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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Rooms A and B, Civic Offices, Elstree Way, Borehamwood

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Items
No. Item

730.

Membership

To receive details of any changes in membership of the Committee notified since the agenda was printed.

Minutes:

No change of membership had been made since the publication of the agenda.

 

731.

Communications and Apologies

(a)            Communications (if any) relating to business on the agenda.

 

(b)            Apologies for absence.

Minutes:

The Chairman reported that he intended to take agenda item 12 immediately after item 4. It was reported that apologies for absence had been received from Councillors Dobin and Gilligan.

 

732.

Declarations of Interest

Members must clearly state the nature of the interest, and indicate whether it is Personal or Personal and Prejudicial.  The responsibility for declaring an interest rests solely with the Member concerned.

 

Personal interests: A personal interest arises in relation to any matter which might reasonably be regarded as affecting, to a greater extent than other Council Tax payers, ratepayers or inhabitants of the authority’s area, the well‑being or financial position of the Member or of a relevant person.

 

Where that interest arises solely from membership of, or position of control or management on a body to which the Member has been appointed or nominated by the Council or another body exercising functions of a public nature then, provided they do not also have a prejudicial interest, Members need only declare a personal interest at a meeting when they address the meeting on that business.

 

Personal and Prejudicial interests: A Member has a personal and prejudicial interest in a matter if the interest is one which a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts would reasonably regard as so significant that it is likely to prejudice the Member’s judgement of the public interest.  In these cases the Member concerned must declare the interest and withdraw from the meeting room while the matter is being considered.  Members with such interests may, however, attend the meeting for the purpose of making representations, answering questions or giving evidence relating to the business where the public have a similar right.

 

Further details and full definitions of personal and prejudicial interests are set out in the Councillors’ Code of Conduct (Section 5.1 of the Constitution).

Minutes:

No Members had an interest to declare in relation to the items of business on the agenda for the meeting.

 

733.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 68 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 4 January 2012.

 

In accordance with the Constitution, no discussion shall take place upon the minutes, except upon their accuracy.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 4 January 2012 be approved and signed as a correct record.

 

734.

Anit-Fraud Unit - 2011/12 Progress Report and 2012/13 Targets. pdf icon PDF 79 KB

This report provides Members with information on progress with anti-fraud work.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Finance Manager reported to the Committee with information on the Anti-Fraud Team’s performance in 2011/12, along with proposed targets for 2012/13.

 

The targets set for 2011/12 had been met with the exception of the number of cases investigated. This was because of the higher than expected number of complex and time consuming cases carried out during the year. The backlog of cases, mentioned in the report to 4 January 2012 meeting, had been cleared following the recruitment of a temporary fraud investigator.

 

The Committee noted that overpayments amounting to £262,000 had been identified, of which £117,000 had been recovered. Six prosecution cases had been concluded since the last meeting, which included one custodial sentence and two suspended custodial sentences.

 

In a response to a suggestion from the Chairman, the Finance Manager agreed to look at the prioritisation of pending cases so that high priority cases could be identified and dealt with expeditiously. An explanation of the priority system was to be included within the report to the next meeting.

 

The meeting debated the forthcoming universal benefit changes and asked that the next meeting be informed of the main changes and Hertsmere’s response. 

 

RESOLVED that

 

(1)       the performance of the Council’s Anti-Fraud Team during the period April 2011 to March 2012 be noted;

 

(2)       the proposed targets for the Anti-Fraud Team for 2012/13, as part of the Finance and Business Services Service Plan, be approved;

 

(3)       an explanation of how unallocated cases are allocated a risk rating be made to the next meeting, and

 

(4)       information on the response of Hertsmere to forthcoming changes to universal benefits be made to the next meeting.

 

735.

Grant Thornton Progress Report April 2012 pdf icon PDF 149 KB

The progress report of Grant Thornton provides information on: - the Interim Audit; District Councils – technical training update; Audit Fee 2012/13 and Publications.

 

Minutes:

Mr A Smith of Grant Thornton, introduced the progress report and pointed out that the VAT health check had yet to begin.

 

The Chairman asked about the level of audit fees and whether the Audit Commission was reducing its fee fast enough. He was informed that fees were being reduced as fast as the Commission would allow. In the context of the Annual Governance Statement, the Chairman asked for feedback on the effectiveness of the Council’s audit and scrutiny work and Grant Thornton said that they would look at that.  

 

RESOLVED that the Grant Thornton progress report be noted.

 

736.

Risk Management Annual Report 2011/12 pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Report A/12/10 provides Members with a summary of the Council’s risk management performance during the 2011/12 financial year.

 

Minutes:

The Director of Resources reported to the Committee on arrangements made by this Authority to manage risk. She pointed out that the Council’s internal auditors had carried out an audit on the Council’s risk management and had made three high rated recommendations. The meeting noted that two had been actioned and the third was in hand. 

 

RESOLVED that the risk management performance of the Council during 2011/12 be noted.

 

737.

SIAS Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 126 KB

This report provides Members with the Terms of Reference for the Shared Internal Audit Service.

 

Minutes:

The Audit Manager advised the Committee of the terms of reference for the Shared Internal Audit Service (SIAS). These set out the framework within which Internal Audit would discharge its responsibilities to those charged with governance in the SIAS partner authorities.

 

RESOLVED that the Shared Internal Audit Service terms of reference, as part of compliance with the CIPFA Code of Practice for internal audit in Local Government 2006, be approved.

 

738.

SIAS Progress Report pdf icon PDF 236 KB

Report A/12/15 provides information on:- the delivery of the Internal Audit Plan; audit findings; proposed amendments to the Audit Plan; the implementation of agreed Audit recommendations and performance management information as at 28 March 2012.

 

Minutes:

The Committee was informed by the Audit Manager of: progress made by the Shared Internal Audit Services (SIAS) in delivering the Council’s Internal Audit Plan; findings for the period 16 December 2011 to 28 March 2012; proposed amendments required to the approved Audit Plan; the implementation status of previously agreed audit recommendations, and an update on performance management information. He added that 95% of the Audit Plan had been achieved which compared favourably with the 85% anticipated.

 

One of the previously agreed audit recommendations related to the Members’ Allowances Scheme and gave rise to a debate on the complexity of the existing scheme. The Chairman raised the administrative costs of verifying small-scale expense claims within the Member Allowances Scheme and suggested that prior to a revised Scheme being presented to Council, it should be sent to Scrutiny for comment.

 

RESOLVED that

 

(1)       the Internal Audit progress report be noted, and

 

(2)       the amendment to the Audit Plan as at 28 March 2012, be approved.

 

739.

SIAS Audit Plan and Audit Strategy 2012/13 pdf icon PDF 264 KB

This report provides Members with the Shared Internal Audit Service Audit Strategy 2012/13 and the proposed Internal Audit Plan 2012/13.

 

Minutes:

The Audit Manager submitted the Shared Internal Audit Service Audit Strategy 2012-13 and the proposed Hertsmere Borough Council Internal Audit Plan 2012-13. The Audit Plan set out the programme of internal audit work for the year ahead and was designed to implement the Audit Strategy. In his introduction of the Strategy and Plan, the Audit Manager pointed out that the plan was risk framed and flexible and responsive. The meeting noted that the Plan contained capacity to carry out additional work if need be.

 

The Committee noted that any SIAS high priority recommendation not agreed by the Council would be reported to this Committee.           

 

RESOLVED that

 

(1)       the Shared Internal Audit Service Audit Strategy 2012-13, as part of compliance with the CIPFA Code of Practice for Internal Audit in Local Government 2006, be approved, and

 

(2)       the proposed Hertsmere Borough Council Internal Audit Plan 2012-13 be approved.

 

740.

Reporting on Accounting for Heritage Assets pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Report A/12/13 makes recommendations on the requirement to account for Heritage Assets in accordance with Financial Reporting Standards.

 

Minutes:

The Head of Finance provided the Committee with information on the requirement to account for heritage assets in accordance with Financial Reporting Standard 30.

 

RESOLVED that the information contained in the report of the Head of Finance on the treatment of Heritage Assets be noted and the recommended paragraphs be approved for inclusion in the notes to the accounts.

 

741.

External Auditor's Recommendations - Officers update report pdf icon PDF 80 KB

This report provides Members with an update on progress made with the implementation of agreed recommendations in reports from the Council’s External Auditors.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Finance reported with an update on progress made with the implementation of agreed recommendations in reports produced by the Council’s External Auditors.

 

The Council’s external auditor advised the Committee to consider the recommendation on the use of a spreadsheet as its fixed asset register and then move on. It was acceptable to continue with the spreadsheet, if that met the Council’s need.

 

The Committee noted that those recommendations relating to planning would be included on the next report. The Chairman asked that any recommendations removed from the appendix be mentioned in the body of the next report.

 

RESOLVED that the information contained in the report of the Head of Finance (Report A/12/14) be noted.

 

742.

Any other business

Minutes:

The Chairman asked about progress with implementation of the external audit recommendations on the planning service. He particularly wanted to know if the capital bid had been approved. The Director of Resources replied that the case here was one of efficiency and that funds were available to meet any costs arising. The Council’s External Auditor expressed a wish to know the final outcome of this matter and would pursue this at a planned meeting with the Director of Resources. 

 

743.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee is scheduled to take place on 19 July 2012 at 7.30pm in the Civic Offices, Elstree Way, Borehamwood.

 

(Note this date has been changed from 12 June 2012)

 

 

Minutes:

Noted that the next meeting of this Committee would be held on Thursday, 19 July 2012. The Chairman asked that all members of the Council be invited to attend this meeting which will consider the Council’s 2011/12 final accounts.