Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document
Meeting of the Council held on 24/04/2007
Minutes of the Audit Committee - 21/3/07
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE AUDIT COMMITTEE – 21ST MARCH 2007
SUBMITTED TO THE COUNCIL MEETING – 24TH APRIL 2007
(To be read in conjunction with the Agenda for the Meeting)
Mr M H W Band (Chairman)
Dr P M Marriott
Mr P J Nicholson (Vice-Chairman)
Mr A E B Taylor-Smith
Mrs S R Jacobs
Also present: Nick Ward, Bobby Grant and Iain Murray from the Audit Commission
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 28th November 2006 were confirmed and signed.
DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST
There were no interests raised under this heading.
PART I – RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COUNCIL
There were no matters falling within this category.
PARTS II AND III – MATTERS OF REPORT
The background papers relating to the following report items in Parts II and III are as specified in the agenda for the Audit Committee.
Part II – Matters Reported in Detail for the Information of the Council
DRAFT ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER
Nick Ward, the District Auditor and Relationship Manager for Waverley, gave a detailed introduction to the draft Annual Audit and Inspection Letter, paying particular attention to the overall summary and the actions needed by the Council. The Audit Commission said that the Audit Letter painted a positive picture overall and recognised that Waverley faced many of the same issues and pressures for the future as other councils are facing. The Audit Commission praised the Council on its improvement in its Use of Resources judgement and confirmed that Waverley is solidly in the 'performing well' category.
Members expressed concern that, when comparing Waverley with other local authorities, no account was taken of the distinct and rural nature of the borough and the associated pressures brought by its four diverse communities - issues not necessarily shared by other authorities. It was clarified that it was not possible to factor into the annual letter the individual nature and characteristics of each local authority area and that the work undertaken was based largely on performance management information.
The Annual Audit Letter had made reference to performance surrounding processing of new benefits claims and this was qualified by the fact that significant improvements had been achieved since 2005/06, assisted by the Best Value Performance Indicators Sub-Committees looking closely at this area and working with officers to share the understanding of the issues faced.
The District Auditor drew the Committee's attention to the need for the Council to make arrangements for ensuring the quality of data is improved. This was seen to be an area overlooked by many Councils and which was identified by the auditors as a weakness which could potentially impact on services. Officers reassured members that an Electronic and Document Records Management System (EDRMS) was currently being implemented which would address a number of the issues raised. The Chairman also cited the good work being achieved by the Best Value Performance Indicator Sub-Committees in challenging the ways in which data is reported and allowing for investigations to result in a better consistency of information being collated.
In terms of the transitional senior management arrangements that have been in operation, it was clarified that there had been good overall performance during this time, including improvements in many areas, but that it would be beneficial for the strategic direction of the authority if strong community leadership were in place in the longer-term.
Members were keen to receive guidance from the auditors on achieving a social inclusion strategy. It was stated that it was the duty of the Council to look at the services it provided and analyse the types of community within the borough. It would then be necessary to bring together proposed measures into one strategy in order for the Council to make progress in this area.
RESOLVED that the comments above be forwarded to the Executive along with the final version of the Annual Audit and Inspection Letter.
There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.
Part III – Brief Summaries of Other Matters Dealt With
AUDIT AND INSPECTION PLANNING
Bobby Grant from the Audit Commission introduced the Audit and Inspection report setting out the work planned to be undertaken for 2007/2008 and detailing the level of annual fee proposed.
Members sought clarification as to the proposed level of fee, including the regional premium applied to Councils in London and the South East to cover the additional cost of professionals undertaking the work in this area. An outline was given as to other potential areas of work that the Audit Commission could assist Waverley with, such as future housing delivery, social inclusion strategy and a fraud awareness survey.
RESOLVED that the report be noted and the final version, including the final fee, be brought back to a future meeting of the Committee.
COMPLIANCE WITH NEW CIPFA CODE OF PRACTICE FOR INTERNAL AUDIT IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 2006
The Committee considered a report detailing an initial assessment of the Council’s Internal Audit Service against the new Code of Practice published by CIPFA in December 2006.
1. the contents of the report be noted;
2. additional thought be given to assessing the resources needed to implement the necessary changes to working and management practices to achieve as full a level of compliance as possible by April 2008; and
3. a progress report be presented to the November meeting of the Committee.
ANNUAL INTERNAL AUDIT PLAN 2007/2008
The Audit Manager introduced the draft plan for the Internal Audit service for 2007/2008. The Committee agreed that the plan was a useful tool for measuring progress at future meetings.
RESOLVED that, subject to the addition of a column showing progress made to date, the Committee endorsed the draft Annual Internal Audit Plan for 2007/2008.
STATUS OF INTERNAL AUDIT RECOMMENDATIONS MADE IN 2005/2006
The Committee received a report providing details of internal audit recommendations made in 2005/2006, including whether they were accepted and implemented. It was recognised that the Committee had an important role in monitoring and challenging any actions or recommendations not being implemented.
RESOLVED that the Committee should review actions and recommendations not being implemented in future.
STRATEGIES AND AUDIT COMMITTEE PROGRAMMED WORK ITEMS
The Committee received a report setting out a schedule of strategies, plans and policies that support the Council’s overall policy framework and a timetable for programmed work items for the Committee. It noted that the Audit Commission would be present at the meetings in March and September, and that progress on Audit recommendations would be presented to the Committee twice a year, with the exception of any items that would need to be brought to their attention.
RESOLVED that the Schedule of Strategies and the list of programmed work items be noted.
The meeting commenced at 7.00 p.m. and concluded at 8.37 p.m.