Agenda and minutes

Contact: Peter Thompson  Senior Governance & Committee Services Officer

Items
No. Item

61.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Aftab Hussain, Councillor Donna Martin, Councillor Donna Williams; Miranda Carruthers-Watt and Jaime Sanderson.

62.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To consider the minutes of the meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee held on 27September 2021.

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

1.    That the minutes of the meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee held on 27th September 2021 be approved as a correct record.

63.

Declarations of Interest

Members are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary, personal or personal and prejudicial interests they may have and the nature of those interests relating to items on this agenda and/or indicate if S106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 applies to them.   

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

64.

Councillor Dispensations pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate / Monitoring Officer

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Monitoring Officer which advised that in certain circumstances Councillors may be granted a dispensation which enables them to take part in Council business where this would otherwise be prohibited because they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest.

 

Provided Councillors act within the terms of their dispensation there is deemed to be no breach of the Code of Conduct or the law.

 

Section 31(4) of the Localism Act states that dispensations may allow the Councillor:

(a)  to participate, or participate further, in any discussion of the matter at the

meeting (s); and/or

(b)  to participate in any vote, or further vote, taken on the matter at the meeting(s).

 

If a dispensation is granted, the Councillor may remain in the room where the meeting considering the business is being held.

 

The Audit and Governance Committee is responsible for promoting high standards of ethical behaviour by developing, maintaining and monitoring the Member Code of Conduct. The Terms of Reference for the Committee include:

‘Granting dispensations under the provisions of the Localism Act 2011 to enable a Member or co-opted Member to participate in a meeting of the Authority.’

 

The Committee may therefore grant dispensations from the requirements of the Code of Conduct in limited circumstances to enable those members with a disclosable pecuniary interest (“DPI”) to participate and vote on a matter in which they have a prejudicial or DPI

 

Resolved:

1.    That the Audit and Governance Committee approves the following dispensations for all Members of Rochdale Council until 21 December 2025:

(a) Any allowance, payment or indemnity given to Councillors;

(b) Any Ceremonial Honours given to Councillors;

(c) Statutory sick pay under Part X1 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 where they were in receipt of or entitled to receive such pay;

(d) Setting the Council Tax or a precept under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (or any subsequent legislation);

(e) Setting a Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme or Local scheme for the payment of business rates (Including eligibility for rebates and reductions) for the purposes of the Local Government Finance Act 2012 (or any subsequent legislation);

(f) School Meals or School Transport or Travelling expenses where the Councillor is a parent/guardian of a child in full time education or a parent governor (unless the matter relates specifically to the school the child attends);

(g) To the extent that it may amount to a prejudicial or disclosable pecuniary interest, any allowance or other remuneration received from the Council in respect of Council duties or directorships of Council owned ASDVs; and

(h) To allow Councillors to take part and vote on Community Governance Review matters in which they have disclosable pecuniary and prejudicial interests.

 

 

65.

Interim Polling District Review pdf icon PDF 132 KB

To consider the report of the Leader of the Council / Chief Executive

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Neighbourhoods which advised that following the Local Government Boundary Commission for England’s (LGBCE) Electoral Review of Rochdale, the Rochdale (Electoral Changes) Order 2021 has now been enacted making provision for 20 new ward boundaries to come into effect at the local elections in May 2022.

 

Although the LGBCE’s Electoral Review of Rochdale concluded that the Council should continue to be represented by 60 Councillors in 20 wards, in practice there will be extensive changes to existing boundaries along with the addition of one ward name change.

 

In preparation for these new ward boundaries coming into effect, it has been necessary to undertake an interim review of the borough’s polling districts and polling places to ensure adequate voting arrangements are in place.

 

The primary purpose of the review is to ensure that there is an alignment of polling districts with the new ward boundaries in time for the local government elections in May 2022.

 

Resolved:

1.    That the Committee recommends to Council the approval of the proposed pattern of new polling districts and polling places as set out in the submission documents appended to the report.

66.

Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman Annual Review 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 127 KB

The Annual Review of complaints made to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman regarding Rochdale Borough Council in the year ending 31st March 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Neighbourhoods which provided Members with the Annual Review of complaints made to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) about Rochdale Borough Council in the year ending 31 March 2021.

 

Resolved:

1.    That the report and Annual Review letter from the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) about Rochdale Borough Council for the year ending 31 March 2021 be noted.

67.

External Auditor Annual Report pdf icon PDF 494 KB

To receive the report of the External Auditor

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Annual Report from the External Auditor, Mazars.

 

An unqualified opinion was issued on the financial statements on 28th September 2021. In relation to Value for Money arrangements, no significant weaknesses in arrangements were identified and there were no recommendations arising.

 

Resolved:

1.    That the Annual Report from the External Auditor be noted.

 

 

68.

Governance Framework pdf icon PDF 113 KB

To receive the report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate / Monitoring Officer

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Monitoring Officer which advised that the Governance Framework sets out our internal structures, roles and responsibilities for governance. It's what we have in place to ensure we have good governance and that our Code of Corporate Governance is adhered to in our day to day operations and the delivery of council services.

 

This Framework brings together legislative requirements, governance principles and management processes. This ensures that, whatever executive arrangements are in place, the way we operates is based on sound decision making with an effective process to support it.

 

The Framework is intended to be followed as best practice for developing and maintaining a local code of governance and for discharging accountability for the proper conduct of public business, through the publication of the annual governance statement.

 

Resolved:

1.    That the revised Governance Framework be noted;

2.    That the revised Code of Corporate Governance be noted;

3.    That the revised Governance Framework for Significant Partnerships be noted.

69.

Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To receive the report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate / Head of Internal Audit.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Head of Internal Audit which advised that the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy recognises that the Council as a large organisation is at risk of loss due to fraud and corruption both from within the Council and outside it.

 

In meeting the Council’s responsibilities relating to fraud and corruption, whether attempted internally or externally, the Council is committed to an effective anti-fraud and corruption policy designed to:

·         encourage prevention;

·         promote detection;

·         ensure effective investigation where suspected fraud or corruption has occurred; and

·         prosecute offenders where appropriate.

There is an expectation and requirement that all members, employees, consultants, contractors, and service users be fair and honest, and if able to do so, provide help, information and support to assist the investigation of fraud and corruption.

 

Resolved:

1.    That the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy be approved.

70.

Constitution Update - Proper Officer List pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To receive the report of the Monitoring Officer

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Monitoring Officer which advised that the Proper Officer list within the Council’s constitution needed to be updated to include persons appointed as Consultants in Health Protection and / or Consultants in Communicable Disease Control under the provision of The Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010 (Regulations 2, 3 and 6).

 

Resolved:

1.    That the Committee notes the decision of the Monitoring Officer to update the list of Statutory and Proper Officers in the Constitution in relation to the functions as required by The Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010 (Regulations 2, 3 and 6).

71.

2021-22 Audit & Governance Committee Internal Audit Q2 Report pdf icon PDF 192 KB

To receive the report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate / Head of Internal Audit.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Head of Internal Audit which summarised the work of the Internal Audit team during Q2 of financial year 2021/22.

 

51% of the agreed Audit Plan completed ahead of the agreed plan (44%)

 

A substantial or adequate assurance opinion was given for all audits completed during the period.

 

Although Q2 had no ‘limited assurance’ audits, two have been issued / are due to be issued during Q3. A full update of these will be given as part of the Q3 report.

 

The Special Guardianship Orders Audit Report highlighted some procedural concerns with regard to documented processes and financial reviews. These have been discussed with the Director of Children’s Services.

 

The Allis Audit Report in Adult Care highlighted concerns over training and the recording of information

 

Progress has been made against recommendations in the ‘limited’ assurance Corporate Electronic Records Management Audit Report issued during Q1. Details are given in section 6.02 of this report.

 

The Audit Plan is designed to be fluid and amendments have been made to reflect changes within RBC. These changes are detailed in Appendix C.

 

In response to a question from a Member of the Committee with regard to the timeframe for school audits and whether the timescales reflected best practice, it was agreed to bring a report to the next meeting of the Committee.

 

Resolved:

 

1.    That the Internal Audit Quarter Two Report 2021/22 be noted.

72.

2021-22 Audit & Governance Committee Counter Fraud Q2 Report pdf icon PDF 134 KB

To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate / Head of Internal Audit

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Head of Internal Audit that summarised the work of the Counter Fraud Team during the second quarter of 2021/22.

 

The Counter Fraud Team have received 202 referrals during the period and have achieved £166,128 in overpayments and savings.

 

Covid-19 continues to account for a significant amount of the Counter Fraud Team’s time and resource with over 1700 business checks conducted

 

60 allegations of COVID-19 business grant fraud are under investigation.

 

85 allegations relating to Test & Trace are also under investigation.

 

Replies have been made to over 135 Data Protection Requests

 

The impact of the pandemic had meant that interviews under caution were suspended on health & safety grounds. They have now recommenced and three interviews have been conducted in quarter two.

 

Resolved:

1.    That the Counter Fraud Team Quarter Two Report 2021/22 be noted.

73.

Appointment of External Auditors 2023/2024 – 2027/2028 pdf icon PDF 179 KB

To receive a report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate / Chief Finance Officer

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Chief Finance Officer which advised that The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (the Act) at Section 7 states that a “relevant authority must appoint a local auditor to audit its accounts for a financial year not later than 31 December in the preceding financial year.”

 

The current auditor appointment arrangements cover the period up to and including the audit of the 2022/23 accounts.

 

The report set out the options open to the Council and the basis of officers’ recommendation to Audit and Governance Committee to opt into the national arrangement with PSAA.

 

Resolved:

 

1.    That the options for the procurement of external audit services be noted and that support be given to the preferred option to opt into the sector-led option through PSAA for the appointment of external auditors to principal local government and police bodies for five financial years from 1st April 2023.

2.    That the Chair, in consultation with the Chief Finance Officer be authorised to agree the final recommendation to Full Council before March 2022.

 

74.

Risk Management Progress Report - Q2 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 161 KB

To receive the report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate / Head of Risk and Insurance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Risk and Insurance Manager which provided a summary of Risk Management and Insurance work during Quarter 2 of the 2021/22 year.

 

Reviews of the Corporate risk registers managed by both the Council and the Heywood Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have been completed. There are no Red risks to report within either the RBC Corporate risk register or the risk registers of individual RBC Services.

 

A reissued RBC Risk Management Policy was presented for review and comment. The Policy aims to provide clarity on current risk management objectives, responsibilities and processes.

 

The Insurance team achieved a claims cost mitigation result of £438,842 for the claims closed in the quarter.

 

Resolved:

1.    That the Risk Management Progress Report - Q2 2021/22 be noted.

75.

Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider that the press and public be excluded from the remaining part of the meeting pursuant to Section 100(A)4 of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that discussions may involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the provisions of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 and public interest would not be served in publishing the information.

Minutes:

Resolved:

That the Press and Public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following four items of business, in accordance with the provisions of Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.

 

Reason for the Decision:

Should the press and public remain during the debate on the following items, there may be a disclosure of information that is deemed to be exempt under Parts 1 and 4 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972

76.

Risk Management Progress Report Q2 2021/22 - Confidential appendix

Minutes:

Resolved:

1.    That the confidential appendix relating to the Risk Management Progress Report - Q2 2021/22 report be noted.