Agenda and draft minutes

Corporate Governance and Audit Committee - Friday, 25th March, 2022 2.00 pm

Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR

Contact: Helen Gray  0113 37 88657

Link: to view the meeting

Items
No. Item

Independent Member – Linda Wild

 

74.

Election of the Chair

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Maqsood…Councillor Walshaw attended the meeting as her named substitute.

 

In the absence of the Chair, Councillor Walshaw was nominated as Chair of the meeting.

RESOLVED – That Councillor Walshaw act as Chair for this meeting.

 

75.

Appeals Against Refusal of Inspection of Documents

To consider any appeals in accordance with Procedure Rule 15.2 of the Access to Information Procedure Rules (in the event of an Appeal the press and public will be excluded).

 

(*In accordance with Procedure Rule 15.2, written notice of an appeal must be received by the Head of Governance Services at least 24 hours before the meeting)

Minutes:

There were no appeals against the refusal of inspection of documents.

 

76.

Exempt Information - Possible Exclusion of the Press and Public

1  To highlight reports or appendices which officers have identified as containing exempt information, and where officers consider that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information, for the reasons outlined in the report.

 

2  To consider whether or not to accept the officers recommendation in respect of the above information.

 

3  If so, to formally pass the following resolution:-

 

  RESOLVED – That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following parts of the agenda designated as containing exempt information on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information, as follows:-

 

 

Minutes:

The agenda contained no exempt information requiring the exclusion of the press and public.

 

77.

Late Items

To identify items which have been admitted to the agenda by the Chair for consideration

 

(The special circumstances shall be specified in the minutes)

Minutes:

There were no late items.

 

78.

Declaration of Interests

To disclose or draw attention to any interests in accordance with Leeds City Council’s ‘Councillor Code of Conduct’.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

 

79.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 169 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting held 4th February 2022 as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the previous meeting held 4th February 2022 be approved.

 

80.

Matters Arising

Minutes:

Minute 69 – The Committee noted that the requested benchmarking data had been circulated by the Data Protection Officer on 7th February 2022.

 

Minute 71 - Mr Gareth Mills, External Auditors (Grant Thornton), provided an update on the work of the Auditors, noting receipt of some of the outstanding information required to complete the LCC audit, however the Auditors were also tasked with other non-Council related work which required prioritisation. The Committee noted the intention to complete the LCC work by week commencing 27th June 2022, once the remaining outstanding information was provided and once the Auditors work for the NHS was complete.

 

Mr Mills also highlighted additional work necessitated by the ongoing Valuation of Infrastructure Assets where the Regulator had identified some issues with some Local Authority’s accounting of infrastructure assets and the subsequent audits.

 

81.

Annual Assurance Report on Customer Contact pdf icon PDF 434 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Resources which provides assurance over the control environment in place for customer contact and customer satisfaction in the areas of face to face services; Contact Centre and digital services for customers; and compliments and complaints.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Resources submitted a report providing the Committee with assurance over the control environment in place for customer contact and customer satisfaction. The report covered the following areas:

·  Face to face services

·  Contact centre and digital services for customers

·  Compliments and complaints

 

The terms of reference of the Corporate Governance and Audit Committee require the Committee to consider the adequacy of the Council’s policies and practices to ensure compliance with statutory guidance and the adequacy of the Council’s corporate governance arrangements.

 

The Head of Shared Services presented the report and highlighted the extent to which the standards, policies and procedures in relation to customer contact and satisfaction have been complied with during the reporting period from January 2021 to December 2021. Information was also provided for the period from January 2020 to December 2020 for the purposes of comparison.

 

The Head of Shared Services provided detail in respect of the following areas:

Face to Face Contact - This includes the services that the Communities Housing and Environment directorate provide such as the Community Hubs, Libraries, Jobshops and Customer Services. During 2021, new community hub developments have been completed, there has been a review of community hub and library opening hours and some community hub sites have been used as vaccination venues during the year.

 

Contact Centre – This remained very often the first point of contact for service users. 1.4 m calls and 250,000 emails had been handled during 2020/21. It was noted that the average time waiting for calls to be answered had lengthened and work was being done to address this, looking at digital contact options and staff recruitment to improve responsiveness and the Committee was assured that work was being done with the Digital Inclusion Service to assist customers who need non-digital options for contact.

 

Satisfaction – A new survey was launched for the Contact Centre in January 2022 and the results for the month of January 2022 were provided as an indication of current satisfaction levels, acknowledging this was outside the period of assurance detailed in the report. Complaint volumes increased in 2021 compared to 2020, by around a quarter at both stage 1 and stage 2.

 

The following matters were considered during discussion:

 

Telephone contact – Several issues were raised by Members, including:

-  One Member identified this as an area of weakness, citing those customers who could only telephone the contact centre during work breaks/lunchtime and as waiting times for calls to be answered had increased, some callers may not be able to wait.

-  One Member queried whether the Contact Centre hours could be extended. 

 

The Committee heard that a robust improvement plan was in place to understand the root cause of contact and to recruit to vacancies in the Contact Centre. Work was being done across Services to promote a “Get it Right first time” approach to reduce the need for calls and follow up calls. Although there were no plans to extend the Contact Centre hours, a review of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 81.

82.

Approval of Local Code of Corporate Governance pdf icon PDF 443 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Financial Services which presents a revised Local Code of Corporate Governance (the Code) for approval by the Committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Officer Financial Services submitted a report presenting a revised Local Code of Corporate Governance (the Code) for approval. The report set out how the Code will underpin the Council’s governance arrangements, and that the principles and commitments set out in the Code meet the requirements of the CIPFA Delivering Good Governance in Local Government: Framework (2016) (CIPFA’s Framework) which is established proper practice for local authorities.

 

Members noted that corporate governance arrangements seek to ensure the sustainable delivery of the Council’s strategic ambition within the resources available, and that innovation would form part of this approach.

 

RESOLVED

a)  To approve the Local Code of Corporate Governance as attached at Appendix A of the submitted report

b)  To note the arrangements proposed for reporting annually on monitoring and compliance.

 

(Councillor Shemilt left the meeting at this point)

 

83.

Internal Audit Update Report December 2021 to February 2022 pdf icon PDF 411 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer (Financial Services) which provides a source of assurance that the internal control environment is operating as intended through a summary of the Internal Audit activity for the period from December 2021 to February 2022. The report highlights the incidence of any significant control failings or weaknesses.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Officer Financial Services submitted a report which provided a summary of the Internal Audit activity for the period December 2021 to February 2022.

 

The report provided assurance that the internal control environment is operating as intended through a summary of the Internal Audit activity during that period and also highlighted the incidence of any significant control failings or weaknesses.

 

The report also included information relating to the monitoring of urgent decisions to enable timely consideration of these matters by Committee as agreed following consideration of the annual decision-making assurance report at the meeting held 30th July 2021. 6 audit reports (excluding external work) during the period from 1st December 2021 to 28th February 2022.

 

The Senior Audit Manager presented the report, highlighting the following key issues:

·  The changes made to the Internal Audit Plan 2021/22 and work undertaken to analyse priorities, including the external sources of assurance which could be used for evaluation purposes.

·  Delivering on priorities with the resources available will ensure the Council is in a better place to implement the Audit Plan 2022/23.

·  The outcome of an audit of the Data Protection Impact Assessments processes.

·  Where available, more information on the outcomes following audit work and recommendation tracking had been included in the report with plans to include feedback from departments in future reports.

 

During discussions the Committee focused on the following matters:

·  Reasons for the removal of the audit work in respect of Children and Families Commissioning from the 21/22 Audit Plan – noting that a new post had been introduced to review the joint LCC & NHS commissioning and the impact of the forthcoming implementation of the new West Yorkshire Integrated Care System.

 

·  Reasons for the removal of the audit work in respect of Housing Disrepair Services from the 21/22 Audit Plan – noting that no major issues had been found during the previous audit a watching brief would monitor the Disrepair service. The Directorate had requested assurance on Housing Voids which had therefore assumed priority over the Disrepair Service.

 

·  A request for more detail on DPIA findings for each Directorate.

 

·  In respect of CSQ returns, one member queried the reference to external. The Senior Audit Manager advised that this referred to organisations where LCC provided an audit service through a contractual obligation and it was vital to receive feedback from them.

 

·  In respect of the crisis in Ukraine, no specific audit work was being undertaken currently, however work is being undertaken to support a project looking at the systems in place to make payments to sponsors of refugees fleeing the conflict. Additionally a review of risks in relation to Ukrainian refugees was being undertaken by the Intelligence and Policy Manager.

 

In conclusion the Committee received assurance that a satisfactory annual audit opinion would still be delivered for the 2021/22 year given the work undertaken using all the appropriate assurances available.

 

RESOLVED -

a)  To receive the Internal Audit Update Report covering the period from December 2021 to February 2022 and note the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 83.

84.

Internal Audit Plan 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 411 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer (Financial Services) on the proposed Internal Audit Plan for 2022-23. The work of Internal Audit contributes to Leeds City Council achieving its key priorities by helping to promote a secure and robust internal control environment, which enables a focus on accomplishing Best Council Plan objectives.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Officer Financial Services submitted a report presenting the proposed Internal Audit Plan for 2022-2023 for review and approval. The report also included a summary of the basis for the plan which had been developed in consultation with the Council’s senior management and highlighted that the Committee retained responsibility for reviewing the adequacy of the Council’s Corporate Governance arrangements.

 

Addressing the report the Senior Audit Manager provided an overview of the consultation undertaken with relevant parties to ensure the plan reflected the Council’s current risks and priorities.

 

Members were informed of the following areas of work which had been identified as priorities with the team resource planned accordingly:

·  Financial risks

·  Cloud based solutions and Cyber

·  Business Transformation

·  Adults and Childrens Services

·  Fraud and Corruption

Members were advised that any amendment to the Plan would be reported to the Committee.

 

During discussions, the Committee received the following additional information:

 

Covid-19 Grants – Noting concern regarding fraudulent grant claims, it was reported that Omicron support grants were still being paid and an update would be included within the bi-annual report. Members noted that fraudulent claims were reported to West Yorkshire Police as appropriate. Current information could be provided directly to Committee Members.

 

Team resources – Noting the ongoing service review focussing on active productivity, Members were advised that the increase in productivity did not entirely rest on further recruitment. Members were also assured that, at the current time, the team would be sufficiently resourced to deliver the Plan

 

RESOLVED – Having reviewed the documents, the Committee approved the Internal Audit Plan for 2022-23.

 

85.

Corporate Governance and Audit Committee Work Programme 2021-22 and 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 409 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Financial Services presenting the proposed work programme for the Corporate Governance and Audit Committee for the 2022-23 municipal year, setting out future business for the Committee’s agenda, together with details of when items will be presented.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Officer Financial Services submitted a report which set out the proposed Work Programme for the 2022-23 municipal year, setting out future business for the Committee’s agenda, together with details of when items will be presented. The Committee noted the intention to include two additional reports into the 2022/23 timetable:

·  Governance Arrangements for implementation of Best City Ambition and review of strategic framework, and

·  Assurance report on Estate Management Arrangements.

 

In response to CIPFA’s Position Statement and a query regarding measuring the Committee’s effectiveness against CIPFA’s recommendations, it was agreed that further information would be presented alongside the Annual Report of the Committee to be considered in June 2022.

 

RESOLVED – To note the future meeting dates and to approve the Work Programme for the 2022/23 Municipal Year.

 

86.

Date of Next Meeting

To note the date of the next meeting is proposed as Friday 24th June 2022

Minutes:

RESOLVED – To note the date and time of the next meeting is proposed as Friday 24th June 2022 at 10.00 am.