Agenda and minutes

Audit Committee
Thursday, 24th March, 2016 2.00 pm

Venue: Civic Offices, St Nicholas way, Sutton, SM1 1EA

Contact: Susanne Wicks, Committee Support Team Leader  Tel: 020 8770 6540 | Email:  susanne.wicks@sutton.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

40.

Member Development - reviewing the Committee's effectiveness (led by Grant Thornton)

Minutes:

Tom Ball, Audit Manager from Grant Thornton, delivered a short presentation around the effectiveness of the Audit Committee.  He explained that the presentation is based on a recent publication from Dec 2015 (Knowing the Ropes, our Audit Committee Effectiveness Review 2016).  The report is based on a survey that took place across five key areas, with over 300 respondents from listed companies, central government bodies, charities, local authorities, NHS providers and commissioners, housing associations, education institutions and mutuals.

 

Four key issues arose from the survey, which Tom Ball explained in greater depth and welcomed comment and questions from the Committee:

 

·         The status of the Committee within the organisation;

·         How the Committee should be organised and operated;

·         Skills and qualities required in Audit Committee members;

·         How the effectiveness of the Committee should be evaluated.

 

Members noted that there could be some overlap between the work of the Audit and Scrutiny Committees.  It was agreed that it would be useful for the Committee to undertake a review of their terms of reference, and it was suggested that Grant Thornton officers could participate in the review, in the role as critical friend.

41.

Apologies for absence and notification of subsitutes

Minutes:

No apologies were received.

42.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

43.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 125 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 10 December 2015.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 10 December 2016 are agreed as an accurate record.

44.

Treasury Management Quarterly Report pdf icon PDF 360 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Strategic Director of Resources, who invited comments and questions.

 

At the request of Councillors, the Strategic Director of Resources gave further detail on the recovery of funds from the Heritage Bank, as well as information about the repayment of the load to fund the HRA and the implications of the 1% rent reduction imposed by Government. 

 

The Chair asked that Appendix B (Council cash balances available for investment) be revised for future reports, to include a trendline to the graph.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Audit Committee notes the Treasury Management activity undertaken during the first nine months of the year 2015/16.

45.

External Audit: Grant Certification Report 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Minutes:

Julian Gillett from Grant Thornton gave a brief introduction for this item and noted that approximately 25-30% of local authorities receive an unqualified certification.   

46.

External Audit Plan pdf icon PDF 551 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Julian Gillett, from Grant Thornton, introduced the Audit Plan.  He highlighted some key aspects of the report, and invited comments and questions. 

 

The Strategic Director of Resources outlined the process for the triennial valuation of the pension fund to be undertaken by Barnet Waddingham this year.

 

The Strategic Director of Resources also pointed out that the National Audit Office (NAO) issued guidance in November 2015 which means that the Value for Money conclusion will be measured differently partway through the year.

 

RESOLVED: That the Audit Committee notes the External Audit Plan.

47.

Pension External Audit Plan pdf icon PDF 484 KB

Minutes:

Tom Ball, from Grant Thornton, presented the Pension External Audit Plan and highlighted certain aspects of the report. 

 

RESOLVED:  That the Audit Committee notes the Pension External Audit Plan.

48.

Internal Audit Annual Plan 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 163 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Interim Head of Audit and invited comments and questions.

 

Councillor Adrian Davey asked if local authorities can share learning and best practice where they have a shared service in place.  The Head of the South West London Fraud Partnership confirmed that they can, subject to Data Protection requirements. The Interim Head of Audit also advised that the close link to the South West London Fraud Partnership enables discussion around fraud and control issues.

 

The Strategic Director of Resources confirmed that the same number of audit days will be delivered at the same cost levels of 15/16 due to savings achieved within the service.

 

The Interim Head of Audit undertook to keep the Chair of the Committee informed about any audits resulting in limited assurance.  

 

RESOLVED:  That the Audit Committee

 

1.         Approves the Internal Audit Plan for 2016/17.

2.         Approves the updated Internal Audit Charter.

49.

Update on South West London Audit Partnership

A verbal update from the Interim Head of Audit.

Minutes:

The Interim Head of Audit confirmed that the collaboration agreement for the Partnership will be signed on 29 March 2016.

50.

SWLFP Anti-Fraud and Investigations Update pdf icon PDF 359 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of the South West London Fraud Partnership (SWLFP) introduced this report and invited comments and questions.

 

With regard to total number of fraud cases investigated in 14/15 and 15/16, Councillors expressed concern around the drop in numbers for Housing, Tenancy and Right to Buy investigations, and the Chair sought reassurance that communication has improved between Sutton Housing Partnership and the SWLFP.  The Head of the SWLFP advised that there had initially been some issues around passing referrals to the Partnership, but officers had taken action, and referrals are now increasing.  Furthermore, SHP have provided the data required on tenancies, and a data matching exercise will be carried out.

 

The Chair requested that future reports to this Committee include comparative data for the five boroughs in the SWLFP, accompanied by explanatory narrative.  Councillor Adrian Davey also suggested it would be useful to receive information on lessons learned across the SWLFP and measures put in place to ensure prevention of fraud.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Audit Committee notes the report.

 

51.

Review of work programme pdf icon PDF 179 KB

Minutes:

The work programme was updated.  It was agreed that the training session for the 30 June Committee meeting should be an introduction to the role of the Committee, as there may be new members following Annual Council in May.

 

The Chair asked all members to advise him and the Strategic Director of Resources of any training requirements or other agenda items to add to the work programme.

52.

Any urgent items brought forward at the discretion of the Chair

The Chair must approve the reason for urgency.

Minutes:

No items were raised.

53.

Date of next meeting

30 June 2016 at 7 pm.