Agenda item

Internal Audit Progress Report 2020/21

To consider progress achieved in 2020/21 in delivering the Internal Audit Plan, including one final Internal Audit Report and an update on progress achieved in implementing recommendations from previous internal audit reviews.

Minutes:

Peter Harrison, Internal Audit introduced the internal Audit Progress Report 2020/21. The report provided a summary of the progress against the internal Audit Annual Plan as at April 2021.

 

Following the Internal Audit Plan’s approval by Committee in September 2020, ten assurance reviews had been finalised and the report contained the executive summaries that had been completed since the last meeting. These executive summaries of the ten audit reports completed in the period covered: Payroll, Performance Management, Insurance, Bereavement Services, Creditor Payments, Members Declarations of Interest, Disabled Facilities Grant, NNDR, Council Tax and Lake Services. These reports were also presented by the Internal Audit Manager.

 

He informed Members that the Assurance Review of Payroll had received Reasonable Assurance, with one important action point having been identified. Processes had been put in place to prevent repetition of the issue which related to a single payment wrongly backdated as part of an ‘exceptional pay award’.

 

The Assurance Review of Performance Management had received Substantial Assurance and it was felt that the Council’s performance measures were updated on a timely basis and were clearly linked to the Council Plan. Similarly the Assurance Review of Insurances received a Substantial Assurance and the report found that there were sensible mitigating actions taken to help reduce the number of insurance claims against the Council.

 

The Internal Audit Manager informed Members that the Assurance Review of Bereavement Services had received a Reasonable Assurance with five Important Action Points having being identified. Testing identified the need to strengthen supporting documentation and to draft an Annual Plan for the Grounds Maintenance Service.

 

The Assurance Review of Creditor Payments also received a Reasonable Assurance, with one Important Action Point having being identified. The Internal Audit Manager highlighted that this related to the need to deliver a formal programme of fraud awareness training, he informed Members that fraud has been a regular feature at finance team meetings but felt that a more formal training programme would be more suitable.

 

Similarly, the Assurance Review of Member’s Interests and Declarations had received a Reasonable Assurance with two Important Action Points having being identified. These related to a lack of evidence of the retention of signed agreements to the Code of Conduct and the need for the Gifts and Hospitality disclosures being reported to the Standards Committee annually.

 

The Assurance Review of Disabled Facilities Grants also received a Reasonable Assurance with one Important Action Point having being identified. This related to the need to review the Constitution which would help to clarify the application of Contract Procedures Rules.

 

The Internal Audit Manager informed Members that the Assurance Review of NNDR had also received a Reasonable Assurance with one Important Action Point having being identified, which linked to a high number of outstanding work items linked to NNDR and Council Tax. He informed Members that the Assurance Review of Council Tax also received a Reasonable Assurance with one Important Action Point being identified, which was also linked to the high number of work items that were outstanding.

 

The final Assurance Review, which covered Lake Services also received a Reasonable Assurance with one Important Action Point having being identified. The Internal Audit Manager highlighted that this was linked to how encroachments were determined and the accuracy and consistency of the determinations.

 

The Internal Audit Manager informed Members that since the November 2020 Audit Committee meeting, 17 recommendations had been implemented with 21 still outstanding. He added that by and large, this was on track but that there had been some slippage mainly due to the impact of Covid-19.

 

In response to a question relating to State Aid and the impact of Brexit, the Legal, Governance and Democracy Specialist (Deputy Monitoring Officer) informed Members that following the end of the Brexit transition  period, the UK had new subsidy control rules to follow and agreed to provide an update to Councillor Chris Hogg in the form of a written response.

 

No Member having raised any concern when asked by the Chairman, it was

 

RESOLVED – that the following be noted:-

 

(1)  progress achieved in 2020/21 in completing the Audit Plan and the outcomes of completed audit reviews as set out in Appendix 1;

 

(2)  the audit reports, as set out in Appendix 2; and

 

(3)  the summary progress achieved in implementing recommendations from previous internal audit reviews, as set out in Appendix 3.

Supporting documents: