of managing information around leavers
· The Audit Lead confirmed that all planned audits for period 1, with the exception of one, had been completed and he was confident regarding the completion of the Audit Plan for 2018/19.
· The Chair advised that he was fully supportive of the audit of Special Educational Needs (SEN) which had replaced the themed audit of Governance in Schools (“018/22) and suggested that this should become mandatory as it was an issue in other local authorities.
· The themed of Governance in Schools would be included in the Audit Plan 2019/20.
· Members considered the Former Tenant Arrears – 1st Follow up (2018/703). The Head of Finance advised that whilst it was the aim of the Council to recover arrears from existing tenants on a pro-active basis, in reality this was difficult to achieve due to a number of factors including staff turnover and work load pressures. A great deal of work was ongoing to improve systems that would allow for accuracy in determining what was true debt and/or genuine credits. The Head of Finance advised that some formal procedures had been agreed. He stated that previously credits had masked the Council’s true level of debt but the improved system would allow for accuracy in terms of determining the current position.
· Members considered Appendix A4 to the report. The Payroll and Travelling & Subsistence audits were scheduled for December 2018 as they had been carried out at the latter stages of the Audit Plan 2017/18.
· In referring to the ‘ICT Security – Networks’ audit, it was suggested by one Member that as ICT was the driver for all processes within the Council, this was potentially a high risk area.
· Confirmation that the audit of ‘HMOs would include licensing of HMOs whilst the ‘Licensing Audit’ referred to other types of licensing.
· Recognition that whilst improvements had been made in respect of the ‘Highways Maintenance Contract’ there was still further room for improvement.
· The Head of Finance confirmed that the audit in respect of ‘Out of County Placements’ would consider both the financial and care provision aspects. ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
To consider the report of the Head of Finance.
The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/96/18) which informed the Committee of the Council’s significant risks and how they are managed.
The Audit Lead introduced the report and reminded Members that the Council’s Risk Management Policy requires the Council to have formal arrangements in place for managing strategic and operational risks. Risk and Control Registers are kept for the Council’s principal risks and for each department. Extracts from these Risk and Control Registers as at 28 August 2018 were attached to the report.
During consideration of the report Members raised the following matters:
Executive Director (Place and Economy)
· PR06 – Query from one Member as to why reference had not been made to the Corporate Complaints Procedure.
· A Member suggested that the establishment of a ‘School Performance Task and Finish Group’ should be referenced as an existing mitigation.
Adult and Social Care
· ASC102 - There had been difficulties over the years in terms of managing the finances related to packages jointly funded with BCUHB. Officers stressed that they had been trying to mitigate these difficulties through improved communication and that the current situation evidenced some improvement in this area. In noting Members’ ongoing concern the HoF advised that this area was still identified as a risk within the Risk Register and that this provided fair representation of the current situation.
Environment and Planning
· EP015 – Concern from one Member that not all accidents were investigated. An officer advised that the Head of Environment and Protection was in the process of updating the risk register and that there will be a need to ensure that this action is implemented and is shown under controls that are in place.
Corporate and Customer Services
· CC002 – A Member suggested that there was a potential for Local Authorities in Wales to tap into the North Wales Police infrastructure which had recently benefited from Welsh Government funding for a new ICT platform. She further requested that this suggestion should be considered by SLT.
· FN010 – The Head of Finance explained that the high risk identified related to previous banking collapses nationally and internationally. It was explained that the mitigating controls in place include regular monitoring based on external investment advice and that no further mitigation action is possible, but that despite this the risk remains high.
· FN046 – The Head of Finance advised that this risk had been inherited from the Environment and Planning Department twelve months ago. The mitigating actions had been the culture in which health and safety had been viewed within the Environment and Planning Department. Whilst there had been clear improvements through, for example, the formulation of action plans etc, there was still a need for continued improvement through ongoing work.
· A Member noted that the Re-shaping Services Programme was referenced a number of times in the Principal Risk Register and she queried if this was still in existence. The Head of Finance confirmed that whilst this was still an active programme there was a need to recognise ... view the full minutes text for item 26.
Additional Item of Business: Environment Enforcement Services in Wrexham
The Chair requested an update on the outcome of the Homes and Environment Scrutiny Committee deliberations on the Council’s environmental enforcement duties as this matter had been raised as a matter for scrutiny following the submission of a Topic Request Form by the Chair of the Audit Committee.
RESOLVED – To request that an update report be submitted to the Audit Committee in due course.