Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Audit Committee (ceased to operate 21/05/2019) Minutes

Date:
Monday, 25th June, 2012
Time:
04.00 p.m.
Place:
Second Floor Conference Room, Municipal Buildings, Chruch Road, Stockton on Tees, TS18 1LD
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Cllr Barry Woodhouse (Chairman); Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Ben Houchen, Cllr Ross Patterson, Cllr Mrs Sylvia Walmsley, Cllr David Wilburn,
Officers:
P Johnson, D MacDonald, P Saunders, S Winship (R); D Kitching (DNS); M Henderson (LD)
In Attendance:
No other persons were present
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Derrick Brown
Item Description Decision
Public
A
1/12
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
A
2/12
MINUTES
 
A
3/12
EXTERNAL AUDIT - PROGRESS REPORT
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
A
4/12
REVIEW OF INTERNAL AUDIT SERVICE
RESOLVED that a mid-year review be undertaken and reported to the Corporate Governance Group and to the Audit Committee regarding actual performance against planned productive audit days, highlighting any resulting changes to the audit for 2012/13.
A
5/12
INTERNAL AUDIT ANNUAL REPORT
RESOLVED that the report of performance be noted.
A
6/12
HEALTH & SAFETY ANNUAL REPORT
RESOLVED that:

1. The report be noted.

2. Members accepted the proposed continuing course of action contained in the Health and Safety Unit Service Plan 2012-2013.
A
7/12
ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT 2011/12
RESOLVED that the Annual Governance Statement for 2011/12 be noted.
A
8/12
UPDATE OF ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENTS - TO BE TABLED
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
A
9/12
CORPORATE RISK REGISTER AND ANNUAL RISK MANAGEMENT REPORT
RESOLVED that the report be approved.
A
10/12
TREASURY MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
A
11/12
WORK PROGRAMME 2012/13
RESOLVED that the work programme be approved.
4.00 - 5.00pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
A
1/12
There were no declarations of interest.
A
2/12
The minutes of the meeting held on 27th February 2012 were confirmed and signed by the Chair as a correct record.
A
3/12
Members considered an update report on the progress in delivering the Audit Commissions responsibilities as the Council's external auditors.

The report also highlighted key emerging national issues and developments.
A
4/12
It was explained that, in accordance with the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2011, an internal review of the Internal Audit service was carried out.

The review had again been conducted under the auspices of the Corporate Governance Group. Two members of the Group had reviewed evidence and had formulated conclusions, findings and recommendations regarding the service.

The process had involved the following:-

• Detailed consideration of the previous report, conclusions and recommendations
• A further assessment of the service against CIPFA's Code of Practice for Internal Audit Checklist and a review of evidence to support relevant outcomes within the checklist.
• An interview with the Financial Planning and Audit Manager
• Consideration of the Annual Governance Report and Quarterly Internal Audit progress Reports
• Customer feedback information

Members noted that there had been a reduction in Internal Audit staff as a result of (EIT) service reviews. By, for instance, reallocating resources and making more effective use of auditor's time, it had been possible to meet the service's planning objectives. This would need to be monitored very carefully and the need for additional resources in the future could not be ruled out. This gaves rise to the review's only recommendation, which was that there should be a mid year report on actual performance against planned audit days, with a review of any resulting changes to the audit plan for the new Municipal year.

Officers who undertook the review advised that the evidence and views received demonstrated that the Internal Audit Service had satisfactory and appropriate arrangements and procedures in place in order to fulfil its duties and that it had continued to build on its performance and reputation notwithstanding a reduction in resources during 2011/12.
A
5/12
Members were provided with a report of the work carried out by the Internal Audit Section and the progress made in quarter 4 against the audit plan for 2011/12.

The Committee was provided with appendices that showed:

- Key Performance Indicators
- Details of audits by Service Groupings
Lists of audits completed for quarter 4 and currently on going

Mmebers considered the information and asked a number of questions. The Committee noted that, with regard to Pool Car Management, a new system had been implemented and would be audited in 2012/13.
A
6/12
Members were provided with a report which detailed the services provided by the Council's Health and Safety Unit to improve the health, safety and well-being control environment during the financial year 2011 - 12.

Members were advised on the purpose of the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the role of the Health and Safety Manager.

Members were provided with details, including outcomes, of activities undertaken to further improve the workplace control environment, by the Health and Safety Section in the fiscal year 2011 - 12. Those activities included:

- Improvements made to the Workplace Control Environment
- Health and Safety Audits, Inspections and Recommendations
- Sub-Contractors Safety Policy Appraisals
- Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007
- Raising Workforce Competence
- Educational Visits Adviser - School's Residential & Adventure
Activity Appraisals.
- Event Safety Management
- Involvement With External Organisations
- Continuous Professional Development
- Reported Accidents
- Reported Assaults
- Employee Protection Register
- Health and Safety Policy Target Progress
- Transport Risk Management Group
- Benchmarking within the North Eastern Region
- Issues for the year ahead post the Lofstedt review ( Nov 2011)
- The HSE's Local Authority Intervention plan 2012/13 to 2014/15
- Health and Safety Unit Service Plan 2012 / 2013

The Health and Safety Enit's service plan was provided as an appendix to the report.
A
7/12
Members received a report, which presented the Council's Annual Governance Statement for 2011/12.

The Accounts and Audit (Amended) Regulations 2011 required all authorities in England to conduct a review at least once a year of the effectiveness of its governance framework and produce an Annual Governance Statement to accompany its Statement of Accounts. The deadline for completion of the Statement of Accounts for 2011/12 was 30th June 2012 at which point they were subject to the external audit process.

The audited Statement of Accounts and the Annual Governance Statement would be presented for approval to this Committee on the 24th September, 2012.

A further requirement of the regulations stated that the Statement should be signed by the Chief Executive and the leading Member of the Council, following approval by the Committee. A key objective of this signing off process was to secure corporate ownership of the statement's contents.

The Annual Governance Statement included an acknowledgement of responsibility for ensuring that proper arrangements were in place around the governance of its affairs and an indication of the level of assurance that the system provided. The statement also included a description of the key elements forming the governance framework, a description of the process applied in reviewing the effectiveness of this framework, including the system of internal control, and an outline of the actions taken or, proposed to be taken, to deal with significant governance issues.

It was explained that, at this time, the Council had not identified any significant issues that were not being addressed within the Statement.

Officers reported on the governance framework and control environment in place within the Council that enabled the detailed preparation of the statement.

The Audit Commission, Stockton Borough Councils external auditors, had been consulted on the process and the identification of key governance issues.
A
8/12
Members considered an update report on the Council's Statement of Accounts for 2011/12.

The completion of the accounts by 30th June 2012 were on target and would be passed to the auditors by that date.

Members were advised that the Accounts and Audit Regulations had changed the process for approving the Statement of Accounts last year. Members were now required to approve the accounts after the audit had been completed and by 30th September.

Members were provided with the main accounting statements, which were provided to give members an insight into the main issues that were contained in the accounts. Members were also provided with key financial issues that were included in the accounts.

The completed accounts would be passed to the external auditor on 29th June 2012 and the statutory audit would formally commence on 9th July 2012. The audited accounts would be presented to Members for their approval at its meeting on 24th September 2012.
A
9/12
Members were provided with the Corporate Risk Register and Annual Risk Management Report 2011/12.

The Annual report provided details of risk management activity that had taken place over the previous 12 months. It also outlined risk management policies and practices in place and the key issues that would be addressed in the next financial year. Additionally the report provided the latest version of the Corporate Risk Register with amendments made over the final quarter of the year ending 31st March 2012.

Members were informed of progress related to the risk strategy during the year 2011/12, these included:

-External Assessments
-Benchmarking
-Internal Assessments
-Risk Management Profiling System
-Partnership and Project Management Risks
-Project Risk Management
-Cleveland Local Resilience Forum
-Risk Financing and Claims Management
-Self-Insurance Provision and Reserves

Other on-going strategic and operational activities included:

-Risk Registers
-School Risk Management
-Annual Governance Statement
-Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy
-Business Continuity Plans
-Motor Fleet Risk management Review
-Funding for Risk Management Initiatives

The key issues for 2011/12 and beyond included:

-The Risk Landscape - potential impact on the Authority
-Future Insurance Costs
-Self-retained liability claims handling
-Partnership and Procurement Risk Management

Performance Indicators and a copy of the Corporate Risk Register were attached to the report for Members information. Members noted the risk issues and the risk identification and assessment and the proposed risk management arrangements.
A
10/12
Members were provided with an update of the practical implementation, in year, of the Treasury Management Strategy, approved by Council in February 2011.

The year-end out-turn on investment performance for 2011/12 had been completed and Members were advised that the return was well above the set target. In addition Stockton had participated in the CIPFA Treasury Management Benchmarking exercise. The exercise evidenced that Stockton received good value for money from treasury management.

Members were updated on Bank performance and continued concerns in the Eurozone.
A
11/12
Consideration was given to the work programme 2012/13.

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