Agenda and minutes

General Purposes & Audit Committee
Thursday, 4th April, 2019 6.30 pm, NEW

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX. View directions

Contact: Michelle Gerning
020 8726 6000 x84246  Email: michelle.gerning@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1/19

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 85 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 6 December 2018 as an accurate record.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 6 December 2018 were approved as a true and accurate record of the decisions taken subject to the following change being made:

 

·                     33/18, bullet point 2 – the word ‘county’ corrected as ‘country’. 

 

2/19

Disclosure of Interests

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.

Minutes:

There were no disclosures made.

 

3/19

Urgent Business (if any)

To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

4/19

Grant Thornton Reports pdf icon PDF 134 KB

To receive the Housing Benefit Subsidy Claim Certification, the Audit Plan 2018/2019 General Fund and the Audit Plan 2018/2019 Pension Fund.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Grant Thornton representative introduced the item and briefed the Committee on the External Audit Plan which included updates on the auditing framework.

 

There was specific reference to page 11 of the report which referenced a letter sent by Grant Thornton explaining the progress that had been made on the Housing Benefit Subsidy Claim submitted by the Council.

 

The Committee was informed that the final audit visits would take place in June and July 2019 and the Council’s requirements in preparation for this were listed on page 15 of the report. It was reported that any ‘clearly trivial’ matters regarding uncorrected omissions and misstatements identified during the auditing procedure would be reported to the Committee. Small errors would generally not be a focus. In regards to value for money arrangements, it was stated that there were two significant risks: the Council’s financial sustainability and the OFSTED inspection of Children’s Services.

 

The reporting officer also informed the Committee of the non-audit services which would be provided including the Audit Social Care index (the first year would be a free subscription) and general work completed outside of the contract agreements.

 

In response to questions Members of the Committee heard:

 

·           The Council was working with the auditors in order to downscale but this was a complex process

 

·           Brexit’s effect on the risk register will depend on what takes place in the 19/20 financial year. Areas such as Pension Fund Assets were less of a concern

 

·           The areas identified for value for money would be assessed using the Code of Audit Practice and other sources such as regulatory reports and questioning officers

 

·           The key metrics of other local authorities were monitored, although the arrangements for financial sustainability each one had in place was reported as varying greatly

 

·           Developments around Brexit would continue to be monitored

 

The Committee RESOLVED to note the contents of the Grant Thornton Report.

5/19

Presentation on an area of risk - Schools in Deficit pdf icon PDF 399 KB

A presentation on schools in deficit.

Minutes:

This item was not considered.

6/19

Internal Audit, Charter, Strategy and Plan pdf icon PDF 66 KB

The report of the Internal Audit Charter, Strategy and the Plan of audit work for 2019/20 is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Internal Audit introduced the item and informed the Committee of the Internal Audit Charter (Appendix 1), Strategy (Appendix 2) and Plan (Appendix 3).

 

This report was to be brought before the Committee for approval every year. Appendix 1 outlined what an internal audit purpose was and the responsibility of officers. It was noted that the Head of Internal Audit had no additional responsibilities and no conflicts of interest. Appendix 2 outlined the areas of focus for the Internal Audit Strategy and how recommendations were implemented. Appendix 3 showed a table of the proposed Internal Audit Plan for computer, contract and school audits amongst others which were to begin in April 2019.

 

In response to questions, the Head of Internal Audit said that when determining which schools needed auditing, the Council would check whether a new Head Teacher had recently started, when the last audit check was conducted and the outcome of this.

 

The Committee RESOLVED to approve the Internal Audit Charter (Appendix 1), Strategy (Appendix 2) and the plan of audit work for 2019/20 (Appendix 3).

7/19

Internal Audit Update Report pdf icon PDF 87 KB

This report details the work completed by Internal Audit so far during 2018/19 and the progress made in implementing recommendations from audits completed in previous years.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Internal Audit introduced the item summarised the Internal Audit Report from April 2018 – January 2019.

 

In response to questions the Committee was informed that there were periods during which the capacity of the Audit Manager varied and the Auditors struggled to obtain information for the internal audit. However those were not issues that had prevented staff from completing the task.

 

The Committee RESOLVED to note the Internal Audit Report for April 2018 to January 2019.

8/19

Anti-Fraud Update Report pdf icon PDF 102 KB

This report details the performance of the Council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) and includes details of the team’s performance together with an update on developments during the period 1 April 2018 – 31 January 2019.

Minutes:

The Head of Anti-Fraud introduced the item and informed the Committee that the Anti-Fraud Team was on target for 2018/19. The report contained a number of case studies which demonstrated the work carried out by the Council for partner housing associations.

 

It was noted that not every local authority supported fraud investigation for housing associations; Croydon Council provided this service due to the importance of reclaiming homes for families to live in. In some instances, Croydon had assisted other boroughs, such as Lambeth and Merton, in their investigations. Furthermore, housing cases varied greatly and therefore so did the outcomes.

 

It was stated that there were successful outcomes; some fraud allegations were more difficult to investigate than others such as those relating to sub-letting and the use of Blue Badge permits.

 

In response to questions, the Committee heard that:

 

·           The costs for the FTEs were difficult to quantify as some cases were won much quicker than others.

·           Reducing temporary accommodation would help the Anti-Fraud Team make savings and improve quality of life for residents.

·           The Anti-Fraud Team were considering using new tools to improve performance such as the Fraud Hub, which utilizes analytics. It was planned to bring a report to the Committee once use of this new system had gone live.

·           Staff were trained to tackle fraud using cases to build their experience. They would have the opportunity to develop their skills within banks and post offices.

·           An item on London-wide anti-fraud activity and how local authorities work together was expected to be presented to the Committee in approximately six months.

 

The Committee RESOLVED to note the Anti-Fraud activity of the Corporate Anti-Fraud Team for the period 1 April 2018 – 31 January 2019.

9/19

Corporate Risk Register pdf icon PDF 89 KB

The report updates the General Purposes & Audit Committee Members on the corporate risk register as at 4 April 2019.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Risk introduced this item and summarised the table of contents found in Appendix 1 of the report.

 

It was stated that risk had been identified in the special education budget and that the future risk ratings would be effected by Brexit depending on how things developed.

 

In response to questions, it was clarified that the Corporate Risk Register was reviewed on a quarterly basis. Escalated risks were brought back regularly to evaluate whether the actions taken to reduce risks were successful.

 

The Director of Finance, Investment and Risk confirmed that the existing controls for tackling risk scenarios were always evolving and that the risk assessment of schools in deficit could be brought back to the Committee.

 

The Committee RESOLVED to note the contents of the corporate risk register as at April 2019.

10/19

General Purpose and Audit Committee Draft Annual Report 2018-2019 pdf icon PDF 196 KB

The General Purposes and Audit Committee Draft Annual Report 2018-2019 is attached.

Minutes:

The Chair introduced the item and informed the Committee of the GPAC Draft Annual Report, which provided details of the Committee’s role.

 

In response to questions, members were informed that this report was drafted in accordance with the Constitution and needed to go to Full Council for consideration.

 

The Committee RESOLVED to approve the General Purposes & Audit Committee Draft Annual Report 2018/19.

11/19

In-year Appointments pdf icon PDF 60 KB

This report is to note the changes to appointments.

Minutes:

The Director of Finance, Investment and Risk introduced the item and informed the Committee of the in-year appointments that had been made which included appointments to vacancies and outside bodies. 

 

The Committee RESOLVED to note the in-year appointments listed in the report.

12/19

Exclusion of Public and Press

The following motion is to be moved and seconded where it is proposed to exclude the press and public from the remainder of a meeting:

 

“That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.”

 

Minutes:

This was not required.