Agenda and minutes

Audit Committee - Wednesday, 20th July, 2022 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services  0161 474 3216

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 231 KB

To approve as a correct record and sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 16 March 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes (copies of which had been circulated) of the meeting held on 16 March 2022 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors and officers to declare any interests which they have in any of the items on the agenda for the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors and officers were invited to declare any interests they had in any of the items on the agenda for the meeting.

 

No declarations of interest were made.

3.

Urgent Decisions

To report any urgent action taken under the Constitution since the last meeting of the Committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No urgent decisions were reported.

4.

Public Question Time

Members of the public are invited to put questions to the Chair on any matters within the powers and duties of the Committee, subject to the exclusions set out in the Code of Practice.  (Questions must be submitted prior to the commencement of the meetingon the card provided.  These are available at the meeting. You can also submit via the Council’s website at www.stockport.gov.uk/publicquestions).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members of the public were invited to put questions to the Chair on any matters within the powers and duties of the Area Committee, subject to the exclusions set out in the Code of Practice.

 

No public questions were submitted.

5.

Annual Governance Statement 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 127 KB

To consider a report of the Corporate Governance Group.

 

The report details the draft version of the Council’s Annual Governance Statement (AGS) for 2021/22. The final AGS has been considered by Corporate Leadership Team and the Corporate Governance Group and, provided there has been no material change in governance issues, will be issued as final alongside the Annual Statement of Accounts in September.

 

The Committee is recommended to give approval the Annual Governance Statement prior to signing by the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive.

 

Officer Contact: John Pearsall on 0161 474 4033 or email: john.pearsall@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the Corporate Governance Group submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) which detailed the draft version of the Council’s Annual Governance Statement (AGS) for 2021/22. The final AGS had been considered by Corporate Leadership Team and the Corporate Governance Group and, provided there were no material change in governance issues, would be issued as final alongside the Annual Statement of Accounts in September.

 

The following comments were made/issues raised:

 

·         The Chair of Audit Committee that the information on page 14 of the report relating to ‘what is governance’ was very well written and accessible.

·         In response to a Member question relating to whistleblowing, the Committee was informed that there was a very clear Whistleblowing policy in place.  It was agreed that a link to the whistleblowing policy would be placed on the Council’s website before the Statement was issued in September.  It was important to foster a culture that allowed people to make whistleblowing allegations and be confident in the knowledge that they would be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.  The whistleblowing policy also formed part of the Council’s Constitution.

·         In response to a Member question relating to corporate business continuity, the Committee was advised that real time rehearsals of potential emergencies or disasters did take place regularly.  As an example a rehearsal had taken place recently relating to cyber security.  Following these rehearsals a process of learning takes place and steps can be streamlined to make them more efficient.  Policies are regularly updated to enable continuous improvement.

 

RESOLVED – (i) That the report be noted.

(ii) That approval be given to the Annual Governance Statement prior to signing by the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive.

 

 

 

 

 

6.

Internal Audit Progress Report 1 (February to June 2022) pdf icon PDF 25 KB

To consider a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer).

 

The report sets out the progress made by internal audit against the Risk Based Internal Audit Plan originally approved by the Audit Committee in March 2022.

 

The Committee is recommended to note the report.

 

Officer Contact: John Pearsall on 0161 474 4033 or email: john.pearsall@stockport.gov.uk.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer) submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) which set out the progress made by internal audit against the Risk Based Internal Audit Plan originally approved by the Audit Committee in March 2022.

 

The following comments were made/issue raised:

 

·         Members asked what the situation was in relation to staffing in the Audit team.  In response, Members were advised that there were two vacancies currently which had been advertised and it was hoped that these would be filled by September.  Challenges did exist in relation to staffing but the team remained resilient.

·         Members wanted to know whether there was a policy of rotating people within the whole accounting team as it was felt that this offered multiple benefits? In response, the Committee was advised that apprentices were offered a broad range of experience and in addition, the audit team worked very closely with colleagues in other sectors and schools.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

 

7.

Annual Head of Internal Audit Opinion and Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 142 KB

To consider a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer).

 

It is a requirement of the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) that the Head of Internal Audit, Risk and Insurance prepares an annual report containing an overall opinion on the Council’s control framework. 

 

The attached report (appendix 3) contains this statement and details the audit work undertaken in the year from which the overall opinion has been drawn.

 

The Committee is recommended to note the report.

 

Officer Contact: John Pearsall on 0161 474 4033 or email: john.pearsall@stockport.gov.uk.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer) submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) which advised the Committee that it is a requirement of the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) that the Head of Internal Audit, Risk and Insurance prepares an annual report containing an overall opinion on the Council’s control framework. The report (appendix 3) contained this statement and detailed the audit work undertaken in the year from which the overall opinion had been drawn.

 

The following comments were made/issues raised:

 

·         A short discussion took place on the latest position in relation to business support groups.

·         Members raised the issue of fraudulent debt monies and how these were recovered and pursued.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

 

 

8.

Annual Anti-Fraud, Bribery and Corruption Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

To consider a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer).

 

The purpose of this report is to present the work carried out during the past year to minimise the risk of fraud, bribery and corruption occurring in the Council. This supports the requirements of the Accounts and Audit Regulations (England) 2011, which state that the Council must have measures in place “to enable the prevention and detection of inaccuracies and fraud.” In this context, we have taken fraud also to refer to cases of bribery and corruption.

 

The Committee is recommended to note the report.

 

Officer Contact: John Pearsall on 0161 474 4033 or email: john.pearsall@stockport.gov.uk.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer) submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) which presented details of the work carried out during the past year to minimise the risk of fraud, bribery and corruption occurring in the Council. This supports the requirements of the Accounts and Audit Regulations (England) 2011, which state that the Council must have measures in place “to enable the prevention and detection of inaccuracies and fraud.” In this context, we have taken fraud also to refer to cases of bribery and corruption.

 

The following comments were made/issues raised:

 

·         Members raised the issue of the counterfraud service and where the staff in this team had moved from and whether the team remained fully staffed.  In response, Members were advised on the position relating to counterfraud and how it was staffed.  The posts that were currently being advertised would be responsible for carrying out some counterfraud work.  The Audit team bought in the services of a dedicated IT auditor.  It was difficult to estimate how much work would need to be carried out in the counterfraud sector and so the challenge was to ensure that resources were in the right place at the right time.  The audit team had been involved in seven different investigations in the past year and there had been the flexibility within the team to deal with these.

·         Members raised the issue of communicating to residents and Member when fraudulent activities had been detected.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

 

 

 

9.

School Summary Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 27 KB

To consider a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer).

 

The aim of this report (Appendix 5) is to communicate to all stakeholders the key and recurring issues, risks and subsequent recommendations made from the  internal audits of schools undertaken in 2021/22. 

 

The Committee is recommended to note the report.

 

Officer Contact: John Pearsall on Tel: 0161 474 4033 or email: john.pearsall@stockport.gov.uk.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer) submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) which aimed to communicate to all stakeholders the key and recurring issues, risks and subsequent recommendations made from the internal audits of schools undertaken in 2021/22. 

 

The following comments were made/issues raised:

 

·         Members commented that the report unearthed systemic trends that were taking place within schools.  The report enabled schools to get on board with good practice as soon as possible.

·         Following a Member question, the Committee was advised that schools were aware that they could contact the audit team at any time for answers to queries and advice.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

10.

Annual Report of the Chair of the Audit Committee 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To consider a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer).

 

The CIPFA best practice publication ‘A Toolkit for Local Authority Audit Committees’ recommends that an Annual Report is prepared by the Chair of the Audit Committee.

 

The aim of the report (appendix 6) is to:-

 

·         demonstrate how the Audit Committee has fulfilled its terms of reference during the financial year and how it is fully committed to helping to improve the Council’s governance and control environments during the year ahead.

·         outline how the committee’s activities during the financial year are designed to make a positive contribution to the continual improvement of governance arrangements across the Council, as well as performing the statutory roles as identified in the Constitution

 

The Committee is recommended to note the report.

 

Officer Contact: John Pearsall on 0161 474 4033 or email: john.pearsall@stockport.gov.uk.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer) submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated).

 

The CIPFA best practice publication ‘A Toolkit for Local Authority Audit Committees’ recommends that an Annual Report is prepared by the Chair of the Audit Committee.

 

The report (appendix 6) aimed to:-

 

·         demonstrate how the Audit Committee had fulfilled its terms of reference during the financial year and how it is fully committed to helping to improve the Council’s governance and control environments during the year ahead.

·         outline how the committee’s activities during the financial year were designed to make a positive contribution to the continual improvement of governance arrangements across the Council, as well as performing the statutory roles as identified in the Constitution.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

 

11.

Government Response to Local Audit Framework pdf icon PDF 141 KB

To consider a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer).

 

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has recently consulted on the following proposals as part of the government’s response to the Redmond Review:

 

·         A new system leader for the local audit framework.

·         Proposals to strengthen audit committee arrangements within councils.

·         Measures to address ongoing capacity issues on the pipeline of local auditors.

·         Action to further consider local audit functions for smaller bodies.

 

The attached document summarises the responses to the government’s local audit framework: technical consultation and sets out a series of measures to strengthen the local audit framework.

 

The Committee is recommended to note the report.

 

Officer Contact: John Pearsall on 0161 474 4033 or email: john.pearsall@stockport.gov.uk.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer) submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated).

 

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government had recently consulted on the following proposals as part of the government’s response to the Redmond Review:

 

·         A new system leader for the local audit framework.

·         Proposals to strengthen audit committee arrangements within councils.

·         Measures to address ongoing capacity issues on the pipeline of local auditors.

·         Action to further consider local audit functions for smaller bodies.

 

The report summarised the responses to the government’s local audit framework: technical consultation and sets out a series of measures to strengthen the local audit framework.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

 

12.

Corporate Risk Register Update 1 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 227 KB

To consider a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer).

 

The Corporate Risk Register (CRR) (appendix 7) was last updated and distributed to Audit Committee on the 16th March 2022.  

 

The CRR reflects the changes to the Council’s overall risk profile.

 

The Committee is recommended to note the report.

 

Officer Contact: John Pearsall on 0161 474 4033 or email: john.pearsall@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the Deputy Chief Executive (and Section 151 Officer) submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated).

 

The Corporate Risk Register (CRR) (appendix 7) was last updated and distributed to Audit Committee on the 16th March 2022.  

 

The CRR reflects the changes to the Council’s overall risk profile

 

The following comments were made/issues raised:

 

·         Members asked whether in future they could be shown where the risk has changed for better or worse.  It was agreed that this would prove useful.

·         A short discussion took place relating to the Local Government Settlement.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

13.

Mazars Progress Report pdf icon PDF 390 KB

To consider a report of the external auditors, Mazars.

 

This report provides the Audit Committee with an update on progress in delivering our responsibilities as your external auditors. It also includes, at Section 2, a summary of recent national reports and publications for your information.

 

The Committee is recommended to note the report.

 

Officer contact: John Pearsall on 474 4033 or email: john.pearsall@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the external auditors, Mazars submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) which provided the Audit Committee with an update on progress in delivering our responsibilities as your external auditors. It also includes, at Section 2, a summary of recent national reports and publications for your information.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.