Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Covid-19 had had, and continued to have, a widespread impact on local authority service demand, service delivery and spending throughout the country. The Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) presented a detailed report reviewing the changes to the Council’s finances and governance arrangements as a result of Covid-19.
The report provided information around actions that had been taken to ensure that the Council’s priorities were delivered during the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst still ensuring that suitable internal controls were considered:-
• new delegations;
• virtual meetings;
• remote working;
• procurement and acceptance of tenders;
• grants schemes;
• treasury management;
• income collection;
• accounting and budgeting; and
• service delivery and working collaboratively.
The Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) explained that the information would be fed into the Annual Governance Statement which she would be preparing in April 2021 as part of the accounts to detail the impact of Covid-19 and the actions taken by the Council.
Staff having been commended for their remarkable work during the Covid-19 pandemic, a question was raised as to whether central Government expected local authorities to fund the administration of grants. The Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) informed Members that the Council was due to receive £170,000 towards administration of the processes. At the moment, that was the only area where specific new burdens grants to reflect the administrative burden had been announced. She was of the opinion that the figure of £170,000 compared to additional costs was quite generous, however, if compared to the total staffing costs, it probably did not fully cover the costs incurred by the Council. She stressed, however, that it was good that there had been recognition of the costs.
The Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer), having at this point been informed by a member of her team, was able to confirm receipt of the £170,000 funding.
The Chairman acknowledged the work carried out by officers during this stressful time and asked the Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) to pass on the Audit Committee’s thanks to her Team. The Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) explained that most of the work had been carried out by other teams, led by the Economic Development Team, with staff from throughout the Council having helped to get the grants turned around and the Finance Team having simply paid out the awards at the end of the process. She undertook to pass on the Committee’s thanks and the Chairman further asked the Chief Executive to do the same.
No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was
RESOLVED – That the actions taken as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic be noted.
Publication date: 15/10/2020
Date of decision: 17/09/2020
Decided at meeting: 17/09/2020 - Audit Committee