Agenda and minutes

Venue: Online meeting only

Contact: Caroline Marshall 

Link: Watch this meeting live on the Herefordshire Council Youtube channel

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To receive apologies for absence.


There were no apologies for absence.


Named substitutes (if any)

To receive details any details of members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a member of the committee.


There were no named substitutes.


Declarations of interest

To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.


There were no declarations of interests.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 249 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 25 September 2020.

Additional documents:




That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 September 2020 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the chairperson.


Questions from members of the public

To receive questions from members of the public.  


Deadline for receipt of questions is 5.00 pm on 8 October 2020 (3 clear working days from date of meeting).


Questions must be submitted to Questions sent to any other address may not be accepted.


Accepted questions and the response to them will be published as a supplement to the agenda papers prior to the meeting. Further information and guidance is available at



There were no questions from members of the public.


Questions from councillors

To receive any questions from councillors.  


Deadline for receipt of questions is 5.00 pm on 8 October 2020 (3 clear working days from date of meeting).


Accepted questions and answers will be published as a supplement prior to the meeting. 



There were no questions from councillors.


Proposed revised internal audit plan 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 290 KB

To be assured that the level and range of activity within the proposed revised annual internal audit plan is sufficient to provide assurance over the council’s corporate governance arrangements and provides appropriate coverage of key business activities, associated risks and risk management processes.


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South West Audit Partnership presented the report and highlighted that since the internal audit plan 2020/21 had been approved by the committee there had been changes due to Covid-19.    Since the revised plan had been developed, there had been four further requests for additional reports and any changes to the plan will reported to the committee.  


During discussion of the item, the following points were raised:


·         There are a number of high priority internal audits due to commence throughout the financial year.

·         The plan will be kept under continual review and SWAP will try to maintain the higher priority audits in the plan.

·         There may be additional work due to Covid-19 and some audits will need to be deferred to next year.   

·         Details of timeframes should be included in the plan so that the committee could see if there was any slippage.  

·         Details of which quarters the internal audits were due to commence would be included in the progress report.

·         Audits which are replaced with additional work due to Covid-19 will provide details of the assurance given and that information feeds into the assurance statement at the end of the year.  

·         The prevention of fraud work was continuing.

·         The counter-fraud officer and team were continuing to work proactively with other agencies and the internals in this area.  

·         It was noted that the percentage of deferred audits was 35% which represented a 55% deferral rate for the children and families and adult and communities directorates.  

·         It was agreed that the chief finance officer would consider purchasing additional internal audit days as by the end of the year the percentage of deferred audits could be greater.

·         It was acknowledged that there would be reduced internal audit coverage in some areas but the additional Covid-19 audits may impact on those areas.    It was widely expected that nationally Covid-19 would impact on audit work.  

·         Further funding from the government was due to be announced on 19 October 2020.

·         The number of days purchased from SWAP was broadly comparable to other councils.


Cllr Yolande Watson joined the meeting at 11.06 am.



·         Funding had been received from the government in two streams.   The largest amount was in the form of unfenced funding and details were reported to Cabinet.   Funding was also received via a ring fenced grant to cover costs.   It was confirmed that there was sufficient funding to cover the additional audits.

·         It was noted that the budget was set for the core audit work and that decisions to undertake audits were based on need or a risk assessment.

·         It was confirmed that cost to the council of Covid-19 was being tracked as there would need to be an evaluation of the costs to the council and taxpayer.  It was further noted that there were would a lessons learnt exercise as well.

·         The Brexit preparedness internal audit planning work was due to commence shortly and it was confirmed that it should be completed before 31 December 2020.   The solicitor to the council confirmed that a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


Energy from Waste Loan Update pdf icon PDF 140 KB

To provide assurance to the audit and governance committee on the current status of the energy from waste loan arrangement to enable the committee to fulfil its delegated functions.


Additional documents:


The chief finance officer presented the report and reported that the loan arrangements appeared to be working well. 


The committee expressed a slight concern about the date of the assurance statement [December 2019] and the consultant’s letter [Filcher] was dated 30 September 2019.   It was noted that Mercia were to provide an assurance statement twice a year and given Covid-19 it would be prudent to obtain a more up to date consultant’s letter.   The chief finance officer confirmed that there was an ongoing dialogue with the provider and there were no issues.  It was further confirmed that there were more up to date reports and that they would be circulated to committee members. 


It was noted that the ratio calculation had not been included this year and the committee would like to see this in future but with an explanation of what it meant. 


A risk had been added to the risk register and the committee noted that they did not understand the risk and how it impacted on the details they were meant to be looking at. 


Councillor Bob Matthews moved the report which was seconded by Councillor Christy Bolderson. 





(a)          the risks to the council, as lender, were confirmed as being reasonable and appropriate having regard to the risks typically assumed by long term senior funders to waste projects in the United Kingdom and best banking practice; and


(b)          arrangements for the administration of the loan were reviewed and confirmed as satisfactory.




To review and agree changes to the council's whistleblowing policyConfidential reporting code (Whistleblowing) pdf icon PDF 146 KB

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The solicitor to the council presented the report and highlighted that:


·         There had been work with trade unions;

·         The amended policy took into account the comments of the committee members expressed at their meeting on 16 June 2020

·         There was now a check and balance with regard to anonymity and whistleblowing was reported to an independent organisation.


The committee expressed their thanks for the work which had been undertaken.    The whistleblowing policy was a way in which any organisation could learn. 


Following a query from a member of the committee, it was explained that if whistleblowing in schools related to uncomfortable or illegal matters then it would be a matter for the governing body.   If it related to safeguarding procedures, then it should be referred to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and if it related to a safeguarding issue then it should be referred to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).    The only time where this may not be the case would be if it was one of the council’s staff who whistle blew. 


It was confirmed that the whistleblowing policy could be used by councillors. 


Once the policy was approved, then the revised policy would be communicated to all staff and members. 





Following recommendations from the working group the policy as attached at appendix 1 be approved.



Work programme update pdf icon PDF 209 KB

To provide an update on the work programme for the committee.

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It was noted that the anti-fraud and corruption strategy update had been moved to the committee meeting due to be held in January 2020.


The solicitor to the council reported that the review of the arrangements for dealing with code of conduct complaints was about to start with the independent persons for standards and asked if the committee wished to form a working group in order to undertake this work.   It was agreed that the revised arrangements would be circulated to committee members for them to provide input but that a working group would not be formed.  The revised arrangements would be scheduled for the January 2020 committee meeting.




That subject to the amendment noted, the updated work programme be agreed.


External audit update - Redmond Review pdf icon PDF 223 KB

To share with the committee the findings of the national Redmond Review and what expected impact this is expected to have on the future work of the committee.


Additional documents:


Grant Thornton went through the presentation included within the agenda pack (pages 67 to 94).


It was noted that changes may not occur for some way as it would be up to the government to take the recommendations forward.  Grant Thornton and the chief finance officer were in favour of the recommendations. 


It was noted that there was already a provision in the Constitution for an independent person to be appointed to the committee.


It was noted that there would be future consideration of an all members’ briefing on the statement of the accounts.  




the Committee noted Grant Thornton’s presentation, attached at appendix 1, on the initial Sir Tony Redmond Independent Review of Local Audit and considered the impact on the future role and reporting of the committee.