Issue - meetings
Draft Annual Governance Statement 2021/22
To seek the view of the committee as to whether the draft Annual Governance Statement (AGS) for 2021/22 properly reflects the internal control environment the council is operating in and the appropriateness of actions identified to improve.
The Head of Strategic Finance presented the draft Annual Governance Statement (AGS) for 2021/22. It was reported that the AGS was primarily retrospective, it would be subject to audit by the External Auditor, and the final version would be published alongside the annual Statement of Accounts.
The committee discussed the draft AGS, the principal points included:
1. A committee member made a general comment that initiatives had been identified as controls within each principle but it was not stated whether these were effective or not.
2. With attention drawn to the sentence ‘Value for money continues to be a concern of the council in the guardianship of public funds, with a focus on the Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP) contract, but could equally apply to other long term contracts that were agreed’ (agenda page 30), a committee member questioned how assurance was gained that the services that Hoople Ltd was commissioned to provide represented value for money for the council.
In response, the Head of Strategic Finance explained that: value for money arrangements would be assessed separately by the External Auditors; the position and performance of Hoople Ltd was incorporated into the council’s financial statements through the group accounts; and the company was subject to its own statutory audit.
The Director of Resources and Assurance declared an Other Registrable Interest as a non-executive director of Hoople Ltd. The Director offered to provide a briefing for committee members on the requirements for companies operating under the ‘Teckal’ exemption from public procurement.
In response to a discussion about potential mechanisms to look at how Hoople Ltd was delivering services, the Director re-iterated that Grant Thornton would provide commentary on value for money arrangements and noted that the Scrutiny Management Board had identified an item within its work programme on Hoople Ltd; scheduled for 9 January 2023, link to the work programme.
The Senior Lawyer commented on: the origins of the company as a joint venture;
the Service Level Agreement decision that was published each year; and the work being undertaken on its management and shareholding arrangements, particularly in the context of new procurement regulations.
The Chairperson suggested an action to ensure that the new membership of the Audit and Governance Committee received a briefing on Teckal arrangements and Hoople Ltd in the municipal year 2023/24.
It was considered that reference to the work being undertaken in terms of Hoople Ltd should be included in the AGS.
3. With reference made to the activities within ‘Principle B: Ensuring openness and comprehensive stakeholder engagement’ (agenda page 34), such as the Citizens Climate Assembly, a committee member questioned whether engagement had been effective and whether action was being taken as a result of the feedback.
The Chairperson suggested that it would be useful if the external consultations that had taken place during the reporting year, and the responses as a datum, could be included in the AGS.
A committee member questioned the level of engagement with staff, including the interaction between the Programme Management ... view the full minutes text for item 31