Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR
Contact: Debbie Oldham 0113 37 88656
Link: to view the meeting
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)
There were no appeals against refusal of inspection of documents.
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:-
The were no exempt 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)
There were no formal late items. However, there was supplementary information in relation to Agenda Item 10 - Approval of the 2020/21 Statement of Accounts and Grant Thornton Audit Report, which had been circulated to all Members prior to the meeting.
Declaration of Interests
To disclose or draw attention to any interests in accordance with Leeds City Council’s ‘Councillor Code of Conduct’.
No declarations of interest were made at the meeting.
Apologies were received from Cllr Harrand.
To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 28th November 2022, for approval.
RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 28th November 2023 be approved as a correct record.
The Lead Officer provided the following updates:
Minute 50 – Annual Report – Financial Planning and Management Arrangements
A briefing note had been circulated on Designation of Contractors on IR35. It was noted that in relation to the further questions raised officers are looking into these and will respond once the answers are known.
Minute 51 – Counter Fraud and Corruption Update Report
Briefing note circulated to Members in relation to Whistleblowing.
Minute 52 – Annual Report on Corporate Performance Management Arrangements
It was brought to Member’s attention that a paper had been considered at Scrutiny Board Strategy and Resources on Mass Communication and Consultation. Members were advised that discussion had taken place in relation to performance, and Members wish to look at this.
Minute 53 – Annual Assurance on Corporate Risk and Resilience
A briefing note had been circulated to Members as requested.
To receive the report of the Director of Resources and the Director of Adults and Health to provide Corporate Governance and Audit Committee with an annual report on the arrangements in place within Leeds City Council with regards to information management and governance in order to provide assurance for the annual governance statement.
The report of the Director of Resources and the Director of Adults and Social Health provided assurances to the Corporate Governance & Audit Committee on the effectiveness of the council’s information management and governance arrangements that they are up to date, fit for purpose, effectively communicated and routinely complied with, as well as arrangements that are in review or development in order to keep pace with developing risks or changes to legislation and guidance. This report also included the annual report of the Caldicott Guardian to provide assurance to the Committee of the arrangements in place with regards to the confidentiality of service-user data.
The Head of Information Management and Governance attended the meeting and highlighted three key points from the report:
· The Council had maintained its Public Services Network (PSN) certificate which was achieved in October 2022 which ensures that the Council can continue to share information securely.
· Internal Audit had recommended an improvement for the oversight, recording and completion of Data Protection Impact Assessments. Significant work has been done on this and in December 2022 in line with the Council’s Digital Strategy work started with Integrated Digital Services (IDS) to create suitable technology to support the process. Members were advised that this new process and software is due to go live in April 2023.
· Performance in relation to Information Requests had again improved from the previous year and with significant changes made earlier in the year performance had reached just under KPI target of 90% in Q2. It was recognised that consistency had been issue due to ongoing resource pressures. However, there were short term and long term plans to improve this.
· It was noted that a report with full details was due to go to Scrutiny Board Strategy and Resources on 20th February 2023.
Member’s discussions included:
· Acknowledgment of a detailed report to Scrutiny Board.
· Improvements required to KPI’s and benchmarking figures should be looked in to.
· Reports when released should be published with an announcement and done quickly.
· It was suggested that there should be links from the Information Management Board to CLT. It was noted that the Board was currently being reviewed and with a view that it should be an assurance board. There would be regular reporting, more information in relation to statistic and Data Protection Impact Assessments and the number of data sharing agreements and incidents that the Council has. Members were advised the Head of Internal Audit is a member of the Board and could be the link to CLT.
· It was noted that training in relation to GDPR had been ongoing and was due to close. Members were informed that 50 members of staff had still not completed the online training and their accounts would be locked until the training had been completed.
· It was recognised that current risks in relation to information governance and business risks were reviewed differently. Members were informed that a review was ongoing to review how risk is reported and Information Management and Risk Management were ... view the full minutes text for item 63.
This is the annual report of Chief Digital and Information Officer to the Committee concerning the decision-making arrangements within the Integrated Digital Service (IDS) and provides assurances that these arrangements are up to date, fit for purpose, effectively communicated and routinely complied with.
The Chief Digital and Information Officer provided the annual report to the Committee concerning the decision-making arrangements within the Integrated Digital Service (IDS) and provided assurances that these arrangements are up to date, fit for purpose, effectively communicated and routinely complied with. The arrangements set out provide a framework for transparent and accountable decision making within IDS in accordance with the Council’s Corporate Governance Code and Framework.
The Lead Officer to the Committee informed the Members the report for Item 8 was carrying the wrong title and should be Update Report on Information and Digital Services Governance. However, the information within the report was correct.
The Deputy Chief and Information Officer was in attendance for this item and provided the Committee with the following information:
· This was the first time Digital Services has used this statement of internal control and this would evolve and improve over time.
· The report aimed to describe the new governance arrangements which have been established in the service over the last two years, through the Pre-Digital Board, Digital Board and Design Authority whose aims are to align the principles and strategies to look at priorities across the council.
· Members were advised of a new tool called Daptiv which is used to plan and track delivery of all work being undertaken across IDS to understand capacity and demand management. This will provide information as to how the service is performing against capacity levels.
· A Digital Academy has been established which focuses on the skills of employees and digital inclusion.
Responding to questions from Members the following information was provided:
· It was noted that IDS are looking to augment the team with ‘off shoring’ which was not about outsourcing, but to bring in digital expertise to work alongside the development team on areas such as power apps and robotic automation. It was noted that in terms of reports to the Committee, language was important and rather than use jargon it would be better to describe what is to happen, so Members are fully briefed.
· Information provided in paragraph 15 is reported in somewhere, but the officer needed more information as to where, and would feedback to the Committee.
· Members were advised that the survey of internal control on page 50 looked at a number of internal controls across the council. Last years survey was in excess of 400 officers who were tier 4, 3, 2, 1 who are PO6 grade and above. It was noted that the process for this is currently ongoing, however, this was now only surveying 130 officers.
· It was acknowledged that the service had gone through a big change over the last two years with a re-organisation and there were still posts to fill. It was the officers view that the changes would make the service better now the teams have started to be embedded. Members were advised that the move to the Cloud was to provide better security and business continuity. It was noted that eventually the Council would be web based ... view the full minutes text for item 64.
The report of the Chief Officer Financial Services 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 September to December 2022.
The report of the Chief Officer Financial Services provided 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 September to December 2022.
The Principal Audit Manager attended for this item and provided the following information:
· This report covered the period 1st September to end of December 2023.
· Included in the report was the Data Analytical Strategy which outlines the vision, aims and key areas of focus for data analytics to assist in the delivery of the internal audit plan. It was noted that this was in draft as it requires approval from Internal Audit Leadership Team, but it had been brought to Committee for Members to have sight of it prior to approval.
· Appendix A provided information in relation to movements in the internal audit plan which reflects the Council’s risk profile changes during the year.
· It was noted in terms of limited opinions two reviews had been undertaken at two primary schools. These had resulted in a limited opinion for compliance with controls, the main weaknesses were around compliance with procedures for creditor payments and the management of the school voluntary fund and in one school there were weaknesses in payroll procedures. It was noted that the head teachers at both schools were implementing the actions for the procedures and these would be subject to a follow up review in 2023/24.
· There had been no follow ups during the period September to December.
· Work is continuing with Directorates to embed the recommendation tracking process, feedback from this is being used in its development.
· Currently in the process of building an internal audit plan for 2023/24. This is to be brought before the Committee in March. Members were requested to email the Head of Internal Audit if they wished to see any specific areas for consideration.
In response to questions from Members the Committee were provided with the following information:
· Members wished to know if the audits of the two primary schools had raised concerns and if any other schools needed to be reviewed and the organisational impact from the two reviews undertaken. It was noted that information from all reviews does feed into the internal audit plan. Audit look at trends and this is fed into the internal audit plan. It was acknowledged that the table presented in the report in relation to these two audits could be confusing. It was noted that the table showed organisational impact for the Council not for the schools. It would be made clearer in future reporting. Members noted that schools were part of a rolling programme and are reviewed each year. Members were advised that for schools this size there was no risk to the Council, however, there was potential risk to reputation.
· Members acknowledged that Highways had been taken out of the internal audit plan as they were undertaking work themselves, Members asked if it would be better to have an auditor working alongside ... view the full minutes text for item 65.
To receive the report of the Chief Finance Officer on Grant Thornton’s audit of the 2020/21 accounts as they near completion and an update report on their findings.
The report of the Chief Finance Officer presented the final audited 2020/21 Statement of Accounts and also an updated report from Grant Thornton on their findings.
In attendance for this item were:
· Head of Finance
· Deputy Chief Officer Financial Services
· Representatives from Grant Thorntons – External Auditors
The Committee were provided with the following information:
· The accounts were original presented in draft form in July 2021.This is the revised version taking into account any points raised or changes in circumstances since then.
· A revised version had been to Committee in February 2022, where a small number of adjustments had already been identified, these were summarised in the covering report in relation to the Collection Fund position, property valuations and pensions.
· In early 2022 it came to light there were some national issues in relation to the accounting for infrastructure assets and this had prevented any further sign off of local authority accounts until resolved. This was resolved in December 2022 with the issue of new regulations and changes to the accounting code. The only changes to the Leeds accounts had been to make additional narrative discloses and a slight change to one of the disclosure tables.
· Members were advised of another issue. As part of the 2021/22 closedown a number of valuations were outsourced to the District Valuers Service. One of the valuations of Leeds Arena has resulted in a significantly different outcome to our previous valuation. The District Valuer advised that in the post covid period a depreciation replacement cost valuation was more appropriate than the income-based valuation which had previously been used. This also affected the valuation for the 2020/21 accounts. The District Valuer was asked to revalue the Leeds Arena for 2020/21, which resulted in a significant increase of the Leeds Arena by £59.4m. It was noted that this is a technical issue of how much the asset is valued in terms of the Council’s balance sheet and did not affect spendable reserves or the market value of the asset.
· In light of the valuation on the Leeds Arena, valuations on other entertainment venues were also requested. It was the view of the District Valuer that a depreciation cost replacement valuation would have been more appropriate in previous years as these are not leased out on commercial terms. Therefore, changes have been made as if these assets have always been valued on a depreciation replacement cost valuation.
· The Committee noted that as a result there was an additional statement which was a revised opening balance as at 1st April 2019.
· The Management Letter was attached as an appendix. This is the letter Grant Thornton ask the Council to provide prior to giving their opinion on the accounts. Members were asked to give approval for the Chair to sign the letter.
Grant Thornton provided the following information on their opinion of the accounts:
· An updated ISA260 report for 2020/21 had been included as supplementary information, which highlighted in blue text the changes from the previous version submitted ... view the full minutes text for item 66.
The report of the Chief Officer Human Resources is the annual report to the committee concerning the Council’s employment policies and employee conduct. The report provides assurance to the Committee that, employee conduct is properly managed, policies are regularly reviewed and employee conduct forms part of normal manager/ employee relations.
The annual report of the Chief Officer Human Resources brought to the committee the Council’s employment policies and employee conduct. The report provided assurance to the Committee that, employee conduct is
properly managed, policies are regularly reviewed and employee conduct forms part of normal manager/ employee relations.
The Chief Officer Human Resources attended for this item and provided the following information to the Committee:
· The report provides assurance that employment conduct is properly managed and policies in the employment domain are regularly updated and reviewed. The report also showed that activities undertaken to ensure that the employment activities are appropriately aligned with the Organisational Plan, the Council’s Ambitions and the People Strategy.
· The report provided the Committee with the robust mechanisms in place for reviewing, consulting and engaging with stakeholders on practices and policies. This included engaging with Executive Members, Staff Networks and Trade Unions.
· A few highlights from the report included:
o It had been a difficult year in terms of operating within a challenging labour market. Therefore, the focus had been in augmenting and reviewing the recruitment and selection policies, practices and toolkits.
o A grievance practice review had been undertaken which was independent of the HR Business Partnering Team.
o There had been refresh of the organisational values and behaviours and work is currently ongoing to embed these across the organisation.
o A new leadership and development offer has started for 2,500 managers designed to build confidence and capabilities.
Member’s discussions included:
· Acknowledgement that this was a comprehensive area and it had been noted the work undertaken on policies, grievances and employment.
· It was recognised that staff welfare was important and were of the view that details of actions to address staff wellbeing was included in reports and reported into either this Committee or Scrutiny Board Strategy and Resources. The Members were advised that staff wellbeing and safety was at the heart of the People Strategy. It was noted that there are increases of ill health including Covid, mental health and musculoskeletal problems. There is a specific action plan and HR are midway through this. Also started this year is a Mental Health Strategy which focusses on three areas of promotion, prevention and support . The Committee were informed that future reports could provide more details. It was the view that this needed to be more proactive work rather than reactive.
· There is a range of issues which can be benchmarked which could include employment, retention of staff, absence and turnover of staff. The Council engages with the LGA, core cities group and comparisons can be undertaken with neighbouring authorities and the anchor network.
· There were three Armed Forces Champions present at the Committee and HR were thanked for their work to embed the Silver Covenant through training days etc. for ex-armed forces personnel and the hope that next year the Council can aim for gold. Praise was also given for the staff networks that this Council has and going forward it was hoped a staff network ... view the full minutes text for item 67.
The report of the Chief Officer Financial Services presents the work programme for the Corporate Governance and Audit Committee, setting out future business for the committee’s agenda, together with details of when items will be presented.
The report of the Chief Officer Financial Services presented the work programme for the Corporate Governance and Audit Committee, setting out future business for the Committee’s agenda, together with details of when items will be presented.
The Lead Officer advised the Committee that at the meeting in March the proposed work programme will be presented for 2023/24 for consideration. Members were invited to email the Lead Officer with suggestions for the future work programme 2023/24
The proposed Development Plan for Committee would also be brought to the next meeting.
RESOLVED - To note and approve the work programme and meeting dates at Appendix A.
Date and Time of next meeting
To note the next meeting will be on Monday 24th March 2023 at 10.00am.
To note the next meeting of Corporate Governance and Audit Committee will be on Monday 20th March 2023 at 10.00am in Civic Hall.