Hounslow Council


Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 3, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Mike Smith telephone: 020 8583 2069; email:  mike.smith@hounslow.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

33.

Minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2015 pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2016 were confirmed subject to noting that Cllr Hughes had conveyed her apologies.

34.

Whistleblowing Policy pdf icon PDF 249 KB

Minutes:

See report of the Lead Member for Housing Equalities and Inclusion (agenda item 4).

 

Clive Palfreyman, Director of Strategic Finance, introduced the report.

 

It was explained that accountability for the Council’s whistleblowing policy could legitimately rest with either the Audit Committee or the Standards Committee. In other local authorities the Standards Committee was the responsible body. The terms of reference of the Standards Committee did specifically include oversight of whistleblowing matters. It was confirmed that the proposal in this case was that a report would be made both to the Audit Committee and the Standards Committee. The acknowledgement in the policy of the role for councillors was welcomed. It was explained that although an independent Hounslow whistleblowing helpline was not available, the policy did signpost the option of contacting the independent organisation Public Concern at Work. It was acknowledged that Hounslow was moving towards an exemplary policy.

 

It was recommended that the Chief Executive be included as an additional point of contact for raising a concern under the whistleblowing policy at an appropriate escalation level.

 

Resolved -

 

(a)      That the changes to the Whistleblowing Policy, following recommendations contained in the Internal Audit Report of April 2015 and also the Department for Business Innovation and Skills’ Guidance for Employers and Code of Practice on Whistleblowing March 2015, be noted.

 

(b)      That it be recommended that the Chief Executive be included as an additional point of contact for raising a concern under the Whistleblowing Policy at an appropriate escalation level.

 

(c)      That it be noted that this report and all future related reports will be presented to the Standards Committee’s terms of reference specifically include oversight of whistleblowing matters.

35.

Quarterly monitoring of the Corporate Risk Register pdf icon PDF 147 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

See report of the Lead Member for Finance and Engagement (agenda item 5).

 

Lorelei Watson, Head of Treasury, Pensions and Capital, introduced the report. It was noted that the average risk score had gone up as risk 3 had been removed. It was confirmed that risk 12 relating to budgetary constraint had increased. There was a separate finance risk register which looked in more detail at financial risks.

 

Resolved -

 

That the amended Corporate Risk Register as set out in appendix 1 be noted.

36.

Presentation on the departmental risk process in the Children and Adult Services Department pdf icon PDF 480 KB

Minutes:

Sally Duhig, Head of Performance and Business Improvement for the Children, Housing and Adult Services Department, gave a short PowerPoint presentation explaining how the risk management process was handled within the Department.

 

In response to questions she explained that there were 4 separate directorships within the Department. The cycle for preparing the departmental risk register was timed to fit in with the process for reviewing the Corporate Risk Register which ultimately was considered by the Audit Committee. She acknowledged that this was sometimes difficult as the meetings of the Audit Committee were not evenly spread throughout the year. Reporting within the Department was monitored with the assistance of a software package specifically designed for risk management.

 

The presentation was noted.

37.

Internal Audit progress report: quarter 3 of 2015-2016 pdf icon PDF 187 KB

Minutes:

See the report of the Head of Internal Audit and Investigation (agenda item 7).

 

Steve Tinkler, Head of Internal Audit and Investigation, introduced the report. He stated that no recommendations had not been implemented. There were some recommendations which at this stage had been partially implemented and there were more priority to recommendations in this category than he would wish there to be. This was an area of focus for the audit team.

 

An assurance was given by Clive Palfreyman, Director of Strategic Finance, that Steve Tinkler would continue to be able to give a significant focus to audit work in Hounslow despite taking on additional responsibilities. There were in fact benefits of resilience and greater specialist expertise which the shared service approach offered and this was kept under active review. Steve Tinkler stated that he was still spending the same amount of his week based at Hounslow Council.

 

Officers undertook to make contact with Lindon Bennett School to ensure the outstanding Audit recommendation is addressed and to inform Committee Members of the outcome. It was noted that a number of recommendations made regarding the former Hounslow Homes repairs service and fleet and fuel management were at this stage partially implemented or delayed. It was felt important to keep this under review.

 

Resolved -

 

That the Internal Audit progress report for quarter 3 of 2015/2016 be noted.

38.

Internal Audit Plan 2016-2017 pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

See the report of the Head of Internal Audit and Investigation (agenda item 8).

 

Steve Tinkler, Head of Internal Audit and Investigation, introduced the report. The following information was provided in response to questions and discussion by the Committee.

 

Work was being undertaken with Lampton 360 on the framework for assurance activity within the company and with the Council. There was therefore a dual focus. This work would also look at governance and assurance as it related to any subsidiary companies which formed part of Lampton 360. Any relevant issues relating to the possibility of a 3rd runway at Heathrow would be reviewed once a decision was made. It was acknowledged that the project to move the Civic Centre was very major with a number of different issues to consider. It was likely to be on the Annual Audit Plan until its completion. There had already been an audit review of the pilot stage of the Worksmart project.

 

The Chief Executive was the Chair of a full programme board to manage the move of the Registrar’s office to its new Feltham location. The Registrar’s service had just been subject to a Home Office inspection. It had maintained its high assurance rating which included the handling of records. The Inspector had approved the plans for the move. The move was on schedule.

 

Resolved -

 

That the Draft Internal Audit Plan for 2016/2017 be approved.

39.

Counter Fraud performance report: quarter 3 of 2015-2016 pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Minutes:

See the report of the Head of Internal Audit and Investigation (agenda item 9).

 

Steve Tinkler, Head of Internal Audit and Investigation, introduced the report. He was pleased to report that investigation officers had all passed the CIPFA qualification to become an accredited counter fraud specialist. There would be a greater focus on financial investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Another new area of work related to investigation of potential offences in relation to persons who have no recourse to public funds.  Fraud investigation of those benefits which transferred in to Universal Credit would be the responsibility of the Department of Work and Pensions.

 

Resolved -

 

That the work undertaken by the Fraud Investigation Team in Quarter 3 of 2015/2016 be noted.

40.

Counter Fraud Plan 2016-2017 pdf icon PDF 160 KB

Minutes:

See report of the Head of Internal Audit and Investigation (agenda item 10).

 

Steve Tinkler, Head of Internal Audit and Investigation, introduced the report. He highlighted Personal Budgets as a new and emerging risk. There would also be a greater emphasis on Proceeds of Crime Act investigations which would financially penalise perpetrators. In relation to fraud in schools, he confirmed that the Council had no statutory responsibility for Academies and Free Schools.  The investigation team was raising awareness in LEA schools of fraud issues.

 

Resolved -

 

That the Counter Fraud Plan for 2016/2017 be approved.

41.

External Audit: annual report on grants and returns 2014-2015 pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Minutes:

See report of the External Auditor (agenda item 11).

 

Gary McLeod, External Auditor, introduced the report. He reported that there were no errors in law and the level of extrapolated errors was very low. He stated that there was good assurance of effective systems and processes.

 

The Committee wished to thank Gary for his support over the years and wished him well for future in his new role.