A report of the Strategic Director of Finance, Governance and Support was presented to provide an update on delivery of the Council's Improvement Plan (CIP) since progress was last reported to Executive in December 2016.
As previously reported to the Committee, the CIP contained actions split across several themes including: financial performance reporting, financial planning, performance management, risk management, decision making, asset management, Change Programme, Programme and Project Management, Capital Programme monitoring and embedding business change.
To ensure effective oversight of improvement actions, detailed delivery plans had been developed for each theme within the updated CIP. The submitted report provided progress reports by exception and the status of each section was reflected in the updated CIP which was attached to the submitted report at Appendix 1.
The Corporate Affairs and Audit Committee had received regular reports on delivery of the CIP and following completion of a year-end report to Executive on progress, future progress would be reported in the Annual Governance Statement. Stand-alone reports might be brought forward by exception if there were concerns about delivery of the small number of remaining actions.
The Council was in the process of agreeing dates for a follow up visit from the Local Government Association team that undertook the peer review of the Council's governance processes twelve months ago. The purpose of the follow up visit was to provide independent peer reviews on progress that had been made to improve governance since the first review. This visit was likely to take place in April 2017.
Internal Audit had been involved in the CIP process to ensure they were able to sign off actions as complete where they originated from an internal audit report. The Internal Audit Work Programme for 2016/2017 included audit support to provide assurance that the actions within the CIP were being implemented successfully.
In order to effectively influence the delivery of the actions, Internal Audit had conducted regular reviews on the status of the CIP in liaison with Deloitte and council staff and had contributed to each quarterly report produced on the CIP setting out its views on delivery to date. In addition, Internal Audit had produced a series of audits based upon some key CIP themes and strong assurance had been provided on each occasion, further demonstrating the level of progress made by the Council in these related areas. The assurance given by the internal auditors to date reflected the progress made by the Council to develop its governance framework. At this stage, it did not make an assessment as to the level of actual compliance with that framework by officers and Members across the organisation.
Internal Audit concurred with Deloitte's judgements and was satisfied with both the Council's commitment to the CIP and of processes developed for setting and monitoring its content, and with reporting arrangements. Satisfactory evidence had been provided in relation to each of the completed areas to support the progress made to date, and whilst there were a few areas still to be fully completed, these would be the subject of further examination in due course. The next stage would be for further internal audit testing to be undertaken as part of the 2017/2018 Audit Plan programme which would confirm the success of the frameworks and evaluate whether actions had become fully embedded and that outcomes achieved the associated purpose.
Members acknowledged the actions that had been taken by Officers and the progress made with CIP and highlighted in particular the review of the Council's asset disposal process. It was suggested that it would be useful for the Committee to receive a regular update on any asset sales that were made based on social value rather than the highest price.
It was also noted that the Scorecard for quarter 2 2016/2017 showed a capital underspend position of £14.3m (29.4%). However, it was clarified that more recent draft figures suggested that the underspend would ultimately be in the region of 5% and this position would be confirmed by Executive on 21 February 2017. Whilst there had been some slippage with projects early in the year, they had now been brought back on track.
In response to a query in relation to embedding arrangements for the ongoing monitoring of compliance with the Council's new Risk Management Framework, it was confirmed that there had been two training sessions for Elected Members and training had also been provided for Project Managers.
AGREED as follows that the following actions were noted:
1. Progress against the CIP to date.
2. Findings from Deloitte's Reviews.
3. The updated Council Improvement Plan.
4. The planned follow up visit by the Local Government Association Peer Review Team.
5. The information provided.
6. The Corporate Affairs and Audit Committee would receive a regular update on any asset sales that were made based on social value.