Agenda and draft minutes

Audit and Governance Committee
Thursday, 16th May, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Russettings, 25 Worcester Road, Sutton, SM2 6PR

Contact: Fiona Bywaters, Committee Services Team Leader  Tel.: 020 8770 4990, Email:  committeeservices@sutton.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

41.

Welcome and introductions

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Richard Clifton, welcomed those present.

42.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor James McDermott-Hill, with Councillor Param Nandha attending as substitute, as well as Councillor Jean Crossby (substituted by Councillor Jenny Batt), and Councillor Nick Mattey. Councillor Vincent Galligan substituted a vacant position.

43.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

44.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 31 January 2019.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the meeting held on 31 January 2019 be agreed as an accurate record.

45.

AG/2018/25 - Operation of the Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 137 KB

A function of the Council’s Audit & Governance Committee is to receive reports on the operation of the member Code of Conduct at Sutton. The purpose of this report is to update the committee on complaints which have been received and dealt with since the last meeting.

Minutes:

Alexa Coates, Head of Committee and Management Support, presented the report. It was updated that the final complaint had been settled informally and therefore would not be investigated. No further comment was offered by Members.

 

RESOLVED: that action taken by the Monitoring Officer in dealing with complaints be noted.

46.

AG/2018/26 - Member Development Update pdf icon PDF 281 KB

The purpose of this report is to update the Committee on the Council's member development programme, setting out how the Council is ensuring that all members are fully aware of their obligation to follow the Nolan Principles and to help them meet the standards of behaviour and conduct that the public have a right to expect from their elected members.

Minutes:

Fiona Bywaters, Committee Services Team Leader, presented the report.

 

Members felt development opportunities to be available and officers helpful to the delivery of the member development programme. Discussion ensued as to the variety of means of delivery and how it could be made more flexible.

 

Councillor Colin Stears suggested making better use of the LGA online resources, focusing on the desired outcome and whether that was general or specific learning. Members were in agreement that tablet devices might be useful to their effectiveness in role and overall development.

 

Other Members expressed reticence at undertaking online training as it was not possible to ask questions or seek clarification - instead they recognised a value to face-to-face delivery.

 

Councillor Marlene Heron suggested that mandatory training on the corporate parent role would also be beneficial to Members. With regard to regulatory training, Councillor David Hicks suggested that group leaders be informed of those Members which have not attended mandatory sessions.

 

It was also suggested that with Annual Council upcoming, refresher trainings on specific committees would be helpful. The Committee Services Team Leader responded that trainings were hosted on the ‘Councillor Connect’ website and a link would be recirculated in the Member Information Bulletin.

 

RESOLVED: that the member development update be noted.

47.

AG/2018/27 - Local Government Ethical Standards pdf icon PDF 177 KB

To consider the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) - Review into Local Government Ethical Standards.

 

Appendix A available online in full at
www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-government-ethical-standards-report

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was taken as read and the Independent Persons there present invited to comment.

 

Clarification was given to the constitutional rules surrounding gifts and hospitality in response to Best Practice 5. Comment was given to the subjective nature of the value to different persons but the guidelines were acknowledged. Members were reminded that they could also declare gifts or hospitality under the guidance value in the interests of openness and transparency.

 

Positive mention was also given to Best Practice 3 and the involvement of the public in reviewing the code of conduct - beginning with community organisations. Members of the Committee agreed with the implementation of this best practice at Sutton.

 

The Chair also referred to Appendix B of the report - suggested amendments to the Code of Conduct - for further discussion. It was felt that any improvement to the public’s confidence in the upholding of standards would be beneficial.

 

RESOLVED: that

 

1.    The best practice recommendations of the Review into Local Government Ethical Standards were considered.

 

2.    It be recommended to Strategy and Resources Committee and then Council to include definitions of bullying and harassment in the Code of Conduct as set out at Appendix B.

 

3.    It be recommended to Strategy and Resources Committee and then Council to amend the Code of Conduct to include a provision that Members are required to comply with this procedure and participate in any formal standards investigation.

48.

AG/2018/28 - HR Update pdf icon PDF 341 KB

This report provides an overview of key HR workforce and health and safety related data, including analysis of that data and an overall direction of travel. It provides an update on a range of activities within HR and across LBS to address some of the challenges the data raises.

 

Minutes:

Alison Hackett, Assistant Director People and Organisational Development, presented the report.

 

Members discussed the information provided on apprenticeships in particular. The Assistant Director agreed to provide data on the diversity of apprentices in any future report.

 

The fall in sickness levels was also examined, with a likely connection made to the services which had been transferred out of the organisation. Members requested data which reflected ‘like-for-like’ the groups of staff retained within the organisation and potentially per service or directorate. Clarification was also requested as to which staff in joint services were employed by which authority.

 

The importance of staff networks was also recognised by Members of the committee.

 

Finally, comment was given to turnover of staff / recruitment, data on staff accidents and personal safety risk.

 

RESOLVED: that the report be noted.

49.

Members’ Development - The Role of Internal Audit

Presentation by Margaret Cullerton on the role of internal audit.

Minutes:

Margaret Culleton, Head of Internal Audit, gave a presentation on the role of internal audit.

50.

AG/2018/29 - Treasury Management Quarterly Report pdf icon PDF 154 KB

This report is the treasury management review for the quarter ended 31 December 2018. It summarises the Council’s Treasury Management operations during the first nine months of 2018/19. It is presented for the purpose of monitoring and review and meets best practice as suggested by the Treasury Management Code of Practice.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Lyndsey Gamble, Head of Investment, Risk & Commercial Finance, presented the report. A correction to Paragraph 4.5 was highlighted: that loan durations should be amended to 44 years and 50 years respectively.

 

Reference was made to the annual capital programme as agreed by the Strategy & Resources Committee.

 

RESOLVED: that the treasury management activity undertaken during the first nine months of the year be noted.

51.

AG/2018/30 - External Audit Update 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 183 KB

The statutory Audit of the London Borough of Sutton for 2018/19 is underway and this report gives an update of progress, specifically focusing on the interim audit visit and full audit planned visit of June to July 2019.

 

Appendix B to follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Paul Jacklin, Grant Thornton, presented the update with particular attention to the progress report. Members examined the report headlines and key matters impacting the audit, as included in the report appendix.

 

Topics examined in greater depth ranged from Sutton Housing Partnership to unaccompanied asylum seeker children as well as balancing the budget over the coming years.

 

RESOLVED: that the progress and recommendations made by the external Auditor be noted.

52.

AG/2018/31 - Internal Audit Annual Plan 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 163 KB

This attached report comprises the draft Annual Internal Audit Plan for 2019/20. This sets out Internal Audit’s priorities and work programme for the year ahead for approval by the Audit and Governance Committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Margaret Culleton, Head of Internal Audit, presented the report and highlighted areas of flexibility. Consideration was given as to how council partnerships are subject to audit processes. Members expressed a wish that the audit processes of council interests in companies be discussed at Sutton Shareholdings Board.

 

RESOLVED: that the Internal Audit Plan, Charter and Strategy for 2019/20 as set out at Appendices A and B, be approved.

53.

AG/2018/32 - Review risk register and discuss mitigation pdf icon PDF 148 KB

This report provides an overview of the current corporate risk register which has been updated for May 2019.  A full update of the risk register will be provided prior to the meeting itself.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sam Barker, Head of Commissioning, Insight and Improvement, presented the report. It was mentioned that the higher-scoring risks were now listed first in the register. Members discussed the format of the risk register as provided to committee.

 

RESOLVED: that the Council’s updated risk statement (Appendix A) and updated corporate risk register (Appendix B) were commented upon and noted.

54.

AG/2018/33 - SWLFP Fraud referrals and Investigations Update pdf icon PDF 204 KB

This report summarises the results of the Council’s Counter-Fraud and investigations work undertaken since 1 April 2018 compared with the indicative resource allocation plan for 2018/19.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Kevin Holland, Deputy Head, Fraud & Risk - Head of SWLFP, presented the report. Clarification was given as to how referrals are made - particularly when working with partners. Reference was also made by Members to Table 4 in the reports: summary of overpayments and notional savings.

 

Members requested a written note on a specific issue raised in debate with regards to a housing association to which the Deputy Head, Fraud & Risk agreed.

 

RESOLVED: that the report be noted.

55.

AG/2018/34 - Membership of the London Counter Fraud Hub (LCFH) pdf icon PDF 188 KB

London Councils have a good record in investigating fraud and with collaborating with others to enhance fraud prevention and detection but there is always the need to respond to technological developments. Innovation is important to fighting fraud, especially at a time of finite resources, and the use of smart analytics can improve the Council’s ability to tackle fraudsters thus prevent resources being taken away from delivering services to those who need them.


Appendix A contained in exempt supplement

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

At the outset of the item, Councillor Colin Stears motioned that the public and press be excluded, as seconded by Councillor Marlene Heron, and agreed by the Committee, on the grounds that discussion would involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.

 

In closed session, Kevin Holland, Deputy Head, Fraud & Risk - Head of SWLFP, presented the report, taking questions.

 

Members requested that the Strategic Director continue to examine the matter and keep committee informed as to when and how a decision would need to be taken.

 

Members requested that a further paper on the LCFH be brought back to the next meeting of this committee, with information on proposed KPIs and contract terms. Members also requested that if a decision on membership was required before the next scheduled meeting of the committee that the Strategic Director of Resources consult with Members prior to any decision.

 

RESOLVED: that

 

1.    It be noted as information this paper which outlines the proposals for utilizing smart data analytics as a fraud prevention measure under the remit of the London Counter Fraud Hub.

 

2.    A report on joining the London Counter Fraud Hub (LCFH) be brought back to committee.

56.

Provisional Work Plan pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Minutes:

The provisional work plan was reviewed and noted.

 

Members of the committee made strong representation that reports be printed in colour where necessary to interpret the information in hard copy.