To consider the results of the review of the Council’s Local Code of Governance.
The review of the Local Code of Governance was presented by the Financial Services Manager.
Under the Accounts and Audit Regulations (2015), the Council was required to review the effectiveness of the system of internal control annually and report this through an Annual Governance Statement. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) had published a revised version of their governance framework for local authorities. This counted as proper practice and was to be applied for financial years from 1 April 2016 onwards. The new framework had been re-arranged from the previous framework’s six principles to seven, in line with CIPFA’s broader International Framework: Good Governance in the Public Sector (2014).
The Local Code approved in December 2015 and Annual Governance Statement (AGS) had been prepared under the new framework for 2016/17 and 2017/18. During 2017/18 the Council’s internal auditors had undertaken a review of the Local Code and had concluded that there was reasonable assurance but that the existing procedures could be streamlined. The recommendations had been:-
· To evidence greater alignment with the Guidance, self-assessment be made against each of the Guidance's suggested Examples of Behaviours and Actions, rather than (or as well as) against the adopted sub-principles of its Local Code.
· The Responsible Officer for each adopted sub-principle in the Local Code be referenced in all cases to the Officer's post, rather than to the Officer's name or a reference to the Constitution.
· The spreadsheet that is used to evidence compliance with the Local Code be updated to reflect the proposed changes to the Local Code that were presented to the Audit Committee and subsequently to Council in December 2017.
· The mapping of the Guidance behaviours and actions that demonstrate good governance in practice be mapped only to sub-principles in the Local Code that pertain to the same principle to which the behaviour and action relate.
· Each line in the Guidance's list of examples of systems, processes, documentation and other evidence demonstrating compliance be mapped to a referenced sub-principle, rather than being marked as duplicate.
The first three recommendations had been implemented in the AGS for 2017/18. The last two recommendations required changes to the Local Code of Governance itself.
There had been one action added to the Local Code:-
· D14 - Consider social value when preparing service plans, considering procurement and commissioning and monitoring performance.
References to local area agreements had been removed and references to standards and guidance had been updated. The majority of amendments were to include behaviours and actions under all principles to which they applied. As a result some behaviours and actions were duplicated.
Appendix 3 to the report showed the CIPFA principles, sub-principles, example behaviours and actions that demonstrate good governance in practice and examples from the CIPFA guidance with the Local Code reference for each.
An action plan to address areas for improvement in the Council’s governance arrangements had been presented as part of the approved 2017/18 AGS. This had been presented to Audit Committee on 25 July 2018. Appendix 4 provided an update on progress against the various actions.
RESOLVED – That
(1) the proposed revisions to the Local Code of Governance, as at Appendix 1 to the report, be noted;
(2) Council be recommended to approve the amended Code, as at Appendix 2 to the report; and
(3) the Annual Governance Statement Action Plan, as at Appendix 3 to the report, be noted.