Venue: County Hall, The Rhadyr, Usk, NP15 1GA
Contact: Democratic Services
Declarations of Interest
Items 6/7: Welsh Church Fund/Monmouthshire Farm School Endowment Trust and ISA260 - Martin Veale declared a personal non-prejudicial interest as a Governor of Coleg Gwent (formerly Usk Agricultural College) in respect of Monmouthshire Farm School Endowment Trust.
Public Open Forum
Governance and Audit Committee Public Open Forum Guidance Our Governance and Audit Committee meetings are live streamed and a link to the live stream will be available on the meeting page of the Monmouthshire County Council website If you would like to share your thoughts on any proposals being discussed by Select Committees, you can submit your representation via this form Please share your views by uploading a video or audio file (maximum of 4 minutes) or; Please submit a written representation (via Microsoft Word, maximum of 500 words) You will need to register for a My Monmouthshire account in order to submit the representation or use your log in, if you have registered previously. The deadline for submitting representations to the Council is 5pm three clear working days in advance of the meeting.
If representations received exceed 30 minutes, a selection of these based on theme will be shared at the Governance and Audit Committee meeting. All representations received will be made available to councillors prior to the meeting. The amount of time afforded to each member of the public to speak is at the chair’s discretion, but to enable us to accommodate multiple speakers, we ask that contributions be no longer than 3 minutes. If you would like to attend one of our meetings to speak under the Public Open Forum at the meeting, you will need to give three working days’ notice by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org If you would like to suggest future topics for scrutiny by Governance and Audit Committee, please do so by emailing email@example.com
No members of the public had expressed an interest to speak.
The Action List from the previous meeting was noted. In doing so, the following points were made:
1. Key Collaborations:
· 1(a) CLOSED. See Agenda Item 5.
· 1(b) OPEN. The Internal Audit Team is conducting an audit of the governance arrangements and will report back to Governance and Audit Committee in due course.
2. Cross referencing reports with Terms of Reference: CLOSED. See Agenda Item 8.
3. MCC Statement of Accounts (final): OPEN. Item deferred from agenda. The Head of Finance provided an update that plans to bring the final accounts to this meeting were well advanced before Christmas, but the development of the 2023/24 budget, and other pressing issues, have caused delays. There is one Audit Wales query outstanding and papers should be ready for the next meeting. It was confirmed that several other Welsh and English authorities have not met the deadlines. The Committee was reminded of the national issues that have led to delays.
It was explained that the deadline of 31st July 2022 was extended to 30th November 2022 then 31st January 2023 (discretionary deadlines). There are no consequences arising from missing these discretionary deadlines. It was accepted that a paper to explain the deferment should have been presented to this meeting. The Audit Wales Officer clarified that the statutory deadline is 31st July 2022. The November and January deadlines were expectations.
4. Anti-Bribery, Fraud and Corruption: Regarding the question raised about vetting of key staff, the Deputy Chief Executive took advice from the Monitoring Officer/Chief Officer, People and Governance and an employment lawyer to assess risk, the controls in place, and to consider the history of fraud in the authority. As there is no history of fraud and a small numbers of cash handling roles, it is considered that there is no net benefit to vetting key staff. Action: CLOSED
5. Unfavourable Internal Audit Opinions: A e mail was circulated to members of the Governance and Audit Committee. Action: CLOSED
The Performance and Data Insight Manager presented a report on Key Collaborations and Partnerships. Following presentation of the report, questions were invited.
Members seeking detailed information outside the scope of the Governance and Audit Committee about the Burns Commission Steering Group, Health Visitors and Flying Start, and Monnow Vale Health And Social Care Facility were directed to the relevant Chief Officers.
A Member sought assurance of robust governance, audit, and reporting back arrangements where there are pooled budgets. It was explained that lead officers are attributed to each collaboration on the list to take responsibility that arrangements are in place. Internal Audit examine a sample from the list to check effectiveness and identify key themes. This work is ongoing, based on samples only and will be reported upon in due course.
A Member asked if there were models or templates for the governance arrangements for partnerships / collaborations and asked how it is decided which authority leads and if there is guidance around proportionality of funding. The Deputy Chief Executive explained that all public bodies will be closely considering the benefits of collaborative work and the ability to deliver key outcomes in the current economic climate. Willingness and trust are implicit for a successful collaboration. The lead authority is decided as part of overall discussions case by case considering if the collaboration is in each authority’s interest. The list and ongoing audit work will provide shared learning to develop future practice for existing and new arrangements.
As suggested by a Member it was agreed to add the job title of the person attributed to each collaboration so that it is easier to understand the position of the collaboration in the internal governance structure.
A Member asked that the nature of the authority’s role is added to the list (a member of the group, partner, board members, leading etc) and also information on the most appropriate scrutiny committee with accountability for oversight of the arrangement in terms of whether anticipated outcomes were being achieved accepting that there may be overlaps.
The Chair welcomed this work as a first step in understanding how the partnerships and collaborations fit into the authority’s governance structure, how they are scrutinised and the role of the governance and audit committee; the next step is to understand and assess more fully the authority’s core governance arrangements as summarised in the Constitution.
As recommended in the report, the Governance and Audit Committee noted the ‘key’ partnership and collaborations identified and provided any feedback. The Governance and Audit Committee will add to its forward work programme a report on partnership and collaboration arrangements with further details regarding governance, reporting arrangements and finances informed by the initial findings identified through the Internal Audit review.
The Head of Finance presented the Audited / Examined Statement Of Accounts 2021/22 – Charitable Trust Funds Report. The following item, the ISA 260 or equivalent for Trust Funds was presented by the Audit Wales Officer. The items were considered together. The Committee was reminded that there is a full audit for the Welsh Church Fund, and an independent examination of the Monmouthshire Farm School Endowment Trust. It is proposed that unqualified opinions are issued for both funds.
Following presentation of the Welsh Church Fund report, Members were invited to ask questions:
Welsh Church Fund:
A Member queried, in the current financial climate, if it would be cheaper to have an independent review instead of Audit Wales’ services. The Head of Finance responded that the authority has responsibilities as custodian of the Welsh Church Fund. The Committee has previously considered this point and concluded to maintain the current arrangement so as to provide sufficient assurance for all the bodies that are members of the consolidated fund.
A Member agreed with this approach as several authorities rely on the Fund for monies to distribute to worthy causes and organisations. The robust audit approach is to be welcomed.
A Member queried how and to whom the monies are distributed and sought clarification on current levels of transparency. The Head of Finance explained that the Welsh Church Fund Committee membership and terms of reference are publicly available on the MCC website. There was a change in the decision-making process during 2022/23. The report of the Grant awards was previously ratified by Cabinet but now this function is carried out by Individual Cabinet Member Decision. Each authority has a different mechanism for awarding grants. Details of the grants awarded by each authority can be made available if required. The details are not published in the accounts as applications are sometimes made by named individuals. It was clarified that if an annual allocation is not spent, it can be rolled forward to the subsequent year.
A Member wished to make it clear that each authority has its own Committee and procedures.
In response to a question, it was confirmed that each authority has reference to the Welsh Church Fund on its website with details of eligibility and the application process. Consideration will be given to disclosure of the types of grants awarded being published in the Welsh Church Fund accounts.
In relation to considering the next annual set of accounts for the Welsh Church Fund. the Chair expressed the view that the trustees should provide an affirmation to the Governance and Audit Committee that grants have been made in accordance with the rules of the trust.
As detailed in the report recommendations, the audited 2021/22 statement of accounts for The Welsh Church Act Fund were approved in conjunction with the Audit Wales ISA260 Audit of Accounts report for The Welsh Church Act Fund.
The Chair signed the letter of representation on behalf of the Committee.
Following presentation of the Monmouthshire Farm School Endowment ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
This item was considered at the same time as the previous item.
The Chief Internal Auditor presented a report on the Governance & Audit Committee Work Programme in line with its Terms of Reference. Following presentation of the report, Members were invited to ask questions:
Members thanked the Chief Internal Auditor for his report and favoured the version in Appendix 2. It was noted that meeting dates were agreed by Council at its last meeting.
As per the report recommendations, the Governance & Audit Committee approved the proposed new format for the Governance & Audit Committee’s forward work programme which aligns with its Terms of Reference.
The Governance and Audit Committee Work Programme was noted.
The following items were added:
· Implications arising from the proposal to remove the vacant Senior Auditor post from the structure as a budget saving.
· Internal Audit Q3 Report to be moved from the March agenda to February
It was agreed to review the number/priority of items for the February and March agenda so as to ensure an appropriate balance.
The minutes of the meeting held on 24th November 2022 were confirmed as an accurate record.
To note the date of the next meeting as 16th February 2023 at 2.00pm
To consider whether to exclude the press and public from the meeting during consideration of the following items of business in accordance with Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, that it involves the information as defined in Paragraph 14 of Part 4 of Schedule 12A to the Act (proper officers view attached) PDF 287 KB
The Committee agreed to exclude the press and public from the meeting during consideration of the following items of business in accordance with Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, that it involves the information as defined in Paragraph 14 of Part 4 of Schedule 12A to the Act. The Proper Officer’s view was noted.
Cyber Security Report
The Head of Digital and the Chief Information Security Officer presented a report on Cyber Security. The Audit Wales report “Learning from cyber-attacks” was also considered. Members were provided with the opportunity to ask questions following presentation of the report.
· Business Continuity Planning
· Collaboration with SRS, scrutiny of governance arrangements and reporting back to Governance and Audit Committee
· Staff Training
· Cyber-attacks and prevention