Agenda and minutes

Joint Audit and Governance Committee
Monday, 26 September 2016 6.30 pm

Venue: Meeting Room 1, 135 Eastern Avenue, Milton Park, Milton, OX14 4SB

Contact: Ron Schrieber, Democratic Services officer 

Items
No. Item

16.

Apologies

Minutes:

Dudley Hoddinott and John Walsh tendered apologies.

17.

Declarations of interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests and other interests in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting.

Minutes:

None.

18.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 172 KB

To adopt and sign as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 4 July 2016 (attached).

Minutes:

RESOLVED: to adopt as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 4 July 2016 and agree that the chairman signs them as such.

19.

Urgent items

Minutes:

None.

20.

Statements, petitions and questions received from members of the public

Minutes:

None.

21.

Audit Results Report 2015-16 pdf icon PDF 199 KB

To consider the report of EY (attached).

Minutes:

The committee considered the external auditor’s 2015/16 audit reports for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils.

 

Adam Swain, of EY, reported that one unadjusted audit difference had been identified in the South Oxfordshire draft financial statements and that, with regard to value for money, the tendering for a new corporate services contract with three other local authorities had been identified as a significant risk for both Councils.

 

EY had concluded that both Councils had put in place appropriate arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources in 2015/16.

 

RESOLVED: to note the annual audit report from the external auditor.

22.

Statement of accounts 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 117 KB

RECOMMENDED: to agree that the chairmen sign the South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse Statement of Accounts 2015/16 (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered the South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse statements of accounts 2015/16.  These set out the financial statements required to meet the international financial reporting standards, guidance from the external auditor, and guidance from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. 

 

The head of finance had approved the 2015/16 statements of accounts for both South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Council for external audit on 24 June 2016, ahead of the required deadline of 30 June.  The audit of those statements had now been completed.  Following an informal training session for members of this committee, revised statements were now presented to the committee for approval.

 

A typographical error on the Vale statement was corrected at the meeting.

 

RESOLVED: to

 

(a)          approve the statement of accounts for South Oxfordshire District Council for 2015/16, as amended, for signature by the chairman of this meeting of the committee.

 

(b)          approve the statement of accounts for Vale of White Horse District Council for 2015/16, as amended, for signature by the chairman of this meeting of the committee and by the co-chairman from Vale of White Horse District Council.  

23.

Annual governance statement 2015/16 - South Oxfordshire pdf icon PDF 205 KB

To consider South Oxfordshire’s annual governance statement 2015/16 (attached).


RECOMMENDED: To approve South Oxfordshire District Council’s Annual
Governance Statement 2015/16 to form part of the statement of accounts.

Minutes:

The committee considered the annual governance statement for 2015/16. This set out how the council had met the requirements of good governance over the year, and suggested areas for improvement in 2016/17. 

 

RESOLVED: to approve South Oxfordshire District Council’s annual governance statement 2015/16 to form part of the statement of accounts. 

24.

Annual governance statement 2015/16 - Vale of White Horse pdf icon PDF 194 KB

To consider Vale of White Horse’s annual governance statement 2015/16 (attached).


RECOMMENDED: To approve Vale of White Horse District Council’s Annual
Governance Statement 2015/16 to form part of the statement of accounts.

Minutes:

The committee considered the annual governance statement for 2015/16.  This set out how the council had met the requirements of good governance over the year, and suggested areas for improvement in 2016/17. 

 

RESOLVED: to approve Vale of White Horse District Council’s annual governance statement 2015/16 to form part of the statement of accounts. 

25.

Letter of representation to the external auditor - South Oxfordshire pdf icon PDF 176 KB

RECOMMENDED: to agree that the chairman signs the letter of representation to the external auditor (attached).

Minutes:

The committee considered the letter of representation to the external auditor, as part of the process in completing the statement of accounts.

 

RESOLVED: to agree that the chairman of this committee meeting sign the letter of representation to the external auditor.

26.

Letter of representation to the external auditor - Vale of White Horse pdf icon PDF 185 KB

RECOMMENDED: to agree that the chairman signs the letter of representation to the external auditor (attached).

Minutes:

The committee considered the letter of representation to the external auditor, as part of the process in completing the statement of accounts.

 

RESOLVED: to agree that the co-chairman from the Vale of White Horse District Council sign the letter of representation to the external auditor.

27.

Internal audit activity report - second quarter 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 293 KB

To consider the report of the assurance manager (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered the assurance manager’s report on internal audit activity during the second quarter 2016/17.  This summarised the outcomes of recent audit activity.  Five audits had been completed during the quarter, one of which, regarding joint risk management 2016/17, had received limited assurance.

 

Joint Risk Management 2016/17

 

The committee considered the main findings and recommendations of the internal audit report. Unfortunately, a small section of the report had been omitted from the printed copies so would be recirculated to members.

 

In response to members’ questions, the committee was advised that:

 

·         Internal audit carried out a six monthly follow up on all non-financial and non-key financial audits to establish the implementation status of agreed recommendations.  All key financial system recommendations were followed up as part of the annual assurance cycle.

·         The corporate services outsourcing had resulted in a reduction in the number of Council staff.  This meant that if staff were diverted to a one off event, e.g. a snap general election, there was an increased risk of other essential work not being completed.

·         The current risk management strategy was under review and would be submitted to the committee’s March 2017 meeting for approval.

 

Vale of White Horse, West Way, Botley, August 2016

 

The committee considered the findings from an investigation conducted by internal audit in relation to the West Way development, Botley.

 

The investigation had concluded that:

 

·         There were some minor control weaknesses with the end to end consultation process, and internal audit had identified concerns with the analysis of the consultation responses.  Whilst internal audit did not consider the concerns significant enough to change the overall outcome of the consultation report, it concluded that the council’s analysis of the responses was not executed effectively, it was not well presented and the consultation report was open to different interpretations. 

 

·         Whilst no illegality had occurred, there had been communication, information sharing and decision making at a cabinet, committee and councillor briefing level which indicated a conflict of interest and/or the appearance of bias.  It was identified that five councillors discussed and made decisions in relation to planning and property matters concerning the West Way development.

 

The committee was advised that the heads of planning and legal and democratic services had accepted the recommendations and had already taken steps to implement them.

 

 

Overdue recommendations

 

Appendix 2 to the report summarised all overdue recommendations within each service area.

 

The committee was informed that, due to a re-allocation of recommendations from corporate strategy and leisure to HR, IT, technical services, economy, property and corporate policy, the former’s overdue recommendations had fallen from 38% to zero whilst the latter’s had increased from 45 to 50%. In addition, the implementation of recommendations by planning services had resulted in a reduction from 91 to 75% in its overdue recommendations.

 

The head of planning reported on the steps his service was taking to implement overdue recommendations and assured the committee that this would be reflected in the statistics in the next few months.

 

RESOLVED:  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

Internal audit management report quarter two 2016/2017 pdf icon PDF 146 KB

To consider the report of the assurance manager (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered the assurance manager’s management report on internal audit for the second quarter of 2016/17. 

 

The report also detailed the flexible allocation that had been made for 5 councils’ partnership assurance work as agreed with the external auditor.

 

RESOLVED: to note the internal audit management report for the second quarter of 2016/17. 

29.

Audit and governance work programme pdf icon PDF 138 KB

To review the work programme (attached).

Minutes:

The committee reviewed and noted its work programme which set out matters scheduled for consideration at future meetings.

 

It was noted that the risk management strategy would be submitted to the March 2017 meeting.

30.

Exclusion of the public including the press

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public, including the press, be excluded from the remainder of the meeting to prevent the disclosure to them of exempt information, as defined in Section 100(I) and Part 1 of Schedule 12A, as amended, to the Act when the following item is considered.

31.

Application of restrictions imposed by Section 157 of the Housing Act 1985 in South Oxfordshire - consideration of the local government ombudsman's report

To consider the head of HR, IT and technical services’ report (attached).

Minutes:

The committee considered the further report of the local government ombudsman on two complaints from South Oxfordshire residents concerning a restriction on the sale of properties under s157 of the Housing Act 1985.

 

Councillor Robert Simister addressed the committee.

 

RESOLVED: to not accept the local government ombudsman’s recommendations and to refer them to the South Oxfordshire Council meeting for consideration.