To consider the audit manager’s report.
The committee considered the audit manager’s report on internal audit activity during the first quarter 2014/15. This summarised the outcomes of recent audit activity. Seven audits had been completed during the quarter, together with six follow-up audits.
Temporary accommodation 2014/15
The committee considered the audit report on temporary housing accommodation, which had been given limited assurance by internal audit. The committee questioned the service manager on progress with the redevelopment of the Harcourt Way site in Abingdon, which through the Old Gaol redevelopment agreement had been allocated as a site for new temporary accommodation. The officers agreed to refer this question to the council’s strategic management board. The committee also asked when the homelessness strategy would be reviewed; the officers reported that this was due to occur in the autumn. In response to a question on the condition of properties in Grove Street, Wantage, the committee noted that the condition of these properties was being reviewed along with the action required to bring them up to habitable standard. The council was recruiting to the post of head of housing. The committee believed it was important to fill this vacancy to tackle the issues identified in the report and the questions raised by the committee. Councillors believed that an action plan was needed to address these issues. The committee noted that temporary accommodation would be subject to a follow-up audit in the next three months. The chairman asked that the follow-up audit report was presented to the committee at its meeting in September.
The Beacon, Wantage 2013/14
Councillors St John Dickson and Julia Reynolds both made statements that they were members of Wantage Town Council which was a user of The Beacon. However, as they had no disclosable pecuniary interest in the item they remained in the meeting.
The committee considered the audit report on The Beacon, Wantage (formerly Wantage Civic Hall) in 2013/14. This had been given limited assurance by internal audit. The committee questioned the nature of the use agreement with Wantage Town Council, noting that this was a historical arrangement that resulted in the council incurring costs. The committee noted that the officers were renegotiating the agreement with the town council. The committee noted that the audit report had concentrated on system weaknesses and many of the recommendations were now embedded.
Outstanding recommendations from past audit reports
The committee also considered a summary of outstanding recommendations from all internal audit reports over the past four years. A schedule setting these out was made available at the meeting and would become a regular part of the internal audit activity report. If it became apparent that a particular service was not implementing these recommendations, the committee could call the head of service to attend the next meeting to explain why. The committee welcomed this, noting that in recent months the number of outstanding recommendations had reduced significantly, and only three outstanding recommendations fell within internal audit’s high risk category. To test the system, the committee called for the head of service to the next committee meeting to answer questions on outstanding actions from the 2011/12 audits on election payments and Building Control.
The committee noted that in future, the relevant the head of service’s title should appear against outstanding recommendations in the schedule. Councillors also asked that there should be a note to indicate the number of outstanding recommendations by service area.
(a) note the internal audit activity report for the first quarter 2014/15; and
(b) to call the head of service to the next committee meeting to answer questions on outstanding actions from the following audits:
· Election payments 2011/12
· Building Control 2011/12