Audit Committee Minutes - 26 September 2005

Audit Committee Minutes - 26 September 2005

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Audit Committee Minutes of a meeting of the Audit Committee held in the Warren Room, Lewes House, 32 High Street, Lewes on Monday, 26 September 2005 at 2.30pm Present: Councillors J M Harrison-Hicks (Chair), J F Daly, K G Davies, J E Lewry and J H Webber Officers attending: Andy Bryce, Head of Waste and Recycling Services (Items 10 to 14) David Feintuck, Committee Officer David Heath, Head of Audit and Performance Also attending: Councillor S I C James Richard Smith, Audit Manager, Audit Commission Stephen Aynsley-Smith, Audit Commission Apologies: Councillors R C S Brown and J A Ost Minutes Action 10 Declaration of Substitute Members Councillor Lewry declared that she was substituting for Councillor Ost. 11 Minutes The Minutes of the meeting held on 27 June 2005 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair. 6 Audit Committee 7 26 September 2005 12 Progress Report on decisions taken by the Audit Committee The Committee considered Report No 228/05 which updated the Committee on the progress made with regard to the decisions of the Audit Committee. Minute No 5.2 The Head of Audit and Performance stated that the Annual Report of the Council's Systems of Internal Control 2004/2005 had been reported with the Final Accounts (as part of the Statement of Internal Control) for that year and submitted to the Cabinet. Minute No 6.1 Copies of the 2003/2004 Statement on Internal Control were provided for members and a copy ...

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Audit Committee
Minutes
of a meeting of the
Audit Committee
held in the
Warren Room, Lewes
House, 32 High Street, Lewes
on
Monday, 26 September 2005
at 2.30pm
Present:
Councillors J M Harrison-Hicks (Chair), J F Daly, K G Davies, J E Lewry and
J H Webber
Officers attending:
Andy Bryce, Head of Waste and Recycling Services (Items 10 to 14)
David Feintuck, Committee Officer
David Heath, Head of Audit and Performance
Also attending:
Councillor S I C James
Richard Smith, Audit Manager, Audit Commission
Stephen Aynsley-Smith, Audit Commission
Apologies:
Councillors R C S Brown and J A Ost
Minutes
Action
10
Declaration of Substitute Members
Councillor Lewry declared that she was substituting for Councillor Ost.
11
Minutes
The Minutes of the meeting held on 27 June 2005 were approved as
a correct record and signed by the Chair.
6
Audit Committee
7
26 September 2005
12
Progress Report on decisions taken by the Audit Committee
The Committee considered Report No 228/05 which updated the
Committee on the progress made with regard to the decisions of the Audit
Committee.
Minute No 5.2
The Head of Audit and Performance stated that the Annual Report of the
Council's Systems of Internal Control 2004/2005 had been reported with the
Final Accounts (as part of the Statement of Internal Control) for that year
and submitted to the Cabinet.
Minute No 6.1
Copies of the 2003/2004 Statement on Internal Control were provided for
members and a copy appears in the Minute Book.
Minute No 8.1
Insufficient members had been able to attend the information session
arranged prior to the meeting to make the session viable.
Minute No 9.2
Future meeting dates were considered at Item 17 below.
Resolved:
12.1
That the Report be noted.
13
Audit Commission - Interim Regularity Memorandum, Lewes District
Council, Audit 2004/2005
The Committee considered Report No 229/05 which updated the
Committee on the progress of the Audit Commission's work.
Mr Aynsley-Smith stated that it was hoped that the Council's accounts for
2004/2005 would shortly be signed off.
The Report focused on the financial
aspect of corporate governance, an opinion audit and a review of internal
audit.
The recommendations contained within the Summary Report had
been accepted and steps taken to include revised procedures as
appropriate.
The Report noted that, overall, Internal Audit was found to be
an effective function of the Council.
In response to councillors' questions, Mr Smith explained that the term
"adequate" (paragraph 30 of the Report) indicated there were no issues of
concern to report.
With regard to recommendation 1, procedural notes for
the main accounting system were to be reviewed and updated annually.
Mr Smith stated that, with regard to the 2005/2006 audit, a new grading
system involving a scored judgment with regard to use of resources would
Audit Committee
8
26 September 2005
be used, in the first instance in the Audit and Inspection Letter of
March 2006.
Resolved:
13.1
That the Report be noted.
14
Discussion of Audit Commission Inspection Report on Waste,
Recycling and Street Cleansing
Mr Smith stated that the Report in question had formed an aspect of the
Audit Commission's Inspection Plan for the Council and a feedback session
on the Report (a copy of which appears in the Minute Book) had been held
on 22 September 2005.
The Head of Waste and Recycling Services stated that issues existed with
regard to the Inspection Report both factual and interpretative.
Only a short
time window for appeal had been available.
With regard to staff issues, the Head of Service disputed that more
permanent frontline staff were needed.
High sickness levels had resulted
in a particularly high use of agency staff at the time of the inspection but in
general it was not possible to incorporate a great deal of slack in the
system.
The "uncertain result" with regard to confidence in improvement in the
service contained in the Report resulted from the Council failing to adopt
a strategy linked to the medium-term financial plan and steps were in place
to remedy this in the future.
The statistics with regard to reliability of service and the number of missed
bins, as stated in the Report, did not reflect that in totality the Council
successfully collected 99.86% of bins.
There was an Improvement Plan in
place including proposals to move from back door collection to edge of
curtilage.
While the Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPIs) as illustrated in the
Report were generally good, for example with regard to the percentage of
recycling of waste per head, the Head of Service suggested that the Audit
Commission had been inconsistent in using national and family group
comparators.
The Council had been scrupulously honest in reporting the
percentage of properties for which waste recycling was available.
In terms
of national comparators seven out of nine of the Council's BVPIs were
"good" or "better".
A systematic complaints procedure was already in place at the time of the
inspection, the reporting of which had been skewed by confusion over
responses from operators.
Audit Committee
9
26 September 2005
DEFRA funding had been awarded for pump priming the kerbside
collections, following which there had been increased revenue and staff
costs.
The most recent Capita report now showed the Council incurred
average costs.
In response to councillors' questions, the Head of Service stated that
suggestion boxes now existed to promote internal challenge and advice.
Regular team briefings and information sessions took place for recycling
staff.
Refuse Collectors had annual appraisals and a new Operations
Manager was in place but regular meetings were difficult because of the
task and finish nature of the work.
The Head of Service stated that the Report provided useful ideas for the
Service Improvement Plan, Sustainable Waste Management Plan and the
Joint Waste Strategy discussions currently taking place.
Mr Smith explained that the arrangements for audit and inspection differed
and recognised that it was disappointing for the Council not to recognise
itself within the Report.
It was for the Council to decide which actions to
take as a result of the Report.
15
Interim Report on the Council's Systems of Internal Control (SIC)
2005/06
The Committee considered Report No 230/05, which informed councillors of
the internal audit work of the Audit and Performance Division for the first
five months of 2005/2006 and on the adequacy and effectiveness of the
Council's systems of internal control during that period.
The Head of Audit and Performance stated that the format of the Report
was informed by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy
(CIPFA) and helped the Council meet that organisation's Code of Practice.
Paragraph 3.1 of the Report stated that, in the opinion of the Head of Audit
and Performance, the overall standards of internal control were satisfactory
as informed by aspects of risk management (paragraph 5.3 of the Report)
and external assurance (paragraph 6 of the Report).
While the initial Audit Plan days were estimated with regard to the
information available then, various factors affected the rate and order in
which audit work was undertaken.
By the end of the year it was expected
that the planned audit and actual audit days would broadly balance out as
had happened in the past.
Paragraphs 4.5 to 4.13 of the Report detailed
the audit work undertaken.
The Head of Audit and Performance drew the attention of the Committee to
paragraph 4.6 with regard to the managed audit arrangement for the
Council’s Benefit Subsidy claim which would, it was hoped, save the
Council approximately £20,000 during the financial year.
A significant
amount of time had been spent providing guidance on the new Agresso
Audit Committee
10
26 September 2005
system during its installation (paragraph 10 of the Report) and steps were
being taken to reduce the EMAS Audit time (paragraph 4.12 of the Report).
Resolved:
15.1
That the Report be noted
16
Internal Audit Benchmarking 2004/2005
The Committee considered Report No 231/05 which considered the internal
audit work of the Audit and Performance Division in comparison with other
local internal audit departments.
The Head of Audit and Performance explained the formation of the Sussex
Audit Group (SAG) (paragraph 3 of the Report).
It was hoped additional
authorities would subscribe to SAG next year to make the benchmarking
exercise even more meaningful.
Appendix A to the Report compared the
Council's performance to that of the other SAG members.
Ways to improve
the percentage of the plan completed were being considered.
A target of
90% Audit Plan completion had now been set.
The Council's figures for
costs per chargeable day were the lowest within the Group by some way
and the Council's Audit and Performance Division produced the highest
output.
The Division might consider doing slightly less audits and allocating
more days to specific audits.
The Council also belonged to the CIPFA Benchmarking Club, comparisons
for which were listed in Appendix B to the Report.
Benchmarking itself
contributed to assessing the Value for Money of the service.
Assessment of
Value for Money was a key element of the Use of Resources assessment of
the Council to be undertaken by the Audit Commission.
The results showed
the Internal Audit service at Lewes was adequately resourced and achieved
satisfactory standards of output and efficiency.
Resolved:
16.1
That the Report be noted.
17
Date of Next Meeting
The Committee considered councillors' availability with regard to
subsequent meetings of the Committee.
Resolved:
17.1
That the next meeting of the Committee be held on 5 December 2005,
as scheduled and that the scheduled dates for the remaining meetings
for the municipal year be retained.
Audit Committee
11
26 September 2005
18
Vote of Thanks
Former Councillor John Best, who had ably chaired the Audit Committee in
the recent past, had recently resigned from the Council on grounds of ill
health and the Committee expressed its thanks to Mr Best for his work on
behalf of the Committee over the years and wished him well in the future.
The meeting ended at 3.50pm.
J M Harrison-Hicks
Chair