The Action List from the previous meeting was noted.
1. Key Collaborations and Partnerships: The Chief Internal Auditor (CIA) reported that the draft report was issued in June with an opinion of “Reasonable Assurance”. The audit was a risk-based review of strategic partnerships and collaboration arrangements to ensure that all partnerships were identified, monitored and effectively governed. The draft report is with the Performance and Data Insight Manager and Head of Policy, Performance and Scrutiny to consider the recommendations and management actions. The report will be presented at the next meeting.
2. Finance Team Capacity: An e mail from the Head of Finance had been circulated to Committee Members providing background information and outlining a plan for resolution. The staffing structure budgets for 35.41 FTE and there are currently 32.6 FTE in post (Vacancy rate 7.9%). The Assistant Head of Finance post was vacated in Spring 2022 and interim arrangements have been in place since but there is some impact on workloads. High-risk areas have been prioritised mainly to maintain the financial sustainability of the authority and to ensure that timely, accurate financial information is available.
It is planned to resolve the issue in 8 to 12 weeks. In doing so, key areas to strengthen include grant administration (as the volume and value of specific grants has increased), capital scheme support, project work and to reduce the draw on senior finance officer time to concentrate on strategic financial focus given the turbulence and challenge this year and forecast over the medium term.
The Team was congratulated on bringing forward the date of the draft statement of accounts.
A verbal update was requested at the next meeting on progress in filling these vacancies and further information on which items were being de-prioritised.
3. People Strategy and Asset Management Plan: To be reported to the November meeting.
4. Social Enterprise (slippage of nearly a decade Wales-wide): A written response to the question was circulated to the Committee yesterday. The Action to remain open to allow the opportunity for all Members to read the response.
5. Annual Complaints Report Weighting System: Consideration to be given to this matter before presentation of the next annual complaints report.
6. Strategic Risk Register: To be reported upon in November 2023.
7. Audit of the SRS (Torfaen CBC): Noting that the SRS is likely to be the authority’s most significant collaboration, it was agreed that the Committee considers this action as part of its deliberations on the draft report on key collaborations and partnerships (at 1. above), when presented.
8. Freedom of Information, Data Protection and Data Subject Access Requests:
i) Information on mandatory training completion rates to be sent to the Committee outside the meeting
ii) Information on governance arrangements for the policies for these areas.to be sent to the Committee outside the meeting
iii) Consideration of corporate risk control policies (extending beyond IT and data protection) that the Committee should periodically review and recommend for approval across the authority: It is planned to report back in October once the Governance Working Group has met.
9. Internal Audit Annual Report - Old Station Tintern: The CIA provided a verbal report when this matter was considered later in today’s meeting.
10.Draft Operational Plan:
The Deputy Chief Executive explained that there are 5.5 FTE in the Internal Audit Team structure. The recruitment in progress for the Senior Auditor post will increase staff to 5 FTE. In terms of the senior roles, the Audit Manager is acting up as the CIA, and 0.5 FTE is unfilled. This situation will be managed in the interim and will provide vacancy savings. There is flexibility, subject to available budget, to draw on Internal Audit Consortia or other services to cover any shortfall in the interim whilst the regional consortium option is explored. The Chair expressed concern about the potential for material shortfall at this time. The Deputy Chief Executive provided assurance that funds would be secured from the wider budget to return to a satisfactory position agreeing that stability in the Team is a priority. A further update was requested at the next meeting.