To consider progress achieved in 2019/20 in delivering the Internal Audit Annual Plan, including one final Internal Audit Report and an update on progress achieved in implementing recommendations from previous internal audit reviews.
Peter Harrison, Internal Audit, introduced the Internal Audit Progress Report 2019/20. The report provided a summary of the progress against the Internal Audit Annual Plan as at December 2019.
Following the Internal Audit Plan’s approval by the Committee in April 2018, four assurance reviews had been finalised, with site work having commenced on one further review. Mr Harrison acknowledged slippage in the Plan and referred to the previous meeting of the Audit Committee when Members had been advised of resource implications within the Internal Audit Team. This situation remained ongoing, however, Mr Harrison, assured Members that the remaining reviews would be carried out within the financial year.
The report contained the executive summary of the one audit report completed in the period: Assurance Review of Risk Management. This high-level review had considered the arrangements in place for the identification and management of risks, including the identification of controls and actions designed to mitigate risk. The review had resulted in an assessment of reasonable assurance, with five important and two routine action points having been identified. In response to a query regarding the small amount of risks identified on the Operational Risk Register, Mr Harrison explained that, although formal benchmarking was not carried out with other authorities, his personal experience meant that he was aware that South Lakeland’s number was low in comparison to others. He suggested that Internal Audit would expect to see more risks for each operational area, however, stressed that this should not be turned into a major industry, particularly with the recent changes in officer roles and responsibilities. Concern having been expressed at the five important action points, the Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources explained that this was a fair audit. He recognised the small number of identified risks in service plans and that they needed to be revisited. He suggested the need to look at training for staff in relation to fraud risk and also informed of improvements which had already been made in identification of risks, for example the approach taken in the Customer Connect Programme. He added that service plans were due to be revamped as a result of the new operating arrangements. The Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources accepted the findings of the report and advised that the actions would be taken forward.
Internal Audit had also assessed the extent to which previous internal audit recommendations had been implemented. The report showed that 17 recommendations were yet to be implemented. Five were on target and there were 12 in progress where the original target dates had not been met. 21 recommendations had been implemented and were now considered closed. The Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources acknowledged the outstanding actions, pointing out that some relating to technology were reliant on the installation of new systems. In response to a request from the Chairman, he undertook to arrange for a full report on action being taken in relation to outstanding recommendations to be brought to the next meeting of the Committee.
RESOLVED – That the following be noted:-
(1) the progress achieved in 2019/20 in delivering the Audit Plan and the outcomes of completed audit reviews, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report;
(2) the audit report, as set out in Appendix 2 to the report; and
(3) the status of outstanding recommendations contained within the follow up report, as set out in Appendix 3 to the report.