The Deputy Director of Resources presented the Annual Governance Statement 2012/2013. A copy of the Statement was attached to the submitted report. Under the 2007 CIPFA Framework for Delivering Corporate Governance in Local Government, the Council was required to review its governance arrangements, at least annually, to ensure continued compliance with best practice. The Framework adapted six core principles of good governance for the Local Government Sector and recommended that all Councils should comply with them.
The Annual Governance Statement 2012/2013 was compiled following a review by the Governance Team of the effectiveness of the Councils systems of internal control and governance arrangements. This also involved the most senior officers within services, as well as officers with specific responsibilities for Internal Audit, Risk Management and the professional conduct of officers and members.
Middlesbrough Council operated in conjunction with more than one hundred partners in a range of contractual, strategic, project and delivery arrangements. As a comparatively small town, relationships with partners were generally close and there was a well established and understood common agenda enshrined in key documents, particularly the Sustainable Community Strategy.
It was highlighted that this years Budget Consultations had been very successful in terms of engaging the public. In response to comments received some of the proposed cuts had been stopped and in other areas alternative provision had been provided.
Overall, the Corporate Governance had not changed very much from the Statement from the previous year. However in 2013/2014 it was anticipated that there would be major changes affecting governance as a result of areas including the Change Programme, the new Director of Transformation post and new management structures.
Two significant internal control issues were highlighted that had been raised in the 2011/2012 Statement and details of the actions taken during 2012/2013 to address them were given as follows:
- The Council was the victim of a wider scale fraud in which the perpetrator fraudulently passed themselves off as a legitimate supplier and arranged for bank payments to be redirected.
- Claims for European Regional Development Funding were not made for several quarters.
Also within the significant internal control issues section, the following areas of concern which arose during 2012/2013 had been highlighted:
- In the first week of the calendar year a control error in the Councils payroll system resulted in a significant overpayment to one member of staff.
- Internal Audit identified significant issues in the IT system used to pay the Councils in-house Foster Carers.
The Deputy Director of Resources provided a detailed explanation of the issues and the action that had been taken to resolve them and prevent any re-occurrence.
The External Auditor stated that the Governance Statement appeared to meet all the requirements however, she would be looking at it in more detail and would bring any comments back to a future meeting. It was highlighted that the Audit and Governance Committee should continue to look at its effectiveness in terms of receiving assurance especially in light of the Change Programme.
Members also discussed possible items for the Work Programme which included standards, training and development and monitoring of Executive decisions.
RECOMMENDED as follows that:
1. The Annual Governance Statement 2012/2013 be noted.
2. The Internal Control issues highlighted in the Annual Governance Statement 2012/2013 be noted.