Agenda and minutes

Venue: Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE

Contact: Ben Baugh, Democratic Services Officer 

Link: Watch this meeting on the Herefordshire Council YouTube channel

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence had been received from Councillors Christy Bolderson and Peter Jinman.


Named substitutes

To receive details of any councillor 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 interest in respect of items on the agenda.


No declarations of interest were made.

[Note: For the efficient transaction of business, the agenda items ‘Questions from members of the public’ and ‘Questions from councillors’ were taken before the agenda item ‘Minutes’ but the original agenda order has been retained in these minutes for ease of reference.]


Minutes pdf icon PDF 231 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 21 November 2022.  The updated action log for the committee is also attached.

Additional documents:


The committee received and agreed the minutes of the previous meeting.


The action log for the committee was discussed, this is reflected in the updated action log.




That the minutes of the meeting held on 21 November 2022 be confirmed as a correct record and be signed by the Chairperson.


Questions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 194 KB

To receive any questions from members of the public.


The questions received and the responses provided, together with the supplementary questions put at the meeting and the subsequent written responses, are attached as appendix 1 to these minutes.


Questions from councillors

To receive any questions from councillors.


No questions had been received from councillors.


Progress report on internal audit activity pdf icon PDF 202 KB

To update members on the progress of internal audit work and to bring to their attention any key internal control issues arising from work recently completed.  To enable the committee to monitor performance of the internal audit team against the approved plan.  To assure the committee that action is being taken on risk related issues identified by internal audit.

Additional documents:


It was noted that, in addition to the papers in the main agenda pack, a supplement had been published which updated the committee on progress with the key findings and agreed actions in relation to the ‘Public Health Grant Process: Final Report – November 2022’.


The Assistant Director for South West Audit Partnership (SWAP) presented the report on internal audit activity for quarter 3 2022, with attention drawn to the following:


i.             28 audits were complete, 2 were in draft and 15 were in progress; 11 were planned for quarter 4.  It was noted that there was work continuing on grant certifications and other activity but assurance work had increased over the second half of the year, with 78% of assignments providing an assurance opinion.  It was reported that internal audit work was on track to deliver the programme and to provide an annual opinion.


ii.            Internal audit was aligned to corporate risks but could not cover every aspect.


iii.          The planning process for 2022/23 had commenced and the pipeline would be reviewed, with engagement with the corporate leadership team.


iv.          There were no high corporate risks identified in the quarter.


v.           The table of audits by status illustrated the current position.


vi.          The indicative opinion was of reasonable assurance, with a sound system of governance, risk management and control in place.


vii.         There was limited assurance opinion in relation to ‘Public Health Grant Process: Final Report – November 2022’ and the five Priority 2 and five Priority 3 findings were outlined.


The Director of Public Health provided a summary of the purpose and conditions of the public health ring-fenced grant allocated to the council by the government; this amounted to £9.7m per annum currently.


The committee discussed the report, the principal points included:


1.           A committee member commented on the need for robust monitoring of funding which was passed to third parties to deliver public health services.


2.           In response to a concern expressed by the Chairperson about the public health grant process findings, the Director of Resources and Assurance commented that this was not where the council wanted to be, thanked SWAP for the work undertaken to highlight these matters, noted that there was a clear plan to address the shortcomings, and anticipated that the issue would be referenced in the Annual Governance Statement.


3.           In response to a question from the Chairperson, the Director of Resources and Assurance advised that concerns had not been raised by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) but there was an ongoing dialogue to ensure that public health outcomes were achieved; adding that the council spent more on public health than was received in government grant.


The Chairperson, on behalf of the committee, hoped that the DHSC would be reassured by the fact that internal audit work had been carried out and that areas for improvement had been identified.


4.           In response to questions from the Vice-Chairperson, the Director of Public Health explained the intention to revisit the agreements with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66.


Corporate Risk Register pdf icon PDF 362 KB

To consider the status of the council’s corporate risk register in order to monitor the effectiveness of risk management within the performance management framework.

Additional documents:


The Head of Corporate Performance introduced this item on the status of the council’s corporate risk register and advised that a report was being prepared on strategic risks for consideration at the next committee meeting.


The committee discussed the report, the principal points included:


1.      Responding to an observation that some risks appeared to be relatively static, the Head of Corporate Performance reported that risks rated with a score of 9 or higher would be reviewed by directorate leadership teams before any escalation, and the Corporate Leadership Team had committed to review any risks that were identified for escalation to the corporate risk register.


2.      The Chairperson noted the committee’s interest in ‘identifying 1 or more risks in the directorate risk registers and undertake a deep dive to provide assurance that the risk management framework was being applied appropriately’ (action 99 refers) and said it would be helpful to understand better the risk mitigation being undertaken by the relevant directorate.  Later in the meeting, the Chairperson suggested that this activity should feature in the work programme for the coming municipal year.


3.      The Vice-Chairperson commented on the need to review the risk owner identified for risks CRR.67 to CRR.71 given that there was not an ‘Interim Service Director, Environment, Highways and Waste’ in the current organisational structure.


4.      There was a brief discussion about the movement of risks between service, directorate, and corporate risk registers.


5.      The Vice-Chairperson requested updates to risk EE.06 - Destination Hereford, given a reference to September 2022, and EE.14, given recent recruitment into the ecology team.


6.      It was suggested that consideration be given to the inclusion of the date that each risk was last revised under each reference number.


7.      In response to a question from a committee member about the effectiveness of certain bodies, such as the Health and Wellbeing Board, the Chairperson noted the remit of scrutiny committees and commented that any significant concerns may appear in directorate risks registers.  It was noted that this committee considered the adequacy of the risk management framework.  Later in the meeting, the Vice-Chairperson advised that the relevant risks registers were provided to scrutiny committee members to inform the work programming for the scrutiny committees.


8.      The Chairperson drew attention to paragraph 9 of the report (agenda page 45) and, noting that there were higher numbers of directorate risks and corporate risks in Economy and Environment, questioned whether the level of risk being allocated was perceived in the same way across the directorates.  Following a brief discussion, it was requested that an explanation be provided of how individual directorates identify and score risks in the next report.




That the report has been considered and further actions identified.




184   Further to action 99, opportunities for the committee to undertake a ‘deep dive’ into selected risks in the directorate risk registers be identified in the work programme for 2023/24.


185   Consideration be given to the inclusion of the date that each risk was last revised under  ...  view the full minutes text for item 67.


Anti-Fraud, Bribery and Corruption Annual Report pdf icon PDF 796 KB

This report is to provide a summary overview on all counter fraud activity across the Council’s services throughout the previous calendar year and to outline any progress and outcomes aligned with our anti-fraud strategy.

Additional documents:


The Head of Strategic Finance introduced the report, with attention drawn to: the counter fraud activity during the previous calendar year, including an increase in new referrals and enhancements in terms of agile and partnership working; the counter fraud team had been shortlisted for the Local Excellence Award in the Public Sector Counter Fraud Awards 2023; work had been undertaken to raise awareness internally and externally, including a refresh of content on the website (link to 'Our counter fraud service'), the provision of additional training, and promotion of the International Fraud Awareness Week; and the ‘Baseline Assessment of Maturity in relation to Fraud – December 2022’ (Appendix A, agenda page 81) reflected improvements in culture and awareness, and reporting, investigating and monitoring.


In response to questions from committee members, the Counter Fraud Manager provided an overview of the ‘Summary of Corporate Fraud case outcomes in 2022’ (paragraph 15.1, agenda page 75), noting the need to consider proportionality in any investigation and the importance of collaborative working; said that further details could be provided about the treatment of fines arising from Blue Badge fraud cases; provided an overview of the national picture and limited law enforcement resources; reported that the counter fraud function at the council had commenced in 2020 and, with increased awareness and detection, referrals were being made from a range of services; and commented that cost of living pressures may be a further factor in incidents of fraud.


It was noted that the Baseline Assessment included one key finding which was ‘assessed not to be in place / operating ineffectively – requires significant improvement’; namely, ‘The fraud risk self-assessment issued in June 2022 has not been embedded in the corporate risk management process yet. Until this is implemented, the assessment results are not being maintained and may become obsolete.’


On behalf of the committee, the Chairperson complimented the team on the quality of the report, for publishing information about counter fraud activity, and for being shortlisted for a national award.


Resolved:  That the annual fraud report has been reviewed by the committee.




187   Further details be provided about the treatment of fines arising from Blue Badge fraud cases.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 203 KB

To consider the work programme for the committee.

Additional documents:


The updated work programme for the committee was considered and the potential need for an additional meeting was noted.


Resolved:  That the updated work programme be agreed.


Date of next meeting