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Apologies for absence
To receive any apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Nigel Howcutt
Declarations of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest
A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a personal interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered -
(i) must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent
and, if the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest, or a personal interest which is also prejudicial
(ii) may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter (and must withdraw to the public seating area) unless they have been granted a dispensation.
A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Members’ Register of Interests, or is not the subject of a pending notification, must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.
Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal and prejudicial interests are defined in Part 2 of the Code of Conduct For Members
[If a member is in any doubt as to whether they have an interest which should be declared they should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer before the start of the meeting]
There were no Declarations of Interest.
To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting and consider the actions
The Minutes of the previous meeting held on were review and agreed
An opportunity for members of the public to make statements and ask questions in accordance with the rules as to Public Participation
There was no public Participation.
Presented by Amber Banister
The 19/20 accounts Audit is now complete and the opinion is with the team.
The focus is now on the remaining work for 19 / 20, this includes the Housing Benefit certification, the work is due to start around 30 November and the deadline for completion is 31 January 2021.
The Pooling Housing Capital Receipt return is also still to be completed, the deadline for completion is 29 January 2021. The start date is still to be agreed.
The sector updates are included in the attached reports, however Amber would like to draw the committee’s attention to the NAO new code of practice, and this creates a change in the value for money work carried out by GT from 2021 onwards. The consolation has now been completed and the NAO guidance note was recently issued.
Going forward there will be changes to the way GT work, a few of the key changes are:
· There will be a detailed commentary rather than just an opinion on the AFR, this will be more beneficial to the Council in terms of decision making,
· The findings will no longer be in the AFR, they will be in a separate annual auditors report.
· Recommendations will be more meaningful and will include the nature and the evidence around them, the impact of any weakness and what action they believe should be taken.
All of these changes have implications, time wise, it will take longer and due to the detail involved will require a more experienced team (managers and above).
In terms of fees, because of the time and resourcing it requires GT are currently working through the impact of this, as it is a change of requirement and isn’t covered by the currently scale fee in place, GT are currently in discussions with PSAA, as this is a change across the sector they have suggested ways are looked at to be able to provide some funding.
Cllr Townsend would like to know if the audit fee will be changing going forward or if this affects the current fee, A.B confirmed the fee would remain the same for the current period but there are discussions about the change in fee going forward.
Cllr Birnie would like to know if it is possible to have a breakdown of the acronyms used in the reports. A.B confirmed she will aim to do this in future.
Cllr Symington would like more information regarding the improvement of property, plant equipment and pensions which is mentioned on page 5. A.B confirms this goes hand in hand with the fee variation letter which would have been received earlier in the year, this is in response to financial reporting council who are the regulator, requesting more in-depth work on PPE and Pensions. This also applies to Simplification of Accounts as mentioned on page 18.
Councillor Symington notes the comment regarding the 1.9 Billion funding gap across the local authority sector mentioned on age 8, she would like to ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
Presented by Philip Lazenby
He would like to assure the committee that currently there are no staff on furlough and the business is running fully therefore there should be no issues completed the work according to the current deadlines.
There have been 4 reports provided
· Budgetary control
· Council Tax
· Housing Benefit
All four of these have substantial assurance with just 2 recommendations, both of which are in relation to NNDR. This represents an excellent outturn in respect of the controls.
The root cause indicator section shows where the areas of perceived weakness are in relation to the Council over a prolonged period of time. He will talk about this in greater detail at the next Committee meeting.
The executive summaries section gives an overview of each of the reports.
There were 2 recommendations in relations to NNDR, the recommendations are as follows:
· The reliefs exemptions – comprehensive risk assessment required
· Declarations of friends and family who live in the area need to be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
These have been agreed by managements with very reasonable time frames for completion.
All other reports were substantive with no recommendations.
The progress against the annual plan has been affected by COVID, there are a number of reports left to complete, however 4 reports are substantially underway and due to be completed shortly. In addition 3 others are due to commence imminently.
Cllr Townsend would like to know what the handover procedure was from the previous Internal Audit company. PL explains there were a series of meetings with Mazzars and copies of all the reports and recommendations issues last year were received. All recommendations have been followed up.
Councillor Chapman notes that the last update was received in 2014, he would like to know if this is normal as it seems a very long period of time. PL explains that this was when the document was last amended and this was ascertained during the course of the review, the last update was actually provided 30 August 2020.
Cllr Birnie explains that he did raise the issue of the 2014 amended date with the previous auditors as he considers this to be very important, DBCs policy for some time now has been to move all services online where possible, so he feels it is absolutely essential that the ICT department is of the highest standard and complying to all auditors recommendations, he would make this a priority. PL confirms they have a business continuity review scheduled which should provide some assurances.
Councillor Townsend and Councillor Chapman have no concerns around ICT at this time and feel all explanations will be covered in due course.
James Deane confirms that Ben Trueman has been in front of the committee and provided a detailed overview, the recommendations surrounding ICT are priority 2 and not fundamental to the running of this department, it is however still important and will be corrected.
Councillor SO Mahmood would like to know if recommendation 1 under NNDR is related to ... view the full minutes text for item 26.
Future Work Programme
The work programme was reviewed and agreed.