Hounslow Council


Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 2, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Mike Smith, tel 020 8583 2069, e-mail  mike.smith@hounslow.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

7.

Appointment of Independent Member

The Committee is asked to confirm the decision of the selection panel to appoint Andrea White as the Independent Member of the Audit Committee.  The period of office to be until 31 August 2016 in the first instance.

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That Andrea White be appointed as the Independent Member of the Audit Committee until 31 August 2016.

8.

Declarations of interest

Members are reminded that if they have a personal interest in any matter being discussed at the meeting they must declare the interest and if the interest is also a prejudicial interest then they may not take part in any discussion or vote on the matter

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

9.

Minutes of the meeting held on 17 July 2013 pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 17 July 2013 were confirmed.

10.

Matters arising from the minutes

Minutes:

The following updates were provided in response to questions raised on the minutes.

 

(a)      A proposal to reduce the quorum of the Audit Committee would be put to the next meeting of the Authority (minute 2 refers).

 

(b)      Waste tonnage predictions were proving accurate so far (minute 3 refers).

 

(c)      Officer meetings were scheduled in September to develop a treasury management strategy (minute 5 refers).

 

(d)      Off-site data backup was expected to go live in January 2014 (minute 5 refers).

11.

Annual Governance Statement pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

See report of the Treasurer and Director (agenda item 6).

 

Ian O’Donnell, Treasurer referred to the governance issues which occurred in 2012/13 as set out in section 5 of the Governance Statement. In all cases the issues were being addressed for 2013/2014.  He confirmed that some elements of governance structure were in place in 2012/2013 but there had been no framework to measure performance against. This was now being addressed. It was difficult to correlate these issues with any Value For Money impact.

 

Susan Dixson, Head of Internal Audit, confirmed that the prospect for improvement of the organisation’s control environment in 2013/2014 was very good.

 

Resolved -

 

(a)      That the Annual Governance Statement, as set out at appendix 1 to the report, be commended to the Authority for approval.

 

(b)      That the Annual Statement of Assurance from the Internal Auditors, set out at appendix 2 to the report, be noted.

12.

External Auditor - Annual Governance Report pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

See report of the Treasurer (agenda item 7).

 

Matthew Hall, Deloitte, Senior External Auditor, referred to the main findings set out in the Executive Summary of his report. He reported that, overall, the Authority was in a better position than last year. Quraisha Rawat, External Auditor, stated that there were no material issues in the financial statements.  Audit risks had been satisfied. Some control recommendations were proposed but there had been significant improvement.

 

Matthew Hall confirmed that the Authority falls in the middle range in exercising prudence in the application of financial judgement.

 

The following additional comments were provided in relation to the External Auditor’s recommendations.

 

The Authority had limited staff capacity to check all journal entries. A system of more limited checking was proposed.  Matthew Hall stated that this was not best practice but accepted the necessity (recommendation 4).

 

Meetings with Harrow Council to reconcile balances were being established for the second week of the month following the reconciliation period (recommendation 5).

 

Accrual accounts would be reviewed in October and a system was being set up to automate the process (recommendation 6).

 

Matthew Hall confirmed that the external audit would examine the process for accounting for utilisation of ear-marked reserves next year to ensure that it was now being undertaken in accordance with the Code (recommendation 7).

 

The new finance system, which would allow consistent account descriptions, was expected to be in place for April 2014 (recommendation 8).

 

Andrea White suggested that there should be a clear timescale, and designation of individual responsibility, for implementing each of the recommendations.

 

Resolved -

 

(a)      That the Annual Governance Report of the External Auditor be noted.

 

(b)      That the proposed management response to the External Auditor’s recommendations, as set out in section 4 of his report, be endorsed.

13.

Statutory Accounts pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

See report of the Treasurer (agenda item 8).

 

Ian O’Donnell, Treasurer, reported that some adjustments had been made to the final accounts but these did not have a material affect.  Diane Makepeace, Head of Finance, stated that the adjustments included correction to the double counting of pension contributions; a coding issue on landfill tax and transport of waste and updating of the cash flow statement.  There were also some minor rounding changes and typographical corrections.

 

Resolved -

 

That the Authority be commended to approve the Statutory Accounts for 2012/2013, as set out in appendix 1 to the report, prior to the issue of an Audit Certificate by the District Auditor.

14.

Internal Audit report pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

See report of the Treasurer (agenda item 9).

 

Susan Dixson, Head of Internal Audit, referred to progress on the work plan as set out in the report.  It was agreed that it would be helpful if future reports could set out a schedule of planned reviews with an indication of progress. It would also be helpful to indicate the reason why recommendations were not implemented or were partially implemented.  It was requested that an update be provided at the January meeting for achieving the goals on reducing overtime. It was agreed that the soon to be completed contract review report be issued to Members ahead of the January meeting.

 

Resolved -

 

(a)      That progress made on the recommendations of the internal audit report on overtime as set out in appendix 1 be noted.

 

(b)      That progress on the Internal Audit Plan for 2013/2014 be noted.

15.

Risk Register pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

See report of the Treasurer (see agenda item 10).

 

Jim Brennan, Director, reported that one additional risk had been added to the register since the last meeting.  Consideration was being given to replace current database software causing the risk but a timescale for replacement had not been set. He stated that a number of risks remained amber after mitigating measures had been implemented but the scoring had been diminished.  In some cases it was not regarded that management action had as yet had sufficient impact to change the risk score.  The register was monitored monthly by officers. A risk policy was being drafted.

 

Resolved -

 

That the content of the Risk Register as at July 2013 be noted.

16.

Financial Regulations pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

See report of the Treasurer (agenda item 11).

 

It was confirmed that there was cross referencing of the Financial Regulations to the Contracts and Tenders Regulations.  With reference to Regulation 82, it was agreed that there should be an onus on the budget holder to seek advice from the Treasurer on leasing arrangements.

 

Resolved -

 

That the Financial Regulations, as set out in appendix 1 to the report, be commended to the Authority for approval subject to amending Regulation 82 to place a responsibility on the budget holder to seek advice from the Treasurer on leasing arrangements.

17.

Dates of meetings

Houslow Civic Centre at 7pm on Wednesday:

 

15 January 2014

9 April 2014

18 June 2014

10 Sepember 2014

Minutes:

The following schedule of meetings at Houslow Civic Centre at 7pm on Wednesdays was noted:

 

15 January 2014

9 April 2014

18 June 2014

10 September 2014

18.

Finance Work Plan

Minutes:

Members agreed with the suggestion by Andrea White that it would be appropriate for the Audit Committee to monitor the Finance Work Plan and requested that officers bring an update of the Finance Work Plan to the next meeting.