Internal Audit – Service Reports 2017/18
· Budgetary Control
· Benefits/Savings Realisation
· Community Infrastructure Levy
The committee first considered the Mazars report on the audit of Budgetary Control
(Evaluation assurance: Full. Testing assurance: Full); with no recommendations raised.
The committee next considered the Mazars report on the audit of Benefits and Savings Realisation.
(Evaluation assurance: Full. Testing assurance: Full) again with no recommendations raised.
The committee finally considered the Mazars report on the audit of Community Infrastructure Levy.
(Evaluation assurance: Substantial. Testing assurance: Substantial)
The audit raised two Priority 2 recommendations in respect of Recovery of overdue CIL payments and the Performance Monitoring Framework.
Cllr Tindall noted the Management response on page 96 that due to the difficulty recruiting to this area, resources are stretched. CT advised that this service is currently dependent on an officer driving around to identify sites that may be due for collection. She added that there is a significant issue identifying the CIL liable person. In response to Cllr Birnie CT explained the difficulties identifying the start date of the development; developers change and the CIL calculation can radically significantly change the service has taken on board the advice to add a question to the application form to try and identify this person and this will improve the effectiveness. However DBC do not always know when work has commenced.
Cllr Tindall clarified that the issue here is not public avoiding payment but the need to develop processes for collection and make them more efficient.
CT went on to discuss the ‘assumption of liability notice’ and pointed out that while the developer is liable, this liability can pass down the developer chain and can even end up passed on to the purchaser. She requested that all officers and members alike should see this as their opportunity to be CIL inspectors and report when new developments begin work. CT admitted that they are developing more robust systems to identify the appropriate debtor and to pursue the debt. FJ added that all overdue debts would be dealt using our usual debt chasing procedures including a debt repayment plan. CT informed the committee that they now having regular meetings to identify the debtor and ensure CIL is collected.
Action – It was suggested that an update report be submitted in the future setting out the implementation of the audit recommendations and the results of the adoption of new practises.
Cllr Douris then returned to the issue of how the collected CIL monies are allocated. He would like to see shopping list of ‘shovel ready’ items using the CIL. NH advised we have a CIL strategy that has identifies key areas for its use (e.g 50% allocated to east Hemel Hempstead and the collection of a ‘critical mass’ amount which will amount to a meaningful sum to be used to ‘pump-prime’ large projects that will have a greater impact. The CIL Board will recommend the allocations to Cabinet who will approve its final allocations.
On a more general note Cllr Douris returned to the first two audit reports giving ‘Full / Full assessments. These make him nervous that DBC are drawing audit scope and conditions too tightly and we are getting easy answers. A Conlon agreed that the auditors’ natural reaction to full/full is suspicion and they then look at the adequacy of the processes being examined. NH was clear that he has told the auditors to be as wide ranging as possible to ensure his confidence in the robustness of the process. FJ also put forward that her experience would suggest that controls at DBC are effective.
That the reports and the opinions/recommendations of Internal Audit are noted.