Home > Council and Democracy > Agenda item

Agenda item


To provide the Audit Committee with a summary of the work completed by Risk Services in quarter four of the 2021/22 financial year.


Ms Tracy Greenhalgh, Head of Audit and Risk, presented the Risk Services Quarter Four Report. She highlighted that many of the areas covered in the report had met or exceeded their targets, although it was recognised that a small number of audit reports had been issued late. This had been due to a training issue which would be addressed going forward. The service was also shown to be working to ensure that the Council’s directorates risk registers were up to date, and a meeting had been arranged with the Director of Children’s Services to ensure that they were aware of all the audit work required.


The Committee discussed the pro-active communications work being undertaken, with Ms Greenhalgh explaining that this work had been launched in quarter one, highlighting the Council approach to fraud. This work had included an article in the local press and online. She also emphasised the importance of considering how to engage with the public, stating that it had been recognised that people were often reluctant to report instances of fraud involving their neighbours. Therefore, communications had sought to show the impact of fraud and its cost to Council services. The Committee noted that it was too early to consider the outcome of this work but further consideration could be given in future Risk Services updates.


Issues in obtaining a satisfactory insurance quote for Council property were also highlighted. The cost of insurance had increased significantly and the terms offered were worse than in previous years. Members of the Committee were informed that consideration was being given to using the Council’s Self-Insurance Fund to ensure that premises were covered. Mr Steve Thompson, Director of Resources, and Chair of the Self Insurance Panel would therefore be looking at claims, the cost of insurance premiums and how Council reserves could be used to manage risk going forward.


With regards the National Fraud Initiative (NFI), Ms Greenhalgh advised the Committee that this was a Cabinet Office initiative that the Council had requested to take part in. The NFI would allow co-operation on issues such as Council Tax fraud. The Council had not taken part during 2021-2022 due to issues with a Covid-19 loan, but that there would be participation in the NFI during 2022-2023. A breakdown of the work could then be provided in future reports.


Ms Greenhalgh also informed the Committee of the service’s failure to meet its target for 2021-2022 in respect of professional and technical qualifications which had been missed due to recruitment issues. This had meant that the service’s strategy had been changed and a number of trainees had been brought in. Although the new staff lacked qualifications they were working towards them at the Council. Support was being provided financially and professionally by risk services and it was planned that the target for qualifications would be met in the medium term.


Assurance Statements for internal audit work completed in the quarter had also been provided as part of the report. The statement showed that most audits had resulted in good or adequate assurance. Inadequate assurance however had been shown in Highway Enforcement and Carbon Emissions while split assurance had been given for Data Infrastructure.


Highways Enforcement had implemented cross training with Public Protection to address the issues highlighted in the audit. The issues surrounding the lack of carbon emissions data in the Carbon Emissions audit were also being addressed by the Director of Community and Environmental Services.


The Committee was also informed that the Highways Enforcement priority one recommendations made would be undertaken with Enveco to determine their role in enforcement and to ensure that enforcement activity was not duplicated.


The split assurance in Data Infrastructure related to the security of physical assets, mitigation for which had since been identified. Further assurance on the progress cyber risk was sought by the Committee with Ms Greenhalgh advising that Mr Tony Doyle, Head of IT Services, could provide an update to the next meeting.


Ms Greenhalgh further advised the Committee that the high risk identified in the report in respect of Adult Services – Keats and Langdale day Centre, had been the result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. During this time the centre had been closed and the staff redeployed elsewhere. The centre had since reopened and the Council was confident that the identified issues would be addressed.


The eleven priority two recommendations made in the Climate Change audit were discussed. Ms Greenhalgh explained that a Climate Action Plan had been developed and would assist services in delivering against the recommendations. It was also recognised that the Tourism, Economy and Communities Scrutiny Committee had a role in scrutinising the progress being made against the action plan as part of its climate emergency work.


The Committee agreed: That an update on the progress of the data infrastructure centre be provided to the July meeting.

Supporting documents: