Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room One, County Offices, Newland, Lincoln LN1 1YL

Contact: Cheryl Hall  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

51.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors P E Coupland, A P Maughan and A N Stokes.

52.

Declaration of Members' Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

53.

Minutes of the meeting held on 19 November 2018 pdf icon PDF 130 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 19 November 2018 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

54.

Combined Assurance Reports pdf icon PDF 537 KB

(To receive a report which provides the Committee with insight on the assurances across all of the Council's critical services, key risk, partnerships and projects. The Corporate Management Team will be in attendance to update on their combined assurance reports for each directorate)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report which provided the Committee with an insight on the assurances across all the Council's critical services, key risks and projects.

 

The Head of Paid Service and the Executive Directors were in attendance to present their Combined Assurance report and answer any questions from members of the Committee.  Prior to the meeting, the Committee had requested that the senior officers provide information on the three key risks that concerned them the most.

 

Head of Paid Service

 

The Head of Paid Service advised the Committee that the following risks were of most concern:

 

(1)  Future Funding – it was advised that although the County Council was in a good position in the short-term, future funding in the medium to long-term remained uncertain.  However, it was highly likely that savings would be required in future.  It was confirmed that all changes to the County Council's Budget would be taken through the Council's decision making processes.

(2)  Information, Management and Technology – although significant improvements had been made in recent months with a refresh of individual IT being rolled out, there were improvements to be made to Business World On and on-going updates to cyber security.   It was advised that an IMT Board was in the process of being established, which would oversee all IMT projects, and would include both councillors and officers.

(3)  Integration with Health – it was highlighted that further integration with the NHS was a priority for the County Council, particularly for services supporting older people which would bring significant benefits.

 

Members were provided with an opportunity to ask questions, where the following points were noted: -

 

·         It was acknowledged that the future funding of the authority was out of the control of the County Council; the integration with health was reliant on suitable partnership arrangements; however the required improvements with regard to IMT were within Council's control;

·         There was a need to achieve a confident and steady state with core IMT so that IT outages would be a minimum.  The rolling out of Windows 365 and new IT equipment would make significant improvements to the IT provision in the Council.  Once the IT rollout had been completed, work would be undertaken with departments to ascertain whether there were ways of utilising the digital platform to achieve optimisation of services;

·         Improvements in IT would be continuously reviewed, as there were always IT developments which might improve services;

·         It was confirmed that cyber security was on the Council's Risk Register and would remain there at this present time.  There was a need to improve IT resilience and staff awareness of the risks associated with IT. In addition to the already mentioned improvements to IT, the Council would move to a cloud based system and that greater awareness and training would be rolled out to all employees for completion.  There was a clear need to ensure that any cloud based system would store the Council's data safely and securely.  It would remain the responsibility of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

External Audit Progress Report - January 2019 pdf icon PDF 224 KB

(To receive a report by Mike Norman (Senior Manager, Mazars), which sets out the delivery of the Council's and Pension Fund External Audit for 2018/19)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report by Mike Norman (Mazars), which set out the delivery of the Council's and Pension Fund External Audit for 2018/19. Appended to the report was the External Audit Progress Report for 2018/19.

 

It was advised that the interim audit would commence on 28 January 2019 and the final audit conclude in July 2019. 

 

On 10 January 2019 the Pensions Committee and the Pensions Board had received briefings from Mazars on the Pension Fund audit issue for 2018/19 and had been provided with an opportunity to ask questions on Mazars' audit approach. 

 

It was highlighted that Mazars had arranged Financial Reporting Workshops to be held in February 2019, which would provide its clients with an update on the latest developments as well as a forum for its clients to discuss emerging issues.  The East Midlands event was being held in Nottingham on 12 February 2019 and officers from the Council's finance team had been invited to attend. 

 

It was also highlighted that the draft External Audit Annual Plan 2019/20 would be presented to the Committee at its meeting on 25 March 2019 for consideration.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the External Audit Progress Report – January 2019 be noted.

56.

Internal Audit Progress Report pdf icon PDF 18 KB

(To receive a report by Lucy Pledge (Audit and Risk Manager), which provides details of the audit work during the period 6th November 2018 to 10th January 2019; advises on the progress with the 2018/19 plan; and raises any other matters that may be relevant to the Committee's role)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jill Thomas (Principal Auditor) presented a report which provided details of the audit work during the period 6 November 2018 to 10 January 2019; advice on the progress with the 2018/19 plan; and information on any other matters relevant to the Audit Committee's role.

 

The Committee was advised that good progress had been made in the delivery of the Internal Audit Plan.  During the period, 17 audits had been completed and a further four were at 'draft report' stage.  Appendix A to the report provided detailed information on the work completed.

 

Reference was made to the audit of Capital Receipts, which had received limited assurance.  It was advised that in 2016 the Council, together with all other local authorities, had received more flexibility on the use of capital receipts, which allowed capital receipts to be used to fund expenditure on certain projects that were designed to generate on-going revenue savings or transform services to reduce costs. It was highlighted that a fundamental principle of the guidance was that if capital receipts were used on transformational projects then the Council would need to show that this had generated on-going revenue savings or transformed services to reduce costs as a result. 

 

The audit had found that improvements were required on the reporting of the on-going savings or reductions in costs and officers were confident that those improvements would be delivered by including this information in future budget outturn reports.

 

It was queried how HMRC's Making Tax Digital had impacted on the County Council and it was advised that the HMRC's planned digitalisation for local government had been delayed for a year.  Preparations were being made by officers in readiness for the introduction.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Internal Audit Progress Report be noted.

57.

Risk Management Progress Report - January 2019 pdf icon PDF 20 KB

(To receive a report by Debbie Bowring (Principal Risk Officer), which invites the Committee to note the current status of the strategic risks facing the Council and make recommendations on any further scrutiny required)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report by Debbie Bowring (Principal Risk Officer), which invited the Committee to note the current status of the strategic risks facing the Council and make recommendations on any further scrutiny required.

 

The Committee was advised that as part of the on-going review and oversight of the Strategic Risk Register, a review of the individual strategic risks with risk owners had been undertaken and assurances had been obtained that the strategic risks were being managed effectively. The Risk Management Progress Report was detailed at Appendix A to the report, which provided updates on key messages received since the last update in September 2018.

 

It was highlighted that Appendix 1 to the progress report had included a summary of each Directorate's Top 5 risks, which had shown that almost all areas had identified having a tactical risk around people; and budget and lack of resources. There were no tactical risks requiring escalation to the Strategic Risk Register or Corporate Management Board at this time. IT Infrastructure had recently been added to the Strategic Risk Register.

 

In response to a question, it was advised that Risk 5 – Ability to deliver our major designated projects had been assessed through the assurance framework; however this had not yet been recorded.  This would be reported to the Committee as part of the next update. 

 

The Committee was assured that the Council's strategic risks continued to be managed pro-actively.  This could be demonstrated with the inclusion of a new risk.  There was a good level of awareness of the current and emerging risks, with positive action being taken where appropriate.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the current status of the strategic risks facing the Council be noted.

58.

Northamptonshire County Council Best Value Inspection - Lessons Learned pdf icon PDF 174 KB

(To receive a report by David Forbes (County Finance Officer), which provides the Committee with a summary from the Lessons Learned exercise completed following the publication of the Northamptonshire County Council Best Value inspection report)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report by Lucy Pledge (Audit and Risk Manager), which provided the Committee with a summary from the 'Lessons Learned Exercise' which had been completed, following the publication of the Northamptonshire County Council and Best Value inspection report.

 

It was reiterated that Lincolnshire County Council had set a balanced budget and had a proven track record for the delivery of savings and careful consideration was given to the level of reserves to support the Council's budget. 

 

Officers did not underestimate the complexity of the budget challenges ahead but were satisfied that the appropriate structures, scrutiny and financial management processes were in place to protect the Council from similar issues at Northamptonshire County Council.

 

However, it was acknowledged that the Council could not afford to be complacent and the report highlighted opportunities for improvement, which covered the following:

 

·    Capital programme reporting;

·    Reporting the benefits realised from flexible use of capital receipts;

·    Updating financial procedures;

·    Better reporting and transparency on delivery of savings targets;

·    Better clarity in committee reports;

·    Capital strategy;

·    Forward financial planning and budget setting for April 2020 onwards;

·    Enhanced councillor training;

·    More robust scrutiny over reserves by the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board (OSMB); and

·    Robust scrutiny over financial risks and risk register by OSMB.

 

The Committee was assured that an evidenced based comparison of the Council's governance and financial management arrangements against the issues highlighted in the Northamptonshire County Council's Best Value Inspection report had given officers assurance that the risk of similar issues occurring at Lincolnshire County Council was low.  However, areas for improvements, as detailed above, had been identified that would further strengthen reporting, scrutiny and transparency.

 

The proposal to enhance member finance / budget training so that it became mandatory, was discussed, and it was suggested that this should be considered at a future meeting of Group Leaders.

 

It was suggested that the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board be requested to consider the report and provide the Executive with assurance on financial resilience.

 

RESOLVED

 

(1)  That the highlighted areas of improvement, as detailed above and in the report, be supported.

 

(2)  That the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board be requested to provide the Executive with assurance on financial resilience.  

59.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 208 KB

(To receive a report by Lucy Pledge (Audit and Risk Manager), which provides the Committee with information on the core assurance activities currently scheduled for the 2019 work plan)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report which provided the Committee with information on the core assurance activities currently scheduled for the 2018/19 work plan.

 

The Committee was reminded that each year a review of the Committee's effectiveness was undertaken.  It was proposed that a workshop would be held during the afternoon of 17 June 2019, following the morning's meeting of the Committee, to undertake this review.

 

It was suggested that the following items be added to the work plan for the meeting on 25 March 2019:

 

·    Accounting Policies; and

·    IMT Governance – Combined Assurance Report.

 

RESOLVED

 

(1)  That the work plan be approved, subject to the inclusion of Accounting Policies; and IMT Governance – Combined Assurance Report for the meeting on 25 March 2019.

 

(2)   That a workshop be held during the afternoon of 17 June 2019, following the morning's meeting of the Committee, to undertake the annual review of the Committee's effectiveness.

 

 
 
dot

Original Text: