Venue: Court Room at Eastbourne Town Hall, Grove Road, BN21 4UG
Contact: Committee Services on 01323 410000
To confirm the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee.
The minutes of the last meeting, held on 12 July 2022, were confirmed as an accurate record.
Apologies for absence/declaration of substitute members
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Diplock.
Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPIs) by members as required under Section 31 of the Localism Act and of other interests as required by the Code of Conduct.
There were none.
Questions by members of the public.
On matters not already included on the agenda and for which prior written notice has been given (total time allowed 15 minutes).
There were none.
Urgent items of business.
The Chairman to notify the Committee of any items of urgent business to be added to the agenda.
There were none.
Right to address the meeting/order of business.
The Chairman to report any requests received to address the Committee from a member of the public or from a Councillor in respect of an item listed below and to invite the Committee to consider taking such items at the commencement of the meeting.
The Chair confirmed there were no requests to address the meeting.
External Audit Update
A verbal report of the external auditor, Deloitte.
Ola Owolabi, Deputy Chief Finance Officer, provided an update on the work of the external auditors, Deloitte. Ben Sheriff and Tanya Chikari, representing Deloitte, also addressed the Committee.
Ben Sheriff, Deloitte, advised Members that the audit had commenced in July with a mix of remote and site visits by the Deloitte Audit team, working with the Council’s Finance team. As not all of the information requested had been available, the planned timings for completion had moved back. The audit was progressing and, with support from the Finance Team, issues were being addressed. It was anticipated that the 2019/2020audit would be completed by the end of October and the focus would then move to the 2021 audit.
Ola Owolabi advised the Committee that time was being taken to ensure that the requests for information from Deloitte and reconciliations were being dealt with thoroughly. These areas had caused delays, however weekly progress meetings were taking place and the timetable revised with the expectation that the 2019/2020 Audit would be presented to the Committee on 23 November and the 2020/2021 Audit would be available in January 2023. The 2021/2022 Audit would be presented to the Committee’s 1 March meeting. The Finance Team was working closely with colleagues across the organisation and with Deloitte to provide responses to questions as quickly as possible.
The following points were highlighted during discussion:
· In terms of providing assurances that the revised timetable was realistic, Officers explained that meeting the specific format for reconciliations requested by the Auditors had taken considerable time. Now that had been provided, it was expected that the Audit for 2021/2022 would be easier and quicker to complete.
· Deloitte representatives explained that the time taken to provide the 2019/20 audit had been impacted by issues which surfaced during the testing of information. Many local government audits were experiencing similar challenges in respect of timings.
· Officers advised that providing additional or reformatted information and data also added time to the process. Each sample requested by the Auditors often included multiple accounting entries and the data behind each entry needed input from the relevant departments.
· Deloitte representatives stated that not all items requested to initiate the 2019/20 Audit had been available. Specific examples mentioned included papers for the 2020 ICE (Investment Company Eastbourne Ltd) Valuation, reconciliation of the trial balance and general ledger, and group accounts.
· Members expressed concern at the delays in providing the highlighted information requested and that internal requests to colleagues for data should be prioritised. Officers explained that the format for production of trial balances had needed to be changed to one that was acceptable to the Auditors.
· Officers explained the process through which the information requests from the Auditors was received and information provided. This highlighted that that timeframe between receipt of the request and the required date for returning information was not always practical.
· Members asked if there was anything that the Audit and Governance Committee could do to support the process of providing information requested by the ... view the full minutes text for item 20.
Report of the Chief Finance Officer.
Ola Owolabi, Deputy Chief Finance Officer, presented the report which provided details on the activities and performance of the Treasury Management service during April to June 2022/23. During discussion the following points were highlighted:
· Members were offered the opportunity for basic treasury management training.
· Officers were thanked for providing the report in a more understandable format and a number of abbreviations were clarified.
· Following discussion on the recommendations, Members expressed concern that part of the recommendation required acceptance that the Treasury Management Activities for the period 1 April to 30 June 2022 had been in accordance with the approved Treasury Strategies, when it was not known if this was the case. Stephen Gilbert suggested that the Committee recommend that Council accepts that Treasury Management Activities for the period 1 April to 30 June 2022 have been in accordance with the approved Treasury Strategies, based on assurances given by the Deputy Chief Finance Officer.
To note and agree to accept that Treasury Management Activities for the period 1 April to 30 June 2022 have been in accordance with the approved Treasury Strategies, based on assurances provided by the Deputy Chief Finance Officer.
Report of the Chief Internal Auditor.
Lee Ewan, Counter Fraud Investigations Manager, presented the report, which provided a summary of the activities of Internal Audit and Counter Fraud for the first quarter of the financial year 2022-2023 – 1st April 2021 to 30th June 2022. During discussion the following points were highlighted:
· As many businesses had come forward for grants due to Covid 19, particularly small businesses, the Council now had a clearer, updated picture of businesses in existence. Visits could once again take place to confirm details.
· Members discussed the indicators for the Stage Door Pub and expressed concern at their red status. Members requested an update and further detail on the status of the Stage Door pub in the next report.
1) To note the update on the work of Internal Audit and Counter-Fraud; and
2) To approve the draft Audit Charter; and
3) To approve the draft Code of Ethics for Internal Auditors.
Report of the Chief Internal Auditor.
Lee Ewan, Counter Fraud Investigation Manager, presented the report which detailed the outcomes of the quarterly review of the register by the Corporate Management Team (CMT).
The scoring in the red/amber/green (RAG) rating was explained to the Committee and how the likelihood/impact score was mitigated by internal controls to provide an overall RAG rating
During discussion, Members highlighted particular concerns over the following indicators:
· SR006 – the Council prevented from delivering services for a prolonged period of time.
· SR007 – the Council materially impacted by medium to long term effects of an event under the Civil Contingencies Act.
· SR010 - the Council suffers a personal data breach by inadequate handling of data or an I.T. incident.
Members were not satisfied that all internal controls detailed in appendix A of the report provided assurance and confirmed that they would welcome a report to the Committee, providing further detail on the indicators highlighted above.
1) To note the update to the strategic risk register; and
2) To request that officers provide a report relating to the robustness and reliability of the Council’s IT and communications systems, and that proportionate mitigation of those risks is in place.
Date of next meeting
The date of the next meeting was confirmed as Wednesday 23 November, at 6pm, in the Court Room at Eastbourne Town Hall.