Agenda item

Internal Audit - Progress Report


The Committee received an Internal Audit Progress Report from the Head of Worcestershire Internal Audit Shared Service. The report before the Committee summarised progress made against the delivery of the Internal Audit Plan 2023/24 as to the end of July 2023. It was noted that there were residual audits to complete from the 2022/23 Plan with one review finalised since the last Committee meeting relating to Benefits and further three reviews awaiting management sign off.


Regarding the 2023-24 Internal Audit Plan there was a small delay reported in July to two areas of audit work due to a key officer on extended leave. These two areas had now been progressed (as of the date of this meeting).


It was reported that National Fraud Initiative (NFI) data set uploads were planned for December 2023 and January 2024. The results from the 2022/23 uploads were currently being investigated by the various Service areas who were investigating and taking appropriate action on the results.


It was noted that there were several follow up audits due which would be reported to the next Committee meeting. There were no exceptions to report at this meeting.


The Head of Worcestershire Internal Audit Shared Service commented that routine meetings with the Head of Finance and Customer Services continued to provide ongoing monitoring of the situation around the financial ledger system.


Following the report presentation, the Committee discussed a number of matters relating to the report with the following comments and answers to questions noted:


·       It was explained that the internal audit service allocated indicative time budgets for each authority it had arrangements with. As Bromsgrove and Redditch had shared service arrangements the total budget was split equally between the two authorities, however, in some cases a professional judgment would need to be made to allocate less or more days to either authority. Any adjustments to the time budget allocation were discussed with the authority’s Section 151 Officer prior to implementation to ensure neither authority was adversely impacted. Within the internal audit plan, there were contingency time budgets in case such adjustments were required. It was reiterated that there were separate audit plans for Bromsgrove and Redditch.

·       Members asked whether the Council had whistleblowing and anti-fraud policies in place. Officers explained that such policies were in place and that, following comments from Members, there would be an action to make these policy documents more visible and accessible on the Council’s website.

·       It was reported that the Council had to hire a number of agency staff due to the high staff turnover experienced across the local government sector, especially in key finance positions. It was added that with agency staff the Council did not cover pension and certain other costs associated with an employee so there was a marginal cost benefit to the Council at the moment. It was added that whenever possible the Council tried to employ staff on a permanent basis, exemplified by agency staff in the finance team who recently transferred into the Council’s payroll.

·       In terms of the Council’s strategy to recruit and retain new staff, it was noted that the Council had recently launched a Workforce Strategy and as part of the last year’s budget process the Council had created career graded posts in certain areas. It was reported that where the Council hired apprentices they could not be contractually tied to stay at the Council.

·       It was noted that the Worcestershire Internal Audit Shared Service had a staff of 8 people. It was noted that in cases of a long-term sickness or absence of a staff member within the shared service team, there could be an impact on the delivery of the internal audit plans for the authorities under the arrangements. However, it was noted that any decisions on deferral or rearrangement of internal audit reviews would only be taken based on professional judgment and consultation with key Council Officers.


RESOLVED that the report be noted.

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