Agenda, decisions and minutes

Governance and Audit Committee
Thursday, 22nd April, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Remote Meeting

Items
No. Item

42.

CHAIRS OPENING REMARKS

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed the previous Chair of the Committee Councillor Johnson to the meeting. She reported that Councillor Johnson would not be standing as a Councillor in the Elections this time and thanked him for the valuable work he had undertaken on the Committee and his services as a Councillor and wished him all the best for the future.

 

 

43.

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:

No disclosures of interest in matters under consideration were received.

 

44.

MINUTES

Recommended –

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 March 2021 be signed as a correct record (previously circulated).

 

(Fatima Butt – 01274 432227)

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 March 2021 be signed as a correct record.

 

45.

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 appeals submitted by the public to review decisions to restrict

documents.

 

46.

FORMALISATION OF WELLBEING BOARD GOVERNANCE ARRANGEMENTS pdf icon PDF 242 KB

Prior to the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, a process was underway to reform the Health and Wellbeing Board, to become the Wellbeing Board, including associated changes to its membership, and focus.

 

The Strategic Director, Health and Wellbeing will submit Document “AM” which seeks approval for the formalisation of the Wellbeing Board governance arrangements.

 

Recommended-

 

That the Committee approves the changes to the name, membership and Role and Functions of the Board as detailed in Document “AM” and that the report be recommended to Council.

 

                                                                        (James Drury – 07970 479491)

                                                                       

Minutes:

Prior to the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, a process was underway to reform the Health and Wellbeing Board, to become the Wellbeing Board, including associated changes to its membership, and focus.

 

The Strategic Director, Health and Wellbeing submitted Document “AM” which sought approval for the formalisation of the Wellbeing Board governance arrangements.

 

Resolved-

 

That the changes to the name, membership and role and functions of the Board as detailed in Document “AM” be noted and that the report be recommended to Council for approval.

 

Action:  Strategic Director, Health and Wellbeing/City Solicitor

 

                                                           

47.

EXTERNAL AUDIT - AUDIT STRATEGY MEMORANDUM 2020-2021 pdf icon PDF 89 KB

The External Auditor will submit Document “AH” which sets out the plan for the external audit of the Council for the financial year 2020-2021.

 

Recommended –

 

That the Audit Strategy Memorandum 2020-2021 (Document “AH”) be considered and approved.

 

                                                            (Mark Outterside – 0191 3836300)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The External Auditor submitted Document “AH” which set out the plan for the external audit of the Council for the financial year 2020-2021. The document:

 

·         described External Audit’s approach to the audit of the Council’s financial statements;

·         included External Audit’s assessment of the significant risks of material misstatement in the financial statements; and

outlined the proposed testing strategy to address the identified risks.

 

The Audit Strategy Memorandum also sets out External Audit’s approach to the Value for Money work, sufficient to enable External Audit to form a conclusion as to whether the Council had made proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources.

 

In response to a Member’s query relating to fraudulent covid 19 business grant claims, the Director of Finance and IT reported that checks were in place to ensure that the business grants being applied for were legitimate and that  applications were appropriately scrutinised.

 

Resolved –

 

That the Audit Strategy Memorandum 2020-2021 (Document “AH”) was considered and approved.

 

                                                           

48.

EXTERNAL AUDIT PROGRESS REPORT pdf icon PDF 82 KB

The External Auditor will submit Document “AI” which provides the Committee with an update on progress in delivering their External Audit responsibilities in 2020/21.  The report also provides an update on non-audit assurance work completed in 2019/20 and summarises key national publications that might be of interest to Members.

 

Recommended –

 

That the report (Document “AI”) be considered and noted.

 

                                                            (Mark Outterside – 0191 3836300)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The External Auditor submitted Document “AI” which provided the Committee with an update on progress in delivering their External Audit responsibilities in 2020/21.  The report also provided an update on non-audit assurance work completed in 2019/20 and summarised key national publications that might be of interest to Members.

 

Members were informed that the necessary documents had now been received and the 2019/20 audit certificate would be issued shortly and that the 2019/20 Housing Benefit work was now close to completion. It was reported that work had already started on the 2020/21 Accounts Audit.

 

Resolved –

 

That the report (Document “AI”) was considered and noted.

 

                                                           

49.

COMPLAINTS PERFORMANCE AND ACTIVITY REPORT 2020-2021 pdf icon PDF 142 KB

The Director of Finance and IT will submit Document “AJ” which reports on the Council wide complaints performance and activity outcomes for the financial year ending 31 March 2021.

 

Recommended-

 

That the Committee notes the performance information contained within the report (Document “AJ”) and supports the ongoing improvement actions and that a progress report be submitted to the Committee in six months time.

 

                                                                        (Harry Singh – 01274 437256)

Minutes:

The Director of Finance and IT submitted Document “AJ” which reported on the Council wide complaints performance and activity outcomes for the financial year ending 31 March 2021.

 

Members commented on a number of issues on the contents of the report which included the mechanism of recording complaints on two systems (RESPOND and CIVICA); the need for all complaints to be captured; and training of staff to ensure they understood the difference between a complaint and a query - a policy was needed that made it clear.

 

It was reported that a comprehensive plan had been developed to ensure improvements were made in this area, which included having a corporate platform for recording all complaints; reviewing the complaint handling model, setting performance indicators, and introducing specialist advice and training.  It was reported recommendations for improvement were highlighted at paragraph 3.2 of the report.

 

The Director of Finance and IT reported that regular progress reports were being considered at Corporate Management Team to ensure progress was being made effectively.

 

Resolved-

 

That the Committee noted the performance information contained within the report (Document “AJ”) and supports the ongoing improvement actions and that a progress report be submitted to the Committee in six months’ time.

 

Action:  Director of Finance and IT

 

 

                                                                       

50.

INTERNAL AUDIT PLAN 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 256 KB

The Director of Finance and IT will submit Document “AK” which outlines the Internal Audit Plan for the financial year 2021/2022. The delivery of the audit plan will assist with risks within the systems reviewed being managed to an acceptable level through improvement in internal control.

 

Recommended –

 

That the Committee reviews and approves the Internal Audit Plan for 2021/2022 (Document “AK”).

 

                                                                        (Mark St Romaine – 01274 432888)

Minutes:

The Director of Finance and IT submitted Document “AK” which outlined the Internal Audit Plan for the financial year 2021/2022. The delivery of the audit plan would assist with risks within the systems reviewed being managed to an acceptable level through improvement in internal control.

 

Members sought clarification on the purchase of IT systems and utilisation of licences.

 

It was reported that one of the changes in the Contract Standing Orders was that any IT procured needed to be referred to the IT department.

 

Members were informed that Computer Audit Services were provided by Salford Council.

 

Resolved–

 

That the Committee reviewed and approved the Internal Audit Plan for 2021/2022 (Document “AK”).

 

Action:  Director of Finance and IT

 

                                               

 

51.

AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION - CONTRACT STANDING ORDERS AND FINANCIAL REGULATIONS pdf icon PDF 94 KB

The Strategic Director, Corporate Resources will submit Document “AL” which provides details of the annual review of the Financial Regulations and Contract Standing Orders sections of the Council’s Constitution and makes recommendations for their amendment.

 

Recommended-

 

That the proposed changes to Contract Standing Orders and Financial Regulations (detailed in Document “AL”) be accepted and recommended to Council for approval to support improvements in the organisation’s financial and procurement processes and procedures.

 

                                                            (Ian Westlake – 07971 540171)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

The Strategic Director, Corporate Resources submitted Document “AL” which provided details of the annual review of the Financial Regulations and Contract Standing Orders sections of the Council’s Constitution and made recommendations for their amendment.

 

Members made the following comments:

 

·         Why the definition Best Value for Money was now only Best Value?

·         EU Thresholds was now Thresholds – would monetary definition remain linked to EU currency equivalent.

·         Contracts of £2m and above should be reported to the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee – submitting reports to the relevant Committee for consideration in a timely manner was welcomed.

·         Overview and Scrutiny Committees could be provided with guidance as to the capacity in which such contracts were being considered as Scrutiny Committees did not have decision making powers in relation to them.

 

In response to Members’ questions it was reported that the removal of “for money” was on the advice of Legal Services to bring it in line with the Best Value duty; government legislation would give further clarity in 2022 in relation to thresholds for procurement; contracts of £2m and above should be submitted to the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee in a timely manner. 

 

It was suggested that it would be more appropriate if the consideration of contracts of £2m was undertaken by Executive who had decision making powers and would be subject to call-in.

 

Members of the Committee felt it was important that Overview and Scrutiny Committees continue to be informed of contracts of £2m and above.

 

It was reported that it might not serve any useful purpose for such contracts to be considered by the Executive, as Executive recommended the budget and  considered contracts in the context of projects and it might therefore be a duplication of consideration.

 

Resolved-

 

That the proposed changes to Contract Standing Orders and Financial Regulations (detailed in Document “AL”) be accepted and recommended to Council for approval to support improvements in the organisation’s financial and procurement processes and procedures.

 

Action:  Strategic Director, Corporate Services

 

                                                           

52.

REVIEW OF THE CONSTITUTION pdf icon PDF 86 KB

The City Solicitor will submit Document “AN” which provides Members with details of proposed amendments to the Constitution for recommendation to Council.

 

Recommended-

 

(1)          That the proposed amendments to the Constitution set out in Appendices 1-3 of Document “AN” be recommended to Council for adoption and implementation.

 

(2)          That the City Solicitor be granted delegated authority to make consequential amendments to the Constitution as a result of any recommendations approved by Council.

 

(3)          That the City Solicitor ensures that any agreed amendments are implemented.

 

(4)       That in view of the expiry of the remote meetings regulations at the beginning of May and the court challenge referred to in 2.4 above, authority be delegated to the City Solicitor in consultation with the Chair of this Committee to make any necessary amendments to Council Standing Orders to permit the Annual Meeting to take place safely.     

 

 

             (Michael Bowness/Linday Bailey – 01274 433541/078147 79093)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The City Solicitor submitted Document “AN” which provided Members with details of proposed amendments to the Constitution for recommendation to Council.

 

In response to a Member’s question it was confirmed that the quorum of the Bradford District Appeals Panel would be 3 Members which included the Chair or Vice Chair and two other Members from the list of 12.

 

Resolved-

 

(1)          That the proposed amendments to the Constitution set out in Appendices 1-3 of Document “AN” be recommended to Council for adoption and implementation subject to the inclusion that each District Appeals Panel will comprise of three Members.

 

(2)          That the City Solicitor be granted delegated authority to make consequential amendments to the Constitution as a result of any recommendations approved by Council.

 

(3)          That the City Solicitor ensures that any agreed amendments are implemented.

 

(4)       That in view of the expiry of the remote meetings regulations at the beginning of May and the court challenge referred to in 2.4 of the report, authority be delegated to the City Solicitor in consultation with the Chair of this Committee to make any necessary amendments to Council Standing Orders to permit the Annual Meeting to take place safely.  

 

Action:  City Solicitor