Agenda and minutes

Audit and Governance Committee
Thursday, 25th November, 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Suite 1,2 & 3, Westfields, Middlewich Road, Sandbach CW11 1HZ. View directions

Contact: Rachel Graves  Tel: 01270 686473 Email:  rachel.graves@cheshireeast.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

33.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor David Marren.

 

34.

Declarations of Interest

To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any disclosable pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests in any item on the agenda.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

 

35.

Public Speaking Time/Open Session

In accordance with the Council’s Committee Procedure Rules and Appendix on Public Speaking a total period of 15 minutes is allocated for members of the public to put questions to the committee on any matter relating to this agenda. Each member of the public will be allowed up to two minutes each to speak, and the Chair will have discretion to vary this where they consider it appropriate.

 

Members of the public wishing to speak are required to provide notice of this at least three clear working days’ in advance of the meeting and should include the question with that notice.

 

Minutes:

There were no members of the public present.

 

Concerns were raised about public access to Council’s buildings, as at present reception staff were not always on duty to allow entry into a building.  It was agreed that the current situation would be clarified with the Facilities team. 

 

36.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 90 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 30 September 2021.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 30 September 2021 be approved as a correct record, subject to the inclusion in Minute 20 Covid-19 Update that the Committee recorded their thanks to the staff in Registration Services for their work during the pandemic.

 

 

37.

Annual Audit Letter 2020/21 and Certification Report

To report on progress against the external audit of the 2020/21 accounts.
Report to follow

 

Minutes:

Mark Dalton provided an update on the progress with the audit of the draft Statement of Accounts. 

 

It was reported that work was progressing well with the audit, which had been delayed due to the transition to the new financial system Unit 4 ERP in February 2021.

 

In order to comply with Account and Audit Regulations 2015, the Council had published a notice to state that it was unable to make the deadline of 30 September 2021 for completion of the audit.      

 

38.

Annual Statement of Accounts 2021/22

To report on progress against the Annual Statement of Accounts 2020/21.
Report to follow

Minutes:

The Director of Finance and Customer Services reported that as the audit had not been completed it was not possible to present the Annual Statement of Accounts to the Committee at this meeting and the intention was to bring it to the next meeting in January 2022.

39.

Annual Governance Statement 2020/21

To report on progress against the Annual Governance Statement 2020/21.
Report to follow.

Minutes:

The Director of Finance and Customer Services reported that as the Annual Governance Statement was linked to the completion of the audit, it was not possible to present the Statement to the Committee at this meeting and that it would be brought to the next meeting in January 2022.

40.

Audit and Governance Committee Annual Report 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 83 KB

To consider the Audit and Governance Committee Annual Report 2021/22.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the draft version of the Annual Report of the Audit and Governance Committee 2020/21

 

The report provided details of the work undertaken by the Committee and the assurances received during the year.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Annual Report of the Audit and Governance Committee 2020/21 be approved for consideration by full Council at its meeting on 15 December 2021.

41.

Risk Management Update pdf icon PDF 83 KB

To receive an update on the risk management and business continuity activity in the Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the outcomes of the review of the Strategic Risk Register for the period Q1 to Q2 2021/22

 

The report detailed the changes made to the Risks following the Q1 review, which had led to a number of the risks being refocused and refreshed, and the outcome of the Q2 review.  The report also provided an overview of the Council’s operational response to Covid and associated winter risks.

 

Reference was made to SR13 – Reputational Risk, and the Council’s relationships with Town and Parish Councils as they were under increasing financial pressure as were being asked to pay for road repairs under the Highways Top Up Scheme and the funding for the second year of the New Homes Bonus was now included in the MTFS rather then being issued to local communities.    In response it was stated that the decision to include the New Homes Bonus funding in the MTFS overall balance position was taken by full Council and it was suggested that any proposals for this funding should be submitted via the Budget Consultation process which ran until 4 January 2022.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Strategic Risk Update for Quarters 1 and 2 2021/22 be received.

 

42.

Internal Audit 2021/22 Plan Progress Update pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To consider a progress report on the Internal Audit Plan 2021/22.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered an update report on the work undertaken by Internal Audit between April and September 2021.

 

The report summarised the assurance work undertaken on the Internal Audit Plan for 2021/22  and provided a summary of the final reports issued, comparison of the Audit Plan and actual work undertaken, value of grant certification work, and set out the ongoing Internal Audit assignments.

 

In relation to the audit work on Section 106/CIL it was asked if the parish councils would be included in this work in relation to CIL, as if they had a Neighbourhood Plan would receive a % of money to spend in their area.  In response it was confirmed that the audit would be looking at the Cheshire East Councils processes only.

 

In relation to staff vacancies in Internal Audit it was reported that two full time staff had been recruited on a temporary basis and one member of staff had returned from maternity leave. 

 

Reference was made to the audit work understand on schools and the council services offered to schools and it was proposed that briefing session be arranged on these matters.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Committee notes the contents of the report.

43.

Procurement of External Audit Services pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To consider the proposals for appointing the Council’s external auditors for the five-year period from 2023/24 and make a recommendation to Council.

Minutes:

          The Committee considered the proposals for appointing the Council’s external auditors for the five-year period from 2023/24.

 

          In 2017 the Council opted into the ‘appointing person’ national auditor appointment arrangements established by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) for the period covering the accounts for 2018/19 to and including the audit of the 2022/23 accounts.

 

          Section 7 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 stated that a ‘relevant authority must appoint a local auditor to audit its accounts for a financial year no later than 31 December in the preceding financial year’.

 

          The PSAA was now inviting the Council to opt in for the next appointing period, covering audits for 2023/24 to 2027/28, along with all other authorities, so that the PSAA could enter into a number of contracts with appropriately qualified audit firms and appoint a suitable firm to be the Council’s auditors.

 

          RESOLVED:

 

That Council be recommended to accept the invitation from Public Sector Audit Appointments to ‘opt in’ to the sector led option for the appointment of external auditors for five financial years commencing 1 April 2023.

44.

Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 72 KB

To consider the Work Programme and determine any required amendments.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Work Programme for 2021/22.

 

Since the last review by the Committee, items had been added to the Work Programme for the meeting on 17 January 2022.  In addition, this meeting would now receive the Annual Audit Letter and Certification Report, Annual Statement of Accounts and Annual Governance Statement.    It was reported that the Code of Conduct report would not be going to the January 2022 meeting as further work was required to be undertaken by the Working Group.

 

It was requested by the Committee that work should commence at pace on the two unallocated items – Highways Funding and Partnership Governance and the scooping reports on the work be brought to the Committee in due course.

 

RESOLVED:  That

 

1          the Work Programme be noted and be brought back to the Committee throughout the year for further development and approval.

 

2          work commence at pace on scoping reports for the items on Highways Funding, and Partnership Governance.

45.

Contract Procedure Rule Non-Adherences pdf icon PDF 114 KB

To consider the report deferred at the meeting of the Committee on 30 September 2021.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report deferred from the last meeting.

 

It was proposed to avoid duplication o that the Finance Sub Committee would receive the Waivers as part of their responsibility for the procurement pipeline, and Audit and Governance Committee continue to receive the Non-Adherences for review.

 

Clarification was provided on the difference between waivers and non-adherences.  Waivers were part of the procurement process and were pre-approved variations from the Contract Procedural Rules.    Non-adherences arose from instances where the Contract Procedural Rules have not been followed.

 

The Committee were concerned that the proposed change would remove their ability to see any trends and not be able to carry out the assurance role of the Committee.

 

It was proposed that the Committee continue to receive both the Waivers and Non-Adherences.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Committee

 

1             notes the reasons for the 10 waivers approved between 1 April 2021 and 31 August 2021.

 

2             notes that the Finance Sub Committee will review Waivers as part of their responsibility for the pipeline of procurement activity.

 

3             confirms that the Audit and Governance Committee will continue to receive both the Waivers and Non-Adherences

 

4          confirms that the Audit and Governance Committee will continue to receive an oversight report of all WARNs.

46.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The reports relating to the remaining items on the agenda have been withheld from public circulation and deposit pursuant to Section 100(B)(2) of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that the matters may be determined with the press and public excluded.

 

The Committee may decide that the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items pursuant to Section 100(A)4 of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 and public interest would not be served in publishing the information.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item pursuant to Section 100(A)4 of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 1, 2 and 3 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 and the public interest would not be served in publishing the served in publishing the information.

47.

Contract Procedure Rule Non-Adherences

To consider the WARNs deferred at the meeting of the Committee on 30 September 2021.

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered the WARNs.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the WARNs be noted.