The Head of Internal Audit Shared Services presented a report thatinformed the Committee on Internal Audit’s performance for the period 1st April 2019 to 31st August 2019.
The Head of Internal Audit Shared Services asked the Committee to note that the report had been written at the end of August and that he would provide a verbal update where required.
Members’ attention was drawn to page 79 of the main agenda pack and the ‘Summary of Assurance Levels’, more specifically the audits with a ‘limited’ assurance level. It was highlighted that all ‘limited’ assurance reviews went before the Corporate Management team (CMT) for full consideration, with any potential risk to the Council and how to mitigate those risks.
The Head of Internal Audit Shared Services further informed the Committee that a follow up would be conducted on all of the actions, as detailed at Appendix 3 to the report, to ensure they had been implemented in order to provide a satisfactory control of the risks identified.
Following a lengthy debate, the Executive Director, Finance and Resources and the Head of Internal Audit Shared Services, responded and provided clarification to Members on the following items:-
· DWP Intervention – Processing times for new housing benefit claims, council tax Support claims. The DWP intervention was withdrawn on 16th September 2019. The DWP were no longer concerned and had complimented the work of the benefits team with addressing their initial concerns. Members were asked to note that additional management support to officers had been provided and that an interim management structure had been put in place to support the concerns raised by staff and the DWP. The processing times for new claims had significantly decreased, with processing times well within the average processing time.
· Health and Safety – A Senior Health and Safety advisor had been appointed, who had formulated a comprehensive and robust action plan to address the points raised in the audit. There would be a planned follow up audit in quarter 4.
· Risk Management – Zurich had been commissioned to assist with the compilation of the corporate risk register during October 2019.
· Transport – Untaxed vehicles, it was clarified that there was only one untaxed vehicle.
· What was in place for a potential terrorist attack?
Members expressed their concern with the number of audits with a ‘Limited’ assurance level. It was agreed that the Corporate Management Team (CMT) be asked to provide an action plan, which would include timescales for ‘Limited’ assurance level audits.
Although Members were mindful that a considerable amount of the findings detailed on the Health and Safety audit had been actioned, they had concerns that the Health and Safety (H & S) audit had highlighted that basic health and safety checks had not been in place. Members were of the opinion that H & S should be fully embedded in the Council, with an ethos on health and safety. The CMT was charged with and accountable for health and safety, effective leadership for Health and Safety was fundamental. The H & S audit had highlighted that the CMT appeared to be somewhat adrift from their corporate H & S responsibilities.
The Executive Director, Finance and Resources agreed to discuss the concerns raised by Members with the CMT.
The Executive Director, Finance and Resources responded and stated that lessons had been learnt in relation to Health and Safety issues. However, she would reassure Members that the appointed Senior Health and Safety advisor was fully aware of the audit findings; and as Members had already noted, a consideration amount of the findings had been addressed. A follow up audit would be conducted in quarter 4 and she would assure Members that the aim was for the assurance level to be improved.
The Head of Internal Audit Shared Services acknowledged the Committee’s comments that, the audit reports were somewhat difficult to navigate; and agreed to take this into account for future audit reports.
The following actions were agreed by the Committee:
· Page 90 of the main agenda report - “There was a high risk item set in 2016 which was not complete as of 11th June 2018. Review date stated mentions 2019”. The Executive Director, Finance and Resources to provide Committee Members with more detail.
· Any ‘Limited’ assurance audits that have taken place, information to be provided to Committee Members.
· The relevant Head of Service to be invited to attend any future meetings where a ‘Limited’ assurance level was given.
· The CMT to provide an action plan, to include timescales for ‘Limited’ assurance level audits.
· Terrorist attack - include on the Corporate Risk Register.
RESOLVEDthat the Internal Audit Progress Report be noted.