Agenda and minutes

Audit & Governance Committee - Thursday, 19th October, 2023 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katherine Street, Croydon, CR0 1NX

Contact: Hannah Cretney, Democratic Services  Email:

No. Item


Disclosure of Interests

Members are invited to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) they may have in relation to any item(s) of business on today’s agenda.


There were none.



Minutes of the Previous Meeting

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 21 September 2023 as an accurate record of the proceedings.


Draft minutes to follow.


The Committee noted that the minutes of the previous meeting would be approved by at the 30 November 2023 meeting.


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.


Audit & Governance Committee Action Log pdf icon PDF 53 KB


Audit & Governance Committee Work Programme 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 225 KB


Dave Phillips, Head of Internal Audit advised the Committee the initial Assurance Mapping of the Committee Work Programme report would be circulated to committee members via the Chair ahead of the 30 November 2023 Committee meeting. It was noted that the Committee members would have ownership of the document.

Officers advised the note included on the Work Programme to ‘Update the Committee on Fairfield Halls when information became available’ was captured following discussions at a previous Committee meeting, the Kroll report remained with the Police and there was no update at present. 



Annual Governance Statement 2022/23 and Action Plan pdf icon PDF 156 KB

The Council must conduct a review, at least annually, of the effectiveness of its systems of internal control and prepare an Annual Governance Statement reporting on the review with the Statement of Accounts. This report sets out the Council’s Annual Governance Statement (AGS) 2022/23 for the period ending March 2023 and the Statement includes the Council’s significant challenges and risk, the governance arrangement and internal controls in place, and improvements required which are set out in the AGS 2023/24 Action Plan.


The Committee is asked to consider and approve: a) the draft Annual Government Statement 2022/23 and Action Plan; b) the Local Code of Corporate Governance; and c) the Governance Framework. 

Additional documents:



Stephen Lawrence-Orumwense, Director of Legal and Monitoring Officer gave the Committee a presentation on the Annual Governance Statement 2022/23 (AGS) and Action Plan.


Councillor Jason Cummings, Cabinet Member for Finance noted the complexity of Croydon’s Annual Governance Statement (AGS) in comparison with other Local Authorities. The scale of actions from external reports incorporated in the AGS Action Plan reflected the historical issues in Croydon. There had however been significant improvements to the council’s governance arrangements, these were acknowledged in the Improvement and Assurance Panel (IAP) Exit Strategy report.


Officers noted the Committee had received reporting on the issues included in the AGS throughout the year and similarly the council’s internal control board continuously reviewed the various areas of improvement. The IAP utilised the AGS Action Plan and tracker to evidence the progress and embeddedness of improvements within the council. The future aim was to make the AGS a more accessible document once the legacy issues had been resolved. The AGS provided a useful overview of the council’s governance arrangements.


The Committee commented on the comprehensive reporting of the council’s governance arrangements, the helpful inclusion of colour coding, actions and impacts. It was suggested that future AGS reporting should include action’s prioritisation and risks to highlight areas which may undermine the work being done. Also where actions were in progress, some narrative of the steps needed for completion would be useful.


In response to questions from the Committee officers advised the AGS gave the Monitoring Officers opinion on the effectiveness of the council’s governance arrangements, it was for the Committee to decide whether to accept or reject this judgement.


Officers advised Corporate Directors and Heads of Service were engaged to account for progress on actions and to complete the document. Cllr Cummings commented that the process of capturing all the improvement actions together provided assurance that nothing would be missed.


The Committee queried amber (ongoing) actions where the completion deadline had passed and if plans were in place to progress these swiftly. Officers advised the Committee would receive regular updates on AGS Action plan, with the next update scheduled for the February 2024 meeting.


In response to questions, Officers advised the three key areas of higher risk were Housing, Finance and general transformational activities across the council. Many of the resolved initial recommendations had prompted subsequent actions requiring ongoing completion. 


The Committee raised concerns regarding improvements to Information Governance where the Freedom of Information (FOI) and Subject Access Request (SAR) targets were not being met, this was an area which had not been prioritised for many years. Officers advised the Information Management Internal Control Board met regularly and had oversight of all ongoing work to ensure compliance in this area. The risks attached to Information Management were noted with the Council current in receipt of an enforcement notice from the Information Commissioners Office. The retrospective nature of the document was noted and officers agreed to update the information management work and illustrate the culture change which had taken place in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27/22


Corporate Risk Register pdf icon PDF 126 KB

The report updates the Audit & Governance Committee Members on the corporate risk register (the register) as at October 2023.


The Committee is asked to:

Note the contents of the corporate risk register as at October 2023.

Additional documents:


Malcolm Davies, Head of Insurance, Anti-Fraud & Risk introduced the Corporate Risk Register report to the Committee.


The Committee requested assurance on the processes in place to reduce red risks through the introduction of new control actions if required. Officers noted improvements were needed to ensure deadlines for future control actions were met. Improvements under the new risk management system had been implemented to address this, a control measure target deadline was now a mandatory field for completion by risk owners and could be used by Corporate Directors to hold risk owners accountable.


The Committee raised concerns around risks within the report where control measure target dates were in the past and queried if this was due to a lack of engagement by officers. Officers advised improvements to ensure the correct risks where on the register with the appropriate rating had been completed but work was ongoing to support capacity and cultural prioritisation of risk issues by officers.



Members asked whether the risks regarding temporary and exempt accommodation providers were captured on the risk register, noting these risks could affect some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents and had potential financial impacts for the council. Officers advised exempt accommodation had been area of focus in 2022/23 as it had caused a financial overspend. A project had been initiated in 2022 to address the issues regarding support exempt accommodation, this had included information sharing with Birmingham council. At present the project was on track to deliver £1.6 million in savings this financial year. The council was working with all exempt accommodation providers in the borough to change the financial model. This would achieve compliance with both support expectations and housing benefit regulations, enabling the council to claim the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) grant. The team was working with neighbouring local authorities to ensure consistency in their approach where service providers were delivering in multiple boroughs.


The Committee queried the speed of change in likelihood ratings within the register and questioned how objective owners had been in assessing likelihood of risks previously. Officers advised the risk framework guide was intended to clarify the rating levels for risk owners. The Risk Team challenged where high levels were not appropriate, encouraging use of the guidance which was more empirical.


On reprocurement risks, the Committee queried the scope, value and financial implications of the contracts in question. Officers advised contracts remained a challenge, work had been undertaken to complete the council’s contract register which demonstrated a larger number of upcoming renewals. There was now transparency on what needed to be done over the next three years however there could be financial implications on budgets where contracts had not been renewed.


The Committee heard a Deputy Cabinet Member for Contract Management had been appointed for this area of focus.Work was ongoing to embed the timely processes required for procurement and cultural understanding of this within the council. Cabinet was receiving quarterly updates as part of the new procurement process, this reporting provided greater  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28/22


Update on Oracle Improvements Programme pdf icon PDF 88 KB

The Audit and Governance Committee are referred to the Cabinet report at Appendix A.


A presentation will be given to update the committee on the progress with the Oracle Improvement Programme, slides attached at Appendix B.

For the reasons set out in the report Audit & Governance Committee are recommended to:

Receive the presentation and update.


Additional documents:


Mark Moody, My Resources Programme Lead delivered a presentation to the Committee providing an update on the Oracle Improvements Programme.

The Committee requested for organisational culture change to be included in the improvement programme’s guiding principles.

Members noted the issues which had taken place at Birmingham Council regarding Oracle change implementation and cost.

The Committee raised previous challenges to adopt software effectively in Croydon and queried whether there had been work undertaken to ascertain risks to all software across the council. Officers agreed software adoption was a difficult risk to manage within local authorities. The importance of culture change was embedded in the project, it had been in development for a year with 70 staff engaged via workshops at the early stages. Lead officer appointments for the project were individuals with track records in systems and culture change and the staff Change Management Network was being re-established. Other software systems required further work to assess usage and engagement by staff. The need for senior leaders to champion Oracle use to teams was noted.

The Committee requested assurance on the Value for Money and effective use all major software systems utilised to deliver internal and external services.

Officers agreed to include the user and culture issues in future Oracle Improvement Programme updates.

The Committee requested a review of the other software systems within the council, to be brought to Committee in the future.

In response to questions officers advised 4 lead posts had been appointed for the scoping stage of the project, with technical support resourcing included in the budget for the later stages. The 4 work stream leads had experience of implementing Oracle in other organisations and were supported by Croydon’s oracle support team and Mastek for technical support.

The Committee queried the Licensing costs of further Oracle implementation and if any finance or risk implications were anticipated. Existing unused licenses were being removed and other functionalities of Oracle would be utilised. Officers advised risks and financial implications would be identified during the scoping of the business case and included in the report to Cabinet in 2024.


Management adoption had been implemented in budget monitoring processes, but further improvements would support full adoption of the software as the project progressed.

The report to Cabinet was expected in March 2024 and the next update to the committee would coincide with this.


Cllr Cummings noted the improvements which had been made, and the expected further improvements once the project was completed.


The Committee RESOLVED, to:
Note the presentation and update.



Anti-Fraud Report pdf icon PDF 133 KB

This report and appendix details the performance of the Council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) together with an update on developments 1 April 2023 – 30 September 2023.


The Committee is asked to: Note the Anti-fraud activity of the Corporate Anti-Fraud Team for the period 1 April 2023 – 30 September 2023.


Additional documents:


Malcolm Davies, Head of Insurance, Anti-Fraud & Risk introduced the 6 Month Anti-Fraud Update report to the Committee. 


The Committee was pleased to see the inclusion of prevention and benchmarking in the report, areas previously requested by the committee. The challenge in evaluating the cost benefit of prevention work was noted.


Members were pleased to see the focus on guardianship of Croydon’s social housing stock and queried whether Registered Social Landlords (RSL) were also supported. Officers confirmed engagement work with RSLs was on the team’s work programme, they faced the same issues as the council did under the HRA but had less anti-fraud resourcing available. Officers agreed to include an update on this work in the next Anti-Fraud Update report.



The Committee RESOLVED, to:


Note the Anti-fraud activity of the Corporate Anti-Fraud Team for the period 1 April 2023 – 30 September 2023.