Agenda and minutes

General Purposes & Audit Committee - Wednesday, 27th January, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: This meeting is held remotely; to view the meeting, please click here.

Contact: Michelle Ossei-Gerning
020 8726 6000 x84246  Email:

No. Item


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.


There were none.


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.


There were no items of urgent business.


Council Meeting Dates 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

The dates for full Council are proposed to facilitate early production of the Council diary and to enable future planning of Council business for the 2021/22 Municipal Year.

Additional documents:


Officers spoke to the report of the dates for Council dairy in the 2021-2022 municipal year, highlighting that the Committee was to agree the dates of the Council meetings set out in the report. The report also noted the dates of the Cabinet meetings that had been set by the leader. The report also noted the remaining diary dates for all the various committees. The council diary dates for 2021-2022 had allowed the pre-election period in 2022 with not many meetings in April.


Members highlighted the comment made on the local elections and that the annual council was described as an indicative date. And I would suggest it would be moved back a week until the 30th May.


The Committee RESOLVED to:


1.1         Approve on behalf of the Council the schedule of Full Council meeting dates for 2021/2022 as detailed in paragraph 3.2 of the report;

1.2         Note the schedule of Cabinet meeting dates for 2021/22 as detailed in paragraph 3.3 of the report; and

1.3       Note the proposed schedule of remaining meeting dates for 2021/22 as detailed in Appendix 1.



Croydon Finance Review - Phase 1 Report - update on implementation pdf icon PDF 612 KB

The Croydon Finance Review - Phase 1 Report update is attached.


Officers present updated Members with an overview of the implementation of the Financial Review Phase 1 Report, which was commissioned in May 2020.


This first phase report reviewed three areas: 1 – Finance planning; 2 – Budget setting; and 3 – Budget monitoring processes and arrangements within the council.


With regards to the arrangements, the CIPFA financial management standards had been mandatorily adopted by local government as best practice standards, with effect from April 2020. The action plan set out alongside the seventy-five recommendations, recognised that it would take time to implement the recommendations and therefore officers prioritised those that were to be implemented quickly. This was how the recommendations were graded as priority 1 to priority 5.


Officers shared that the progress thus far indicated the key issues highlighted in paragraph 3.4 of the report were related to specific areas.


Since October 2020, some of the recommendations had been completed, there were others in progress and some had not been completed, and with the challenges faced, the team had worked very hard on this.


In detail, with regards to the Priority 1 recommendations, there had been improvements in the financial governance and new budget settings processes had been put in place. This followed from the development budget meetings held in autumn and a report would be brought to Cabinet in March 2021.


A lot of work had been done on the medium term financial strategy which was also one of the recommendations that came from the report in the public interest. This set out the proposals to build up reserves over the next three years. The medium term financial strategy also had a contingency budget for both next year and future years, which was important for the organisation in the current circumstances. The council had received support from external advisors like CIPFA to help review the medium term financial strategy, provide feedback, challenge and support. Officers had also reviewed the financial risks of the organisation to ensure that they were reported and monitored monthly and quarterly at the various Cabinet and General Purpose and Audit Committee meetings for more transparency.


Officers highlighted the housing revenue accounts and indicated that the thirty year business plan was to be refreshed, and a new council wide asset management plan was being developed. The capital programme for the next three years was under review, which looked into the in-year capital programme with a view to reducing the capital programme, which ultimately would reduce the council’s borrowing. This item went to Cabinet ahead of the budget setting report in January 2021, where there was discussion on the budget monitoring. Officers advised that they had improved and increased the level of budget monitoring, with all areas due to be reviewed monthly from the start of the next financial year.


Officers also shared that a lot of work had gone into identifying savings. A number of substantial savings had gone into the budget this year, and the budget bill for next year would require even more  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59/20


Children's Service Complaint Report pdf icon PDF 254 KB

The Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman Report & Finding of Fault with Injustice is attached.


Officers spoke to the report and updated Members on the findings and recommendations following a complaint within Croydon Early Help and Children’s Social Care Services, which was passed to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO). This included another local authority Kent County Council which was also mentioned within the report.


Officers informed that following a referral that came to Children’s Social Care in June 2018, the response from Croydon had not met practice standards and was not child focused. The LGSCO was concerned of the cross boundary issues, where the young person resided in one local authority and the alleged perpetrator(s) resided in another local authority. The findings stated that Croydon did not carry a strategy discussion, pulling key professionals and protective agencies (such as police, health, schools) together to agree a plan, actions and timescales in carrying out different tasks.


In Croydon, this did not happen and the strategy meeting did not take place and thus there was no coordinated approach from Croydon and the other local authority to fulfil clear roles and responsibilities.


The LGSCO recommendations was to carry out an audit of fifty similar cases where there were cross boundary issues, to ensure that correct procedures were adhered to,  putting the young person at the centre of all decision making, and that they were right and proper.


The review and findings needed to be reported back to the LGSCO upon completion; further, with similar practice found, a wider audit was to be conducted. Officers concluded that senior officers were conducting the review which was to take place in February. Findings from the audit was to return to GPAC, the Safeguarding Partnership and the Improvement Board.


Cllr Flemming arrived at the meeting at 8:14pm.


Members raised questions in relation to the learning of audits and professional curiosity. Officers advised that there was a bi-monthly programme of audits and twice yearly practice week session of audits that reviewed work across Children’s Social Care and Early Help. In the last year the proportion was made up of senior managers, which was very good, with a small proportion that required improvement, and one that was inadequate though it did not identify with the same issues that the LGSCO reported. This instance was therefore noted as an exception rather than a general matter of concern; though much learning was to be taken from this, and officers added that across the service this was not indicative of wider issues around poor practice and lack of professional curiosity. Further, officers highlighted that the service proposed to conduct through the multi-agency lens, a similar audit of activity at the front door service, with police and health partners, who would also be involved at strategy meetings.


Questions were raised by Members whether the Committee would be able to have sight and monitor the findings of the case going forward and officers responded informing that the findings of the audit would allow the Continuous Improvement Board chaired by external multi-agency, which will get over sight  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60/20


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.”



This was not required.