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Agenda item


To consider the Risk Services Quarter Four Report detailing the period of 1January to 31 March 2018.


The Committee considered the findings from the Risk Services Quarterly report.


In terms of service developments, Mrs Tracy Greenhalgh, Head of Audit and Risk reported that numerous internal audits were underway in quarter 4 2017/ 2018 which included, and were not limited to Public Protection, Council Tax collection, the Pupil Welfare Unit and Housing Benefit risk based verification. Details of the scope and final outcome of those reviews would be contained in the Risk Services quarterly report once the draft report had been agreed.


The Committee was informed that the corporate fraud team had been involved in a number of reactive fraud investigations during the quarter which had impacted on their capacity to focus on proactive work. The Fraud Prevention Charter had been formally signed off by the Corporate Leadership Team and it was intended that the document would allow the allocation of proactive work across agreed timescales. Following a question about Council Tax single person discount and how fraudulent claims were identified and dealt with, Mr Thompson reported that a national fraud initiative was in place to help with such matters in addition to the Council writing out to residents to request they notify the authority of any changes to their domestic situation.  It was acknowledged that there was still an element of reliance on residents reporting instances of suspected Council Tax fraud. Following questions about how far back investigations of fraud by individuals covered, it was confirmed that usually the three previous years would be looked at and penalties would be issued to those individuals who failed to inform the authority of changes in circumstances.


With reference to risk services performance indicators, the Committee questioned the percentage of risk registers revised and up to date at the end of the quarter which had slipped from 100% in Quarter 3 to an 89% completion rate in Quarter 4. Mrs Greenhalgh advised that changes to the organisational structure had largely led to the drop. Those outstanding risk registers included Adult services commissioning team, building cleansing, parking services, CCTV and security.


In response to a question about the completion of Ipool modules being included in Annual Individual Performance Appraisals (IPA’s) for staff, Mrs Greenhalgh indicated that Line Managers were held to account for this. In addition, Chief Officers were held to account for the rates of Ipool module completion within their directorates. Mr Towers added that the registering of interests among Council officers had greatly improved.


The Committee discussed emergency response volunteer workers and what incentives existed to increase retention of those individuals. Members were informed of the potential to operate a reward scheme and to involve Council owned companies more in recruitment and retention of volunteers.


Following consideration of the various internal audits outlined in the report, it was agreed that in addition to the inclusion of three tier level priority recommendations and management response information, in future it would be desirable to invite various Heads of Service to future meetings to discuss specific priority areas requiring improvement and what plans were in place to address deficiencies.


With regard to issues identified in the audit of transition from children to adult services, Mrs Booth advised that a systematic issue had been dealt with and the referrals process had now been clarified. The issue of a lack of contracts raised during the audit of Headstart was discussed and the Committee notified that the priority one area of concern would be resolved in the very near future.


The Committee was informed that a follow-up audit of business planning and performance management for 2018/2019 had been arranged and would be reported to a future Committee meeting. A full scale review would be undertaken to further investigate various elements of data recording and processes for claims handling. Employee liability claims were deliberated and when questions were asked about year on year increases in claims and payouts from 2014/2015 onwards, Mrs Greenhalgh reported that such claims were very difficult to anticipate and plan for accordingly but offered to provide detailed feedback on the issue to Members outside of the meeting.


The internal audit of events risk management was discussed and the Committee noted the concerns about the late submission of relevant paperwork by third parties and external providers which could have a detrimental impact on events, and work soon being undertaken to improve this. In response, Members were informed that the audit report would be submitted to the Safety Advisory Group for further consideration and it was anticipated that any recommendation would help to reduce associated risks.


The estates management and investment portfolio was discussed and the Committee expressed concerns about the completion rate of rent reviews and the potential financial risk of failing to adequately recover any monies owed from outstanding reviews. Members requested that further information be submitted on the issue and invited the relevant Head of Service to attend the next meeting to discuss the issue in greater detail.


The Committee agreed:

1.      To invite the Head of Property Services to the next meeting to discuss the Estate Management and Investment Portfolio internal audit.

2.      To invite relevant Heads of Service to future meetings as and when required to discuss detailed responses to priority areas identified within internal audits.

3.      That the Head of Audit and Risk circulate the Annual Audit Opinion 2017/2018 to the Committee to assist in identifying audit areas to review in more detail at future meetings.

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