To receive the Annual Governance Statement 2019/20.
The Committee received the Annual Governance Statement.
During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:
· The Assistant Director Governance indicated that the Annual Governance Statement was in draft form and it was an opportunity for the Audit Committee to feed into the process. The AGS formed part of the Financial Statements which the Committee would consider later in the year.
· The Assistant Director Governance highlighted the five areas identified in the previous year’s Annual Governance Statement as requiring improvement, and their current status. He went on to highlight the improvement plan for the future year.
· Councillor Burgess questioned what the issue was around the use of market supplements and honorariums. The Assistant Director Governance responded that it was ensuring that the policies were consistently and fairly applied across the Council. This would be addressed within the new People’s Strategy.
· Councillor Burgess was of the view that the results of the internal audit of equalities should be referenced as it had been rated as a 3.
· Councillor Gee commented that the revenue capital monitoring reports were only considered by the Executive. She felt that there should be scrutiny of this matter prior to its consideration by the Executive and for this area to be strengthened. The Assistant Director Governance indicated that overview and scrutiny had previously scrutinised the budget proposals and would be doing so again. The Audit Committee received assurance via the Internal Audit team on the Council’s major financial systems, and also via external audit with regards to the Financial Statements. Councillor Gee commented that the Audit Committee looked at treasury management and that she was of the view that the Committee should also consider capital monitoring. It was suggested that this proposal be considered by the Constitution Review Working Group.
· Councillor Gee stated that if a decision was taken to do something then the Public Sector Equality Duty had to be taken into account, but not if a decision was taken not to do something. The Assistant Director Governance agreed to refer the matter to the Equalities Champions and the scrutiny committee that would be looking at the matter of equalities.
· In response to a question from Councillor Ross, the Assistant Director Governance explained that the Council would be compliant in relation to home to school transport appeal arrangements once a new appeal process was fully implemented.
· Councillor Shepherd-DuBey stated that there needed to be a mechanism for escalating issues relating to the Public Sector Equality duty.
· Councillor Shepherd-DuBey was of the view that the property investment process was not sufficiently transparent. She also felt that a number of matters had been put forwards without prior scrutiny or audit consideration or visible business cases. The Assistant Director Governance indicated that Internal Audit could be asked to look at the property investment process. With regards to the decisions and business cases, he would discuss with the Chief Executive and Directors, whether it should be included in the Annual Governance Statement.
· Councillor Gee suggested that the Committee not vote on the second recommendation of the report as the Annual Governance Statement was currently in draft. The updated Annual Governance Statement would be considered as part of the Financial Statements and a progress report would be taken to the November meeting.
· It was suggested that the third recommendation be amended.
1) the draft 2019/20 AGS be considered, and any specific matters which should be brought to the attention of Council or Executive identified.
2) requests that update reports be provided to the Audit Committee summarising progress in achieving an governance improvement action plan, on those areas identified as requiring action in the AGS Improvement Plan as contained in this report, and any additional actions added as a result of this plan going from draft to final.