Venue: George Meehan House, 294 High Road, Wood Green, N22 8YX
Contact: Philip Slawther, Principal Committee Co-ordinator
Note: To watch, click the link on the agenda frontsheet
FILMING AT MEETINGS
Please note that this meeting may be filmed or recorded by the Council for live or subsequent broadcast via the Council’s internet site or by anyone attending the meeting using any communication method. Although we ask members of the public recording, filming or reporting on the meeting not to include the public seating areas, members of the public attending the meeting should be aware that we cannot guarantee that they will not be filmed or recorded by others attending the meeting. Members of the public participating in the meeting (e.g. making deputations, asking questions, making oral protests) should be aware that they are likely to be filmed, recorded or reported on.
By entering the meeting room and using the public seating area, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings.
The chair of the meeting has the discretion to terminate or suspend filming or recording, if in his or her opinion continuation of the filming, recording or reporting would disrupt or prejudice the proceedings, infringe the rights of any individual or may lead to the breach of a legal obligation by the Council.
The Chair referred Members present to agenda Item 1 as shown on the agenda in respect of filming at this meeting, and Members noted the information contained therein.
Apologies for Absence and Substitutions (if any)
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors: Demir, Barnes, M Blake and Tabois.
[Clerk’s Note - Cllr M Blake had provided apologies for Adults & Health Scrutiny Panel and not this meeting and joined the meeting ‘in person’ at 7.45pm.]
Declarations of Interest
A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a prejudicial interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered:
(i) must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent, and
(ii) may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and must withdraw from the meeting room.
A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Register of Members’ Interests or the subject of a pending notification must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.
Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal interests and prejudicial interests are defined at Paragraphs 5-7 and Appendix A of the Members’ Code of Conduct.
There were no declarations of interest put forward.
The Chair will consider the admission of any late items of urgent business. (late items will be considered under the agenda items where they appear. New items will be dealt with at item 10)
There were no items of urgent business.
Deputations / Petitions / Presentations / Questions
To consider any requests received in accordance with Part 4, section B, Paragraph 29 of the Council’s Constitution.
There were no deputations, petitions or questions put forward.
To consider and agree the minutes of the meeting held on 15 July 2021.
The following issues were raised under matters arising from the minutes and responded to.
With regards to the renaming Black Boy Lane and the number of issues raised previously by the Committee in March , it was the intention to bring a report on these issues to the November meeting of the Corporate Committee.
An update was provided on the actions undertaken since the last meeting in July and information circulated to Committee Members.
Referring to the action point on the Alexandra House purchase, the Chair updated the Committee on a further potential audit of the purchase of Alex House following discussions at the March and July meetings of the Committee.
The Chair had since read the Mazars report which covered the period from November 2018 when Workspace approached the Council to ask if the Council would be interested in purchasing the building , through to May 2019 when Workspace were informed that the Council would not be purchasing the building. The Chair had also had access to the Cabinet papers from Feb 2020 when the decision was taken to purchase the building. Having read the reports, the Chair felt it was important to take steps to respond to outstanding concerns on how the decisions were made. He set out the Committee’s key role in addressing these concerns and referred to the Committee’s terms of reference.
Further following up this action, the Chair advised that there would be an exempt part to the November Committee meeting to consider the Mazars Audit report on the circumstances around the workspace approach to the Council, and to consider the exempt part of the Cabinet report on which the decision was based.
The Deputy Monitoring Officer advised that Legal advice would be given to former Cabinet Members, who were now members of the Corporate Committee, on their participation, once the shape of the exempt meeting was better known in the coming weeks.
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on the 15th of July 2021.
The Council’s Chief Accountant, updated the Committee on the Council’s Draft Statement of Accounts 2020/21 and the provisional plan for the audit of the Statement of Accounts for 2020/21 (SOA).
The Committee were reminded that the final accounts could not be signed off until audited by the external auditor. The draft Statement of Accounts were currently subject to a period of public inspection which was due to end on the 10th of September.
The accounts were required to be audited by the 13th of September but given the current circumstances, post pandemic and only recent sign off of the Statement of Accounts for 2019 /2020 , the Committee were informed by the external auditors that this timescale was not realistic and achievable.
The 2020/21 draft statement of accounts did highlight that the Council performances and achievements during this year were not significantly different to the previous financial year’s performance.
The external auditor continued to outline the external audit process of the Council’s financial accounts and timelines for completion. They were aiming to be on site by the first week in October and would combine interim testing process with the final accounts audit in the next three months, culminating in a final report to Committee by January 2022.
The external auditor highlighted, as set out in the report, how the use of resources had changed. This was due to the new Code of Audit Practice which became effective from the first of April 2020 for the 2020/ 21 financial year.
The changes to the Annual Audit reporting and scope of work were further outlined. The Committee noted that there would be a rebadging and adjustment to the criteria to be considered. This would include the external auditor considering how the Council could seek to improve value for money activities. Also, the way in which the external auditor[ BDO ]reports to the Council would be different to previous years. Instead of providing a qualification or non -qualification conclusion, there would now be a lengthy annual auditor report. This would replace the Annual Audit letter and would be detailed reporting to cover all the criteria considered in the Audit, highlighting any issues considered. This would allow the Auditor to identify areas of weakness and set this out to the local Authority, allowing constructive recommendations from the external auditor. The Committee would be familiarised with this new way of reporting in the lead up reports, and prior to the final report .The Committee noted that due to the market conditions and pandemic , this fuller report would likely follow the January deadline.
The external auditor had been made aware of the pre -election period starting in March 2022 and would work towards issuing their report prior to this period.
In response to questions from Councillors Ibrahim, Emery, the following information was provided:
· With regards to the Comprehensive Income and Expenditure Statements on pages 39 and 40 of the agenda pack and differences in the HRA calculation, the Assistant Director for Finance advised that the ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
The Head of Audit introduced the report, as set out in the agenda pack, highlighting that a lot of the work, for the last financial year , was finalised in the first quarter of this financial year,
In summary for all audits completed, four were assigned to substantial assurance, six were assigned to adequate assurance, and four for limited assurance. The Head of Audit continued to outline the 4 services that received the limited assurance: Health and Safety, Brokerage , IT disaster recovery and management of triage related arrangements for safeguarding. In addition, there were audits completed in four schools, with three of the schools receiving adequate assurance and one limited assurance. Fuller details on the findings of these reviews were already provided in the July report to Corporate Committee.
In response to a question from Cllr Ejiofor, schools would be audited once every four years as a minimum with some schools audited more frequently. These would likely be schools that may been assigned limited assurance or nil assurance.
The Head of Audit reported that the number of schools getting limited or nil assurance had decreased in the last financial year. Around three years ago, there had been an intensive programme of work from the Local Authority and audit team to help schools understand the requirements of good financial management. This guidance was continuing with meetings being held with headteachers, governors and business managers on a 6 monthly basis to continually set out the Council’s expectations on financial management and use of public funds.
The Head of Audit set out the findings of the limited assurance audits and the committee noted the following:
With regards to the health and safety findings, where people were trained on health and safety , there needed to be accurate record of training and plan had been put in place to change the system with a new system expected to be implemented in December/ January. There was a good risk assessment template , however guidance was needed on how to better use the risk assessment and ensure regular review of the assessment to ensure nay key issues arising were followed up and implemented. The third area considered on health and safety was that there were a few health and safety policies in place to drive the work of the health and safety team and these needed to be refreshed.
The Brokerage team assisted both Children’s Services and Adults Services with care placements. With regards to Adults service area, the risks identified related to: placement policy procedures, the need to ensure purchase orders were raised properly at the start of the assignments, the need to retain evidence for approved placements by the manager, demonstrate cost of the placement and offer an evaluation, of how, that compared with other placements. The Committee also noted that for Children’s service placements there was a need to have in place: the policy and procedure guidance retention of documentation, a system of quality assurance so that when placement was made ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
The attached report was for information only and the Committee were asked to note that the outlined activities were in line with the Treasury Management strategy which was approved by full Council in March 2021.
The Chair referred to paragraph 6.9 of the main report, the figure for borrowing under 12 months the figure was 14.67% and on the table at 6.11, the short-term borrowing figure was 13%. He queried why these figures were slightly different? It was explained that the figures at paragraph 6.11 were related to short-term borrowing which is under a year and these funds tended to be borrowed from the inter local authorities’ market and the limit was 30%. However, in the maturity structure this included both the short-term borrowing as well as any of the long-term borrowing that the Council had taken out in previous years. Therefore, the 1.67 figure related to instalment loans that would mature this year.
To note the Treasury Management activity undertaken during the three months to 30 June 2020 and the performance achieved which was attached as Appendix 1 to this report.
To note that all treasury activities were undertaken in line with the approved Treasury Management Strategy.
Reason for Decision
Other options considered
Any other business of an urgent nature
To consider any items admitted at item 4 above.
Date of Next Meeting
16 November 2021
16th of November 2021