To consider the audit manager’s report.
The committee considered the audit manager’s report on internal audit activity in the fourth quarter of 2014/15, being 1 January to 5 March 2015 when the audit report was sent for publication. During that period, internal audit had completed six audits and two follow-up audits. Three of these had received limited assurance ratings from internal audit and therefore were presented to the committee for consideration.
The payroll audit in 2014/15 had received limited assurance due to some weaknesses in the control system. The auditor had recommended changes to improve the system, most of which had been accepted by the Payroll Team Leader at Capita, the council’s payroll contractor, and by the Human Resources Manager. Both officers were called to the meeting to answer the committee’s questions.
The committee expressed concern that two former payroll employees had not been removed from the list of authorised payroll system users. However, it was noted that Capita had since changed its procedures to ensure this did not happen again.
The committee noted that only one of the auditor’s recommendations had not been implemented: the introduction of a new staff overtime claim form. This would be completely shortly.
Councillors believed that this was an important service to keep under review and noted that internal audit planned a further audit in 2015/16.
Section 106 planning agreements, commuted sums, and Community Infrastructure Levy 2013/14 and 2014/15
Internal audit presented an audit report on the council’s management of Section 106 planning agreements, commuted sum payments from developers, and the Community Infrastructure Levy for the years 2013/14 and 2014/15. The Planning Policy Manager and the Planning Policy Officer attended the meeting to answer the committee’s questions.
Three of internal audit’s recommendations had yet to be implemented. While money received from developers was shown in the register of planning agreements, expenditure on the various schemes relating to each development had not been included. To link the expenditure to the register would require a partial re-write of the system software, which would take time. However, officers planned to do this work.
The auditor had recommended that a regular reconciliation of agreements recorded within the system should be undertaken with general ledger transactions to ensure income was recorded accurately. The planning officers had agreed to introduce an annual reconciliation procedure. There was also a recommendation to introduce consistent record-keeping, which had yet to be implemented.
The committee believed that improvements had been made to the management of Section 106 planning agreements and commuted sum payments, and asked that as part of the follow-up audit, checks were made that money from developments was being correctly applied to the schemes identified in the planning agreements. This would be important also when the Community Infrastructure Levy was introduced. The committee noted that this issue had been taken up by Scrutiny Committee, which received annual monitoring reports.
Temporary accommodation – second follow-up audit
The committee noted that internal audit had conducted a second follow-up audit on the temporary accommodation service to check whether its recommendations had been implemented. The audit investigations showed that three of the four recommendations had not been completed. The Head of Development and Housing and the Housing Needs Manager attended the meeting to explain why.
The committee noted that the Cabinet member for housing was due to approve the draft homelessness strategy for consultation in March 2015 following Scrutiny Committee’s consideration of the draft strategy. There would then be a four-week consultation period and the results would be reported to Cabinet, probably in June.
The officers reported that the recommendation to complete the review of all policies and procedures should be completed by the end of June 2015 and the recommendation to carry out income reconciliation should be completed by the end of March 2015.
The committee reviewed appendix 2 to the audit manager’s report that set out overdue recommendations from previous audits. The online version of this report was no longer available due to changes to the corporate software used since the fire at the Crowmarsh Gifford offices. A revised version of this report would be made available to councillors online in due course but the committee noted that this was not a high corporate priority.
However, the audit manager was continuing to chase heads of service for action on overdue recommendations. All committee members would be supplied with a copy of the updated report before the next committee meeting in July. This would allow the committee to review the overdue recommendations list and summon a head of service to the next committee meeting for questioning.
The audit manager also agreed to amend the format of the summary report of the overdue recommendations by adding the number of audits conducted. The committee welcomed the overdue recommendations report, as it would provide a useful tool to monitor implementation of audit recommendations.
RESOLVED: to note the internal audit activity report for the fourth quarter 2014/15.