Agenda and draft minutes

Corporate Governance and Audit Committee - Friday, 29th July, 2022 2.30 pm

Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR

Contact: Debbie Oldham  0113 37 88656

Link: to view the meeting

Items
No. Item

15.

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 refusal of inspection of documents.

16.

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 were no exempt items.

17.

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 formal late items. However, there was supplementary information in relation to Agenda Item 10 – Draft Statement of Accounts, which had been circulated to all Members.

18.

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 interests were made at the meeting.

19.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence from the meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Linda Wild (Independent Member).

20.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 242 KB

To receive the minutes from the previous meeting held on 24th June 2022, for the purposes of approving them as a correct record.

Minutes:

Cllr Truswell suggested that the last paragraph of Minute 11 – Governance Arrangements for implement of the Leeds Best City Ambition be used as the resolution. This was agreed by the Committee.

 

RESOLVED – Subject to the amendment agreed, that the minutes of the meeting held on 24th June 2022, be approved as a correct record.

 

 

21.

Matters arising from the Minutes

To raise and consider any matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

It was noted that briefing papers requested at the previous meeting in relation to the following had been sent out to Members:

 

·  Budget Action Plans

·  Customer Satisfaction Questionnaires

·  Use of RIPA

·  Best City Ambition liaison with WYCA

·  Whistleblowing arrangements

 

It was also noted that the Annual Report of Corporate Governance and Audit Committee had been presented to full Council on 20th July 2022.

 

 

22.

Procurement Assurance Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 409 KB

To consider the annual report of the Head of Procurement and Commercial Services concerning the Council’s procurement function which provides assurances that the Council’s arrangements are up to date, fit for purpose, effectively communicated and routinely complied with.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Procurement and Commercial Services submitted a report which presented the Annual Report on the Council’s procurement function and provided assurances that the Council’s arrangements were up to date, fit for purpose, effectively communicated and routinely complied with.

 

The report provided assurance as to the effectiveness of the Council’s procurement arrangements with detail included in the Procurement Statement appended to the report at Appendix A.

 

The report also requested Members to consider the ongoing work to review the Council’s entire “procure to payment” (the P2P Review) processes in order to maintain effective procurement support, including appropriate training and guidance, and efficient systems and processes.

 

 

Members noted the following points:

·  External spend in 2021/22 was reduced by £40m on the preceding year which had been inflated as a consequence of Covid related grant and support.

·  A refresh of the Council’s Contract Procedure Rules is currently ongoing with a view to strengthen rules relating to Social Value and contract management and facilitating a more flexible and responsive approach to low value spend where there is urgency or where spend relates to goods for resale by the Council. Contract Procedure Rules training is continuing for staff.

·  In relation to compliance there had been no formal procurement challenges in the period 2021/22. On-contract spend remained strong and there was general compliance with procurement policies, with on-contract and compliant expenditure standing at 98.5% for 2021/22 financial year which was up from 95.6% in the previous year. The number of waivers of Contract Procedure Rules was down from 60 in the previous year to 37 in 2021/22.

·  The P2P Review is continuing with a focus on improving contract management and developing best contract management practice across the Council. An update on the P2P Review was attached to the submitted report at Appendix B.

·  A framework for delivering Social Value in all the Council’s procurements is now established, with a Social Value Board, Social Value Guidance for Commissioners, and Social Value support from PACS and Social Value Portal. It was noted that delivering Social Value was embedded in the Council’s higher-value procurement activity, but it was recognised that there was still work to be done to improve further. Members were informed that expenditure with local suppliers and SME’s equated to 63.8% of total expenditure in 2021/22, which was marginally down on the previous year.

 

In response to questions from Members the Committee were provided with the following information:

 

In relation to value engineering and inflationary pressures:

·  All contracts are monitored, should the supplier need to deviate from the contract they are required to submit a change request. This request would have to be agreed. If a supplier did not deliver to the specification bid for then the contract would not be signed off and payment not made.

·  The Council will challenge an inflation uplift request to ensure that the uplift is appropriate, fair and reasonable.

·  Members were of the view that any inflation uplifts need to be agreed on an equitable basis that reduces the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Interim Annual Governance Statement pdf icon PDF 334 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Financial Services which sets out the annual review of internal control which has been undertaken, and which presents the Interim Annual Governance Statement prior to publication for the purposes of public consultation.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Officer Financial Services submitted a report which presented the interim Annual Governance Statement (AGS). Members noted the interim Annual Governance Statement was prepared following a review of the effectiveness of the Council’s arrangements for Internal Control and would be published alongside the Statement of Accounts when put on deposit. Members were informed the final Annual Governance Statement for 2022 would be brought back to the Committee in Autumn for formal approval in advance of the Committee’s approval of the audited Statement of Accounts.

 

Members were informed of the following points:

·  In March 2022 the Committee approved the Code of Corporate Governance. 4.2 of the Code requires the Committee to have an oversight of the arrangements and receive annual reports setting the Framework of Internal Control and Mapping Assurance prior to approving the Annual Governance Statement.

·  Regulation 3 of the Accounts and Audit Regulations requires that the Council has a sound system of internal control to facilitate exercise of functions, achievements of aims and objectives and ensures effective financial and operational management, and includes effective arrangements for the management of risk

·  Regulation 6 requires the Council to do an annual review, and to use it to prepare the Annual Statement of Governance.

·  The Governance Framework sets out the framework of internal control ‘what we think we do’, and the assurance map shows the evidence available to show what we do.

·  The Council works with three lines of assurance:

o  Operational

o  Specialist

o  Independent

 

Member’s discussions included:

·  The need for good communication. It was suggested that plain English be used to enable everyone including the public to understand any reports that are presented to Council. It was noted that a similar conversation had taken place with regional Chairs about how understandable our reports are for the public. Officers noted the suggestion and would take this back for further review.

·  It was noted that the Chair had been invited to the Scrutiny Board (Strategy and Resources) to contribute to the Board’s review of actions to reduce call waiting times.

·  It was the view of the Committee that the reporting of risk should be more detailed.

·  The Committee requested an item in relation to the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian be brought to a future meeting.  It was acknowledged that this comes under the remit of Human Resources, and the Committee were advised that Human Resources would be bringing their annual report to Committee in February 2023.  The responsibility for administering the whistleblowing arrangements remains with the Head of Audit and the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian would have a largely pastoral role.

 

RESOLVED -  That the contents of the corporate governance framework and assurance map and the Interim Annual Governance Statement be noted.

 

 

24.

Draft Statement of Accounts pdf icon PDF 342 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Financial Services which presents for Members’ consideration the draft Statement of Accounts.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Officer Financial Services submitted a report which presented the draft unaudited 2021/22 Statement of Accounts which would be made available on the Council’s website for public inspection for thirty working days commencing Monday, 1st August 2022. Details of the roles, responsibilities and timescales for approving the statement of accounts were set out in the submitted report.

 

The Head of Finance presented the report providing the following information:

·  Responsibilities and timescales were noted as:

o  Draft Statement of Accounts to be approved by the S151 Officer,

o  Statutory deadline was set for 31st July which was met.

o  Publication for public inspection to be Monday 1st August. This would run for 30 working days. During this period members of the public can ask questions of the Council in relation to the figures presented and put questions to the External Auditors Grant Thornton. It was noted that if register as a voter in the Leeds area they can put objection to the figures to Grant Thornton who look into them and respond.

o  The external audit would be carried out by Grant Thornton, it is expected that the audit will start at the end of September 2022. When the audit is completed the final audited accounts will be brought back to the Committee for approval along with the report from Grant Thornton. It is expected that the final accounts will be brought back in February 2023.

o  It is proposed that briefing sessions will take place with Members prior to the statement of accounts being brought to the Committee for approval. It was suggested that the sessions take place in January.

 

The Head of Finance ran through the main issues arising from the statement of accounts which were set out at paragraph 3 of the submitted report. The officer provided specific details in relation to the increase in net worth of the Council, with one of the biggest factors being the decrease in the net pensions liability. It was noted that the pensions liability in the accounts did not affect future pension contributions, which would be determined by the triennial actuarial review. The results of the 31st March 2022 actuarial review were expected later in the year.

 

The Head of Finance updated Members in relation to the 2020/21 audit. The recent consultation by CIPFA on amending the accounting Code in respect of infrastructure assets had not resulted in an agreed way forward, and further proposals were expected in September. Members were advised that this may delay the finalisation of the council’s 2020/21 audit and accounts beyond September. An additional briefing session on the 2020/21 accounts would be held before the Committee is asked to approve these accounts, for the benefit of Members new to the Committee.

 

Members expressed concerns in relation to the timescales  for the audit of accounts to enable consideration of the audit outcome within preparation of the budget going forward.

 

Members were advised that the preparation of the budget took place in accordance with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Corporate Governance and Audit Committee Work Programme 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 325 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Financial Services which presents the Committee’s work programme, setting out future business together with details of when items are scheduled to be considered.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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, with details of when items will be presented.

 

Appendix A of the submitted report set out the proposed items and dates.

 

 

RESOLVED – That the Work Programme be approved, as set out at Appendix A of the submitted report.

 

26.

Date and Time of Next Meeting

To note that the date of the next scheduled meeting is 2.00pm, Friday, 30th September 2022.

Minutes:

The Chair consulted with the Committee Members in relation to changing the day of the meetings from Friday to Monday. The Committee agreed with this proposal.

 

Officers were requested to check the Council Calendar for suitable dates, inform Members and make the necessary arrangements.

 

The meeting concluded at 15:50