Agenda, decisions and minutes

Governance and Audit Committee
Thursday, 25th January, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Committee Room 3 - City Hall, Bradford. View directions

Contact: Fatima Butt - 01274 432227 

Items
No. Item

32.

DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST

(Members Code of Conduct - Part 4A of the Constitution)

 

To receive disclosures of interests from members and co-opted members on matters to be considered at the meeting. The disclosure must include the nature of the interest.

 

An interest must also be disclosed in the meeting when it becomes apparent to the member during the meeting.

 

Notes:

 

(1)       Members may remain in the meeting and take part fully in discussion and voting unless the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an interest which the Member feels would call into question their compliance with the wider principles set out in the Code of Conduct.  Disclosable pecuniary interests relate to the Member concerned or their spouse/partner.

 

(2)       Members in arrears of Council Tax by more than two months must not vote in decisions on, or which might affect, budget calculations, and must disclose at the meeting that this restriction applies to them.  A failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence under section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. 

 

(3)       Members are also welcome to disclose interests which are not disclosable pecuniary interests but which they consider should be made in the interest of clarity.

 

(4)       Officers must disclose interests in accordance with Council Standing Order 44.

 

Minutes:

In the interest of transparency all those who were Members of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund disclosed an interest.

 

Action:            City Solicitor

 

33.

MINUTES

Recommended –

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2017 be signed as a correct record (previously circulated).

 

(Fatima Butt – 01274 432227)

Minutes:

Resolved-

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2017 be signed as a correct record.

 

34.

INSPECTION OF REPORTS AND BACKGROUND PAPERS

(Access to Information Procedure Rules – Part 3B of the Constitution)

 

Reports and background papers for agenda items may be inspected by contacting the person shown after each agenda item.  Certain reports and background papers may be restricted. 

 

Any request to remove the restriction on a report or background paper should be made to the relevant Strategic Director or Assistant Director whose name is shown on the front page of the report. 

 

If that request is refused, there is a right of appeal to this meeting. 

 

Please contact the officer shown below in advance of the meeting if you wish to appeal. 

 

(Fatima Butt - 01274 432227)

 

Minutes:

There were no requests made to inspect background papers.

 

35.

REGULATION OF INVESTIGATORY POWERS ACT 2000 (RIPA) - LEVEL OF USE (QUARTERLY REVIEW) pdf icon PDF 215 KB

Previous Reference: Minute 7 (2017/18)

 

The City Solicitor will submit Document “U” which provides information relating to:

·         The number of authorised and approved covert surveillance operations by the Council for the periods 1st April to 30th June, 1st July to 30th September and 1st October to 31st December 2017.

·         The Councils uses of covert surveillance by its own officers or the use of its CCTV equipment by the Police or Department of Work and Pensions must be lawfully authorised.

Recommended-

(1)       That the report be noted.

(2)       That the Councils continued compliance with RIPA be noted.

 

                                                            (Richard Winter – 01274 434292)

 

 

Minutes:

Previous Reference: Minute 7 (2017/18)

 

The City Solicitor submitted Document “U” which provided information relating to:

 

·         The number of authorised and approved covert surveillance operations by the Council for the periods 1st April to 30th June, 1st July to 30th September and 1st October to 31st December 2017.

·         The Council’s uses of covert surveillance by its own officers or the use of its CCTV equipment by the Police or Department of Work and Pensions must be lawfully authorised.

It was reported that the returns for Quarter 1 (1st April to 30th June) and Quarter 2 (1st July to 30th September) and Quarter3 (1st October to 31st December 2017) showed a nil return for all relevant departments indicating that the services investigators were able to obtain evidence without the need for covert surveillance.

In response to a Members question it was reported that covert surveillance by a local authority could only be used to investigate criminal offences which carried a penalty of more than six months imprisonment.

Resolved-

 

(1)          That the report be noted.

(2)        That the Councils continued compliance with RIPA be noted.

 

                                                           

 

 

36.

WEST YORKSHIRE COMBINED AUTHORITY (WYCA) AND LEEDS CITY REGION ENTERPRISE PARTNERSHIP (LEP): UPDATE REPORT pdf icon PDF 335 KB

Previous Reference:           Minute 43 (2016/17)

 

The Strategic Director, Place will submit Document “V” which provides an update on the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) governance, reporting and involvement of Bradford Council. Key strategies, plans, investment and influence are developed with and through these partnership organisations that support key regeneration and transport services as well as inclusive economic growth, well-being and resilience of Bradford District.

 

Recommended-

 

That the report be noted and further updates be submitted to the Committee on an exception basis.

 

                                                                        (Jamie Saunders – 01274 434123)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Previous Reference:           Minute 43 (2016/17)

 

The Strategic Director, Place submitted Document “V” which provided an update on the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) governance, reporting and involvement of Bradford Council. Key strategies, plans, investment and influence were developed with and through these partnership organisations that supported key regeneration and transport services as well as inclusive economic growth, well-being and resilience of Bradford District.

 

It was reported that the WYCA/LEP were working hard to be a role model for local government partnership with robust transparency, openness and accountability; significance governance changes were implemented in September 2017.

 

In response to a Member’s question on accessibility of information on the work of the WYCA and involvement of Members it was reported that significance progress had been made in the last 12 months which included:

 

·         A joint scrutiny of WYCA/LEP was held in October 2017

·         All panels were now subject to the access to information statutory provisions, requiring agendas and reports to be published 5 clear days before the meeting, and meetings to be open to the public except when a confidential item was being considered.

·         Dedicated sessions/briefings were held for political groups.

·         Improvements were on going to involve more members in the work of the WYCA.

 

Resolved-

 

That the report be noted and further updates be submitted to the Committee on an exception basis.

 

Action:           Strategic Director, Place

 

                                                           

 

37.

MINUTES OF WEST YORKSHIRE PENSION FUND (WYPF) PENSION BOARD HELD ON 8 NOVEMBER 2017 pdf icon PDF 17 KB

The Council’s Financial Regulations require the minutes of meetings of the WYPF be submitted to this Committee.

 

In accordance with the above the Director of West Yorkshire Pension Fund will submit Document “W” which reports on the minutes of the meeting of the WYPF Pension Board held on 8 November 2017.

 

Recommended-

 

That the minutes of the WYPF Pension Board held on 8 November 2017 be considered.

 

                                                            (Caroline Blackburn – 01274 434523)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council’s Financial Regulations required the minutes of meetings of the WYPF be submitted to this Committee.

 

In accordance with the above the Director of West Yorkshire Pension Fund  submitted Document “W” which reported on the minutes of the meeting of the WYPF Pension Board held on 8 November 2017.

 

The Head of Internal Audit reported that he would provide information to Members on their query on the type of Pension Liability Claims that could occur.

 

In response to Members’ questions it was reported that the meetings of the Pension Board were always quorate and Membership arrangements were working well. The issue of non attendance of the Wakefield Metropolitan District Council Member had been resolved.

 

Resolved-

 

That the minutes of the WYPF Pension Board held on 8 November 2017 were considered.

 

                                               

 

38.

BUDGET SAVINGS TO BE ACHIEVED IN LEGAL AND DEMOCRATIC SERVICES IN 2018/19 - PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE CONSTITUTION pdf icon PDF 216 KB

The City Solicitor will submit Document “X” which provides Members with details of changes that could be made to the Constitution, by combining the Regeneration and Economy and Environment and Waste Management Overview and Scrutiny Committees, for recommendation to Council if approved.  The changes arise from the need to make savings in the budget of Legal and Democratic Services for 2018/19.

 

Recommended-

 

That the Committee consider the suggested changes to the Constitution as described in the report. If the Committee wish to recommend adoption of the merger of the Committees it will form a recommendation to Council as an amendment to the Constitution.

 

                                                            (Michael Bowness – 01274 435928)

Minutes:

The City Solicitor submitted Document “X” which provided Members with details of changes that could be made to the Constitution, by combining the Regeneration and Economy and Environment and Waste Management Overview and Scrutiny Committees, for recommendation to Council if approved.  The changes arose from the need to make savings in the budget of Legal and Democratic Services for 2018/19.

 

The Chair of the Environment and Waste Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee attended the meeting and spoke about the concerns he had about the two committee’s merging which included that:

 

·         The Environment and Waste Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee had an extremely heavy workload; there were a number of items that still needed to be scheduled in.

·         Concerned that items would get missed if the Committees were combined.

·         There was no overlap in the work of the two Committees.

·         Alternative methods of Scrutiny were already being undertaken by Environment and Waste Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

A Member of the Committee acknowledged the concerns raised by the Chair of the Environment  and Waste Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee and spoke about the success of the merger of the Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committees.  She also reported that there was an overlap with Health and Social Care and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committees who recently had a joint meeting. She asked the Interim City Solicitor on whether he could give an assurance that the merger of the two Committees would be successful.

 

In response the Interim City Solicitor reported that the Chair of the newly formed Committee would need to liaise with portfolio holders and become more proactive in linking priorities with the Council’s Corporate Plan, helping scrutiny to become proactive rather than reactive; looking at policies before they are submitted to Executive would be one example. As well as looking at other inquiry methods to support and add value to the scrutiny process rather than being tied in formal Committees.

 

A Member stressed that the heavy workload of the Committees had to be managed but it was vital to look at the quality of scrutiny rather than the number of Committees.

 

Concerns were raised by a Member about the merger of the two Committees and how the workload of Environment and Waste Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee would be managed.

 

 

 

 

 

The Chair emphasised that the proposed merger of the Committees was an opportunity for the Council to do things differently and start prioritising work programmes. His observation of the Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee was that it had not changed from the old Committee Structure and took reports on everything rather than prioritising; there was a culture within scrutiny of taking regular progress reports; the Council had less resources and things had to be undertaken differently and had to work smarter.

 

The Chair asked the Interim City Solicitor whether senior officers would be providing advice and support to the Chairs of Overview and Scrutiny Committees and Scrutiny Leads on doing things differently, such  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.

39.

EXTERNAL AUDIT PROGRESS REPORT pdf icon PDF 111 KB

The External Auditor will submit Document “Y” which reports that External Audit have starting planning the 2017/18 audit of the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.

The Auditor will present the Audit Strategy Memorandum to the March 2018 meeting of the Committee. This will set out the significant risks that have been identified for the audit of the Council’s statement of accounts and the value for money conclusion and the wider approach to the audit.

As part of the audit, External Audit need to understand how the Governance and Audit Committee, as those charged with governance, gains assurance over management processes and arrangements:

·         to prevent and detect fraud; and

·         to comply with applicable law and regulations.

In the progress report, External Audit ask some questions about these arrangements and request if the Committee could provide a response by the end of March 2018.

The report also highlights the 2017/18 ‘Financial Reporting Workshops’ and emerging issues and developments which may be of interest to Members of the Committee.

 

Recommended-

 

(1)       That the External Audit Progress Report (Document “Y”) be considered.

 

(2)       That a response is provided to External Audit by the end of March 2018 to questions about arrangements to prevent and detect fraud to comply with applicable law and regulations.

 

                                                                        (Mark Dalton – 0113 387 8735)

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

The External Auditor submitted Document “Y” which reported that External Audit had starting planning the 2017/18 audit of the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.

The Auditor would present the Audit Strategy Memorandum to the March 2018 meeting of the Committee. This would set out the significant risks that had been identified for the audit of the Council’s statement of accounts and the value for money conclusion and the wider approach to the audit.

As part of the audit, External Audit needed to understand how the Governance and Audit Committee, as those charged with governance, gained assurance over management processes and arrangements:

·         to prevent and detect fraud; and

·         to comply with applicable law and regulations.

In the progress report, External Audit asks some questions about these arrangements and request if the Committee could provide a response by the end of March 2018.

The report also highlighted the 2017/18 ‘Financial Reporting Workshops’ and emerging issues and developments which may be of interest to Members of the Committee.

 

Resolved-

 

(1)       That the External Audit Progress Report (Document “Y”) was considered.

 

(2)       That a response be provided to External Audit by the end of March 2018 to questions about arrangements to prevent and detect fraud to comply with applicable law and regulations.

 

Action:           Strategic Director, Corporate Services

 

                                               

 

40.

CERTIFICATION OF GRANTS REPORT 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 94 KB

The External Audit Letter (Document “Z”) summarises the results of the External Auditor’s certification work on grant claims and returns within the Public Sector Audit Appointment’s grant regime for 2016/17.

 

Recommended-

 

That the results of the certification work on grant claims for 2016/17 be considered.

 

                                                            (Mark Dalton – 0113 387 8735)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

The External Audit Letter (Document “Z”) summarised the results of the External Auditor’s certification work on grant claims and returns within the Public Sector Audit Appointment’s grant regime for 2016/17.

 

It was reported that the Council’s 2016/17 return was amended and was subject to a qualification letter.  The value of the claim was amended by £9.00 (from £171,297,820 to £171,297,811). 

 

Members were informed that initial testing of cases carried out by External Audit had identified one case where rent had been input incorrectly resulting in underpaid benefit of £0.18. As a result of this finding, an additional sample of 40 cases were subject to testing, within which one further error was identified.  This error had resulted in benefit being overpaid by £11.00.

 

A Member queried whether an error of 18 pence resulting in additional sampling of 40 cases was a cost effective exercise.

 

In response the External Auditor reported appropriate guidance had to be followed even for small errors such as this.

 

Resolved-

 

That the results of the certification work on grant claims for 2016/17 was considered.

 

                                                           

41.

ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 259 KB

Previous Reference:           Minute 9 (2017/18)

 

The Director of Finance will submit Document “AA” which updates Members on the progress and improvements being made in addressing those significant governance concerns reported in the Council’s Annual Governance Statement 2016/17.

 

Recommended-

 

(1)       That the information contained in Document “AA” and the progress made in addressing the significant governance challenges be reviewed.

 

(2)       That the further actions planned be endorsed.

 

(3)       That officers and Members be alerted to any emerging governance concerns requiring review during the 2017-18 process.

 

                                                            (Mark St Romaine – 01274 432800)

Minutes:

Previous Reference:           Minute 9 (2017/18)

 

The Director of Finance submitted Document “AA” which updated Members on the progress and improvements being made in addressing those significant governance concerns reported in the Council’s Annual Governance Statement 2016/17.

 

There was a short discussion on the handling of objections, resistance and disagreement to the implementation of decisions that had already been taken, through the budget process.

 

The Chair emphasised the importance of ensuring good project management and good communication when consulting on any changes proposed.

 

Resolved-

 

(1)       That the information contained in Document “AA” and the progress made in addressing the significant governance challenges be reviewed.

 

(2)       That the further actions planned be endorsed.

 

(3)       That officers and Members be alerted to any emerging governance concerns requiring review during the 2017-18 process.

 

Action:           Strategic Director, Corporate Services

 

                                                           

42.

INTERNAL AUDIT PLAN 2017/18 - UPDATE ON COMPLETION OF INTERNAL AUDIT RECOMMENDATIONS

Previous Reference:           Minute 30 (2017/18)

 

Members are reminded that this Committee at its meeting held on 30 November 2017 considered a report (Document “S”) which detailed the progress made by Internal Audit against the Internal Audit Plan for 2017/18.

 

Strong concerns were expressed on the outstanding completion of internal audit recommendations and the Committee resolved:

 

That the Strategic Director, Corporate Services reports the concerns highlighted by this Committee in relation to the completion of Internal Audit Recommendations relating to Children’s Services and Health and Wellbeing to the Corporate Management Team and that an update on the issue be provided to the Committee at its meeting in January 2018.

 

In accordance with the above a verbal update will be provided to the Committee.

 

                                                            (Mark St Romaine – 01274 432800)

Minutes:

Members were reminded that this Committee at its meeting held on 30 November 2017 considered a report (Document “S”) which detailed the progress made by Internal Audit against the Internal Audit Plan for 2017/18.

 

Strong concerns were expressed on the outstanding completion of internal audit recommendations and the Committee resolved:

 

That Strategic Director, Corporate Services reports the concerns highlighted by this Committee in relation to the completion of Internal Audit Recommendations relating to, Children’s Services and Health and Wellbeing to the Corporate Management Team and that an update on the issue be provided to the Committee at its meeting in January 2018.

 

In accordance with the above a verbal update was provided to the Committee and it was reported that satisfactory responses had been received from both departments.

 

No resolution was passed on this item.

43.

CHAIRS REMARKS

Minutes:

Members thanked Stuart McKinnon-Evans for the valuable support he had provided to the Committee and wished him all the best on his new role at the University of Bradford.