Agenda and minutes

Audit and Standards Committee - Tuesday 12th December 2017 2:00pm

Venue: Oak Room, County Buildings, Stafford. View directions

Contact: Carol Bloxham  Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the Meeting held on 25 September 2017 pdf icon PDF 144 KB


RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 September be approved and signed by the Chairman.


Annual Audit Letter for Year Ended 31 March 2017 pdf icon PDF 3 MB

Report of Ernst and Young LLP


Mr Jason Burgess from Ernst & Young informed the Committee that the external auditors were required to issue an annual audit letter to Staffordshire County Council following completion of their audit procedures for the year ended 31 March 2017.  The letter was shared with Members.  No questions were asked.


RESOLVED: The report was received.


Annual Report on Health, Safety and Wellbeing Performance 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 453 KB

Report and Presentation by the Director of Finance and Resources


Mrs Rebecca Lee introduced her report drawing Members’ attention to some of the highlights in the report, progress against key action points for 2016/17 and identifying key priorities for 2017/18.  The report detailed the key successes of the service; gave details of Service Level Agreements with schools and described what the Council was doing to improve the health of the workforce.  The Council has agreed a range of key performance indicators, details of these were given in Appendix 1 to the report.  She went on to describe the health and safety evaluation process; accident and incident data; costs of accidents and incidents; internal health and safety investigations; incidents during 2016/17; Health and Safety Executive’s involvement; details of joint consultation; the work of the Occupational Health Unit and details of liability claims. New legislation and key topics for 2017/18 were described and key actions.


In summary she stated that it had been a successful year for the health, safety and wellbeing service, although there remains room for improvement.  The number of accidents, incidents and reportable incidents had declined and the risk management audit reported a 100 per cent return.  There was also a good level of return for the Management Standards survey, although the response from schools could be improved.  Planned audits were completed. 


To add to the points made in her report, she stated that Personal Resilience Training had been in high demand and extra courses had been added to the training programme.


Members asked for the reason behind the 588 incidents toward employees and were told that the number related mainly to incidents in units with children with challenging behaviour and was not due to aggression towards staff by the public. 


There had been a 29 per cent increase in the staff absence due to psychological disorders.  Members asked details of the reasons behind this increase and were informed that the increase was spread across the organisation, but with more cases in Families First where staff were on the frontline.  The significant increase had followed a period when the figure had been in decline.  Mental health and wellbeing was being discussed in the organisation and her Service was now looking at what else they could do to raise awareness and encourage staff to get help at an early stage so that they could get well and return to work.  One Member asked for caution in the use of terminology, specifically the use of the term ‘psychological disorder’.


In regard to Fire Inspections, Members asked in the light of the Grenfell Tower fire, if anything significant had been found.  Members were assured that the main findings were around fire doors showing signs of wear and tear and this had been reported for action to Strategic Property.  There are few buildings in Staffordshire clad with ACM material and these are low level buildings. 


Members asked if the Council benchmarks itself against other authorities.  Mrs Lee stated she met with colleagues in the West Midlands regularly but the difficulty she had was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 93.


Internal Audit External Quality Assessment pdf icon PDF 286 KB

Report of the Director of Finance and Resources


Lisa Andrews, Interim Head of Audit and Financial Services gave an overview of the internal audit external quality assessment and asked Members to note the terms of reference for the audit review scheduled to take place from 22 January 2018 for one week. 


The report outlined the approach that the assessment will follow.  Standard 1300 outlines the requirements for a Quality Assurance and Improvement Programme (QAIP) for the Internal Audit Service and details the key aspects.


In addition, Standard 1310 sets out the requirements for the QAIP to include both internal and external assessments. Following a Joint Procurement exercise with local government colleagues, Ray Gard, from CIPFA has been appointed as external quality assessor.  The review will be undertaken through a process of interviews with key stakeholders, including Members of the Audit and Standards Committee, the main external clients and a document review. 


The review will include a review of the number of documents that are considered fundamental to the exercise and these are listed in paragraph 8 of the report.  The assessor would like to make a visit to the Audit and Standards Committee but unfortunately there was not a meeting scheduled at the point of this visit and may therefore send out a questionnaire to Members.  A meeting will be scheduled with the Chairman of the Committee.


A final report will be produced and shared with the Committee in March 2018.  There were no questions asked.


RESOLVED: The report was noted.


Internal Audit Plan 2017/18 - Annual Update pdf icon PDF 360 KB

Report of the Director of Finance and Resources

Additional documents:


Lisa Andrews, Interim Head of Audit and Financial Services updated Members on the progress against the 2017/18 Internal Audit Plan and the amendments to the original Plan, including those audits that had been cancelled since its approval in June 2017, in Appendix 1 of the report. Members were asked to note that there had been a number of changes to the Plan as a result of the introduction of the new Financial and Payroll systems.


Members were asked to note the progress with the implementation of high level recommendations made during 2017/18 – Appendix 2 of the report. The response rate from Customer Satisfaction Surveys had continued to rise this year.  Work has concluded to re-procure the Staffordshire External Support Contract.  The Council will also use the NHS support contract in addition when procuring external support to deliver the annual plan. 


With reference to the table on p50 of the report, there were no limited assurance opinion reports to report to Members since their last meeting.  Details of external clients were given and the in-house team continues to deliver the Internal Audit function including the management of the existing in-house team for South Staffordshire Council. 


Appendix 2 of the report detailed a number of high level recommendations that had not been implemented by the agreed date.  Managers were actively pursued until a response was received.  Following previous involvement of the Committee, arrangements were more robust.


No questions were asked. 


RESOLVED: The report was noted.


National Fraud Initiative (NFI) 2016/17 - Update pdf icon PDF 359 KB

Report of the Director of Finance and Resources


Lisa Andrews, Interim Head of Audit and Financial Services outlined the progress made to date on investigating the data matches received from the Cabinet Office In January and May 2017 as part of the 2016 National Fraud Initiative.  The report outlined the data sets submitted by the Council and Appendix 1 to the report gave the amount recovered to date according to different match types.  The Council was pursuing the recovering of a further £85,766.  Any learning from this activity will be shared to prevent further problems going forward.  Further details will be given in the Internal Audit Annual Outturn Report which is scheduled to be presented to the June 2018 meeting. 


No questions were asked.


RESOLVED: The report was noted.


Audit and Standards Committee Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 278 KB


Members were asked to consider the Forward Plan.


RESOLVED: Subject to an interim External Audit Plan being added to the March agenda and some minor amendments to clarify the wording, the Plan was approved.


Exclusion of the Public

The Chairman to move:-


“That the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business which involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Local Government Act 1972 as indicated below”.




(reports in this section are exempt)



The public were excluded by virtue of paragraph(s) 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.


Exempt Minutes of the meeting held on 25 September 2017

(Exemption paragraph 3)

Additional documents:


RESOLVED: The Chairman drew Members’ attention to the response that he had received from the Leader of the Council regarding Cyber Essentials.


That the exempt minutes of the meeting held on 25 September 2017 be approved and signed by the Chairman.


RESOLVED: The exempt Minutes be approved and signed by the Chairman.