The committee considered report 89/10 of the head of finance. This summarised the outcome of recent internal audit activity. Since the committee’s last meeting, internal audit had finished six audits, four of which had a limited assurance rating. In addition, internal audit had completed an investigation into a breach of security and two follow-up reports, one of which had initially received limited assurance. The committee discussed the audits with limited assurance and the investigation also.
Handling postal cash and cheques 2010/11
The first audit looked at the procedures around handling cash and cheques received by post. Internal audit was satisfied that staff opened post securely, but in some service areas, only one officer carried this out. Some councillors expressed concern at this, believing that the council’s reputation could be at risk. The section 151 officer reported that he had taken the decision to advise service areas that whenever possible there should be two officers opening post to reduce the risk of fraud, but where this was not possible, one officer was acceptable if they maintained records to internal audit’s satisfaction. The committee asked that this procedure was reviewed, having regard to the total number of hours involved in this task, and the average daily total value of the cash and cheques received. The committee asked that at the next meeting, the section 151 officer reported on the outcome of this review.
The committee questioned the timescale for the service review but noted that the timing would not affect the need to respond to internal audit’s recommendations. The officers would tackle internal audit’s key concerns immediately.
Housing and Council Tax benefits
In answer to a question, the officers reported on the procedure for dealing with benefits’ overpayments and gave examples of recovery action. The Ridgeway Shared Services Partnership closely monitored this each month.
SOLL leisure contract
The committee noted that the council’s contractor SOLL ran Tilsley Park in Abingdon, and the Faringdon and Wantage Leisure Centres. Councillors expressed concerns at the procedures for managing cash and cheques at these facilities but noted that it was the contractor’s responsibility to account for these and the contractor was responsible for any losses. Councillors also expressed concern at the lack of knowledge of some staff at the facilities to advise the public correctly about the comments and complaints procedure. The committee asked that the contractor reminded its entire staff about the procedure.
Department for Work and Pensions: security breach of customer information
The committee noted the outcome of the investigation into a security breach and praised the council’s staff and Capita for the way this had been resolved and their handling of the case.
(a) To note the report; and
(b) that at the next committee meeting, the section 151 officer reports on the outcome of his review of security for handling cheques and cash received by post.