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Venue: Virtual Meeting
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The Chair welcomed all those present to this meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee; he extended a particular welcome to Councillor Jeff Evans who was present at his first meeting of the Committee following his election as a councillor for the Holyhead electoral area and in doing so he thanked Councillor Roberts Llewelyn Jones who was stepping down from the Committee, for his valued service to the Governance and Audit Committee over a number of years. The Chair further informed the Members that the meeting would be live streamed and would be available for subsequent and repeated viewing.
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declaration of interest by any Member or Officer in respect of any item of business.
No declaration of interest was received.
To present the minutes of the previous meetings of the Governance and Audit Committee held on the following dates –
· 20 April, 2021
· 18 May, 2021 (election of Chair/Vice-Chair)
The minutes of the previous meetings of the Governance and Audit Committee held on 20 April, 2021 and 18 May, 2021 were presented and were confirmed as correct.
Arising thereon -
· With reference to the cyber security E-learning module that Members are required to complete, Councillor Alun Roberts said that he could not recollect seeing a reminder or electronic link to access the module which it was agreed at the 20 April meeting would be re-sent to the Committee’s members. The Chair said that the matter had been raised at the pre-meeting and that he understood that Members would now be receiving an e-mail with details of whom to contact in the Training and Development Team to arrange to undertake the learning module.
The Head of Audit and Risk confirmed that following this meeting she would circulate among the Committee’s members the contact details for the Training Officer from the HR’s Training and Development Team. She clarified that although a bulletin with e-learning details was sent out to Members on 9 April, there remain issues with Members being able to access the E-learning Portal which the Training Officer has agreed to help address on an individual basis. On receiving the contact details Members are therefore advised to get in touch with the Training Officer.
· In response to the Committee’s query at the previous meeting about whether the Local Government and Election (Wales) Act 2021 will have an impact on the work of Internal Audit, the Head of Audit and Risk said that having checked the provisions of the Act she could confirm that the resulting changes are confined to the Committee’s work and will have no effect on Internal Audit’s work.
To present the report of the Head of Audit and Risk.
The Annual Report of the Internal Audit Service for 2020/21 was presented for the Committee’s consideration. The report outlined the Internal Audit work carried out during the year ended 31 March, 2021 based on which the Head of Audit and Risk gave her overall opinion on the adequacy and effectiveness of the Council’s framework of governance, risk management and control during the year which also informs the Council’s Annual Governance Statement.
Ahead of presenting the report, the Head of Audit and Risk advised the Committee that she had been alerted by a member to the possibility that in raising questions on the two Limited Assurance reports that accompanies the Annual Report, the one in relation to ICT Service Continuity (Phishing) and the other in relation to the Identification of Duplicate Invoices and Recovery of Duplicate Payments, information may be disclosed that could lead to the identity of an individual(s) being revealed; discussion of the reports could also disclose sensitive information with regard to the business affairs of the Council. Having sought the advice of the Monitoring Officer and having discussed the matter with the Chair beforehand it was proposed that discussion of those two reports be therefore deferred to the end of the meeting when the Committee will be asked to consider going into private session and to exclude the press and public from the meeting. The Committee agreed to the arrangement proposed for dealing with the two Limited Assurance reports.
The Head of Audit and Risk reported that the Annual Report is presented under the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) which require the “chief audit executive” i.e. the Head of Audit and Risk in the Council’s case to deliver an annual internal audit opinion that the organisation can use to inform its Annual Governance Statement. The annual opinion must include an opinion on the overall adequacy and effectiveness of the organisation’s risk management, control and governance processes; any qualifications to that opinion and the reasons for the qualification; a summary of the audit work from which the opinion is derived including reliance placed on other assurance bodies; any issues which the chief audit executive judges relevant to the preparation of the Annual Governance Statement; a summary of the performance of the internal audit function against its performance measures and a comment on compliance with the PSIAS and the results of the Internal Audit quality assurance programme.
The Head of Audit and Risk confirmed that it was her opinion as the “Chief Audit Executive” for the Isle of Anglesey County Council that for the 12 months ended 31 March, 2021, the organisation had an adequate and effective framework for risk management, governance and internal control. While the Head of Audit and Risk does not consider there to be any areas of significant concern, some areas require the introduction or improvement of internal controls to ensure the achievement of objectives, and these are the subject of monitoring. There are no qualifications to this opinion.
The opinion above was reached based ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To present the report of the Chair of the Committee.
The Annual Report of the Governance and Audit Committee for 2020/21 was presented for the Committee’s endorsement. The Committee is required to report to those charged with governance i.e. the County Council an assessment of its performance on its activities during the year to demonstrate how the Committee has discharged its responsibilities. The report outlines the work of the Committee during 2020/21 and how it has undertaken its responsibilities for reviewing the key areas within its remit.
The Head of Audit and Risk referred to an inaccuracy at Appendix A of the report which sets out the frequency of meetings and Members’ attendance, with regard to the total in attendance at the 1 December, 2020 and 9 February, 2021 meetings where Councillor Robin Williams (Portfolio Member for Finance but not a member of the Committee) has inadvertently been included in the attendance numbers.
In reviewing the report, the following points/suggestions were made by the Vice-Chair –
· Clarification of paragraph 6 headed Annual Governance Statement 2019/20 and the relevance of the reference to the External Audit report on the Financial Statements to the subject matter. The Head of Audit and Risk clarified that the AGS is published as part of the Financial Statements which reflect the Authority’s financial activities and how it spends its money and as such show how financial governance is exercised by the Council within the wider governance framework.
· With regard to paragraph 15 where it refers to the Committee’s request for a response from the relevant Head of Service to the year on year decline in the policy acceptance compliance level of the service’s staff , to include the response if forthcoming and if not, to say so. The Head of Audit and Risk confirmed that she would follow the matter up to confirm whether or not a response had been received.
· Repetition with regard to the frequency of meetings at paragraphs 66 and 67. The Head of Audit and Risk clarified that paragraph 66 refers to the CIPFA Guidance which states that the Committee should meet regularly and paragraph 67 refers to the Committee’s terms of reference which require it to meet at least four times per year.
· Replace “Membership” with “Members” in the first sentence of paragraph 71.
· At paragraph 74 to add that the Council did resolve to amend the Constitution to reduce the number of lay members required on the Governance and Audit Committee from two to one.
The Chair took the opportunity to thank both his fellow members and the staff of the Finance and Internal Audit services for their support and contribution to the work of the Committee during a difficult year. He further paid tribute to the Finance Service’s staff for their work in administering and processing Welsh Government’s business support grants during the pandemic which was in addition to their day to day work.
It was resolved to endorse the Annual Report of the Governance and Audit Committee for 2020/21 prior to its submission to the meeting of the ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To present the report of the Head of Audit and Risk.
The report of the Head of Audit and Risk incorporating the Committee’s proposed Forward Work Programme for 2021/22 was presented for the Committee’s consideration.
The Head of Audit and Risk advised that the proposed Forward Work programme at Appendix A takes into account the Committee’s core functions and new legislation and that it has also been informed by consultation with services contributing reports to the Committee. Although value for money (VFM) is not specifically included as a subject matter VFM is intrinsically linked to all Internal Audit’s work and is also an aspect of External Audit’s work who as part of their responsibilities provide a VFM opinion in their annual audit summary which is presented to the Committee in its December meeting.
It was resolved to approve the proposed Forward Work Programme for 2021/22 as meeting the Committee’s assurance needs.