Agenda and minutes

Audit and Governance Committee
Thursday, 23rd January, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Civic Offices - St Nicholas Way, Sutton, SM1 1EA. View directions

Contact: Cassie Fraser-Shanley, Committee Services Officer  Tel.: 020 8770 4990, Email:  committeeservices@sutton.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

31.

Welcome and introductions

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Weatherlake, welcomed those present.

32.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Fivey with Councillor Gonzalez attending as substitute.

 

Apologies were also received by Neil Asten, Geoffrey Beresford Hartwell and David Parrett.

33.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

34.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 92 KB

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

Minutes:

Members enquired about the casework system which was discussed at the previous meeting. Officers gave a brief update and confirmed that they were currently exploring a range of options. 

 

Members also enquired about the progress of the Hackbridge School Expansion project. Officers responded that they expect an update to be brought to the next Audit and Governance committee. 


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

35.

Internal Audit - Half Year Progress Report pdf icon PDF 195 KB

In May 2019, the Audit and Governance Committee agreed an Annual Audit Plan comprising a total of 750 chargeable days. This report summarises Internal Audit’s progress in delivering the Annual Audit Plan up to January 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Margaret Culleton, Head of Internal Audit, presented the report.

 

Members discussed the findings of the report, particularly around the majority of limited assurance opinions issued going to schools. In response to questions, the officer clarified that they are focusing on the most high risk schools to get greater assurance. Furthermore, they found that there was not a recurrence in schools being issued with limited assurance opinions, following the creation and implementation of an action plan in the first instance.  

 

Members referred to a decision made at a previous meeting of the Council and Employee Joint Committee for a formal procedure to be introduced for agency and interim staff entering the system. It was confirmed that a review was done and all agency staff now go through one entry point which is monitored regularly by the Strategic Director of Resources and other members of CMT. 


RESOLVED: that the Internal Audit Progress Report be noted.

36.

Treasury Management Quarterly Report pdf icon PDF 158 KB

This report is the treasury management review for the nine months ended 31 December 2019. It summarises the Council’s Treasury Management operations during the first nine months of 2019/20. 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 and Commercial Finance, presented the report.

 

It was confirmed that a mixture of borrowing was used when the Council  purchased part of the Sutton Hospital Site, which has been refinanced. Currently, the project is in the procurement process and the plan is for a report to be taken to the Strategy and Resources committee in July to select a development partner. 

 

Members discussed the investments and asked if Brexit posed any risk to interest rates. The officer clarified that recent reports would not be significant for investment, but could be for future borrowing. Officers are in regular communication with their financial advisers, Link, and their focus is to explore other sources of financing to ultimately bring the PWLB rate down. 

 

Members discussed the new Municipal Bond Agency, which is a competitor to the PWLB. Officers are confident that their rates will come in lower than the PWLB, however this will only be confirmed by testing the bond with its first issue. 


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

37.

Review Risk Register and discuss mitigation pdf icon PDF 149 KB

This report provides an overview of the current corporate risk register which has been updated for January 2020. It also includes a reference to the 2019 internal audit of risk management.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sam Barker, Interim Assistant Director - Customers, Commissioning and Governance, presented the report. 

 

Members discussed the future of pupil placement, in light of the proposed school in Rosehill being refused planning permission. It was confirmed that a temporary school at Robin Hood Lane would not be opened for 2020 entry, as DFE would not commit to it unless there was planning permission for the permanent school. However, negotiations have taken place with local secondary schools to ensure enough forms of entry are available for 2020 as reported to People Committee.  

 

Members questioned why the Overall Risk Statement states that the Council’s preparedness to respond to a catastrophic incident was robust, yet it was coded red on the risk register. Officers clarified that the impact of a catastrophic incident will always be significant, but the Council is continuously exploring its emergency planning to ensure emergency business continuity plans, which will form the response to the incident, are robust. There was further discussion around whether these plans should be made available to members to be aware of and to scrutinise. 

 

Officers agreed to consider the concerns raised around the possible impact of a recent High Court ruling which had found that Kingston-upon-Thames had overcharged council tenants for water. 

 

RESOLVED: that

  1. the updated corporate risk register as part of the ongoing management of risk across the authority be noted.
  2. the recommendation from the 2019 internal risk-based audit of risk management that “consideration should be given to selecting individual corporate risks each year for in-depth review, with the results of the reviews being reported to the Audit and Governance Committee” be agreed.

38.

External Audit Update pdf icon PDF 127 KB

The External Audit Progress report provides a commentary on the Auditors progress this year along with a summary of emerging national issues and developments. The progress report also includes the results of the certification of the 2018/19 Housing Benefit claim and the 2018/19 Teachers’ Pension return.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Paul Jacklin, Senior Audit Manager for Grant Thornton, presented the report. 

 

It was confirmed that Grant Thornton were also the external auditors for the London Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames. 


RESOLVED: that the External Auditor’s Progress Report be noted.

39.

Provisional Work Plan pdf icon PDF 44 KB

Minutes:

Members noted the Provision Work Plan. 

 

It was confirmed that the upcoming Member Development Update will include an update on the progress of the casework system and the Members Information Bulletin.