Agenda item

Progress report on 2018/19 internal audit plan

To review the progress of internal audit work and any key internal control issues arising from work recently completed.


The head of internal audit presented the progress report on the 2018/19 internal audit plan was presented.  


The head of internal audit reported that a meeting with the chief finance officer had taken place to discuss the timing of the internal audit of the South Wye Transport Package.      The audit would be undertaken in quarter 1 of the 2019/20 internal audit plan.   


Following a query from a member of the committee, it was confirmed that SWAP would be looking at the Southern Link Road capital programme as part of the review of the Blue School House recommendations which was due to be reported to the March 2019 committee meeting.   This would check whether the recommendations from Blue School House were being implemented in other capital projects. 


The head of internal audit reported that since the last progress report to the committee:


·                16 audits had been completed

·                2 were in draft

·                11 audits were in progress

·                There were 2 audits with partial assurance which were SEN transport and Health and Safety. 

·                No significant high corporate risk had been identified. 

·                There had been 2 additions to the audit plan which were honorarium, market forces and standby and on call allowances and treasury management.   

·                The mandatory training audit had been moved to 2019/20.

·                The local population forecast using for future planning such as house building requirement had been removed from the audit plan


In response to queries raised by members of the committee in connection with the health and safety audit, the head of HR and organisational development confirmed the following:


·                There are a low number of accidents reported but it was believed there was under reporting so action was being taken to raise the profile of this area.

·                A new health and safety manager would be starting at the beginning of February. 

·                Risk assessments in high risk areas are completed and are done well. 

·                That the display screen equipment (DSE) assessment was covered as part of the induction and mandatory training.    It was noted that it was the responsibility of the employee.  

·                There are no health and safety champions but that this was a good idea so it would be looked into. 

·                There were processes in place to ensure that staff have the security required to work safely.


Following a request from a member of the committee, it was confirmed that internal audit would be starting work in February to look at the processes used by the children’s and families directorate following the two recent high court cases.


The head of internal audit confirmed that data quality is normally good and that SWAP are always provided with the data requested.   When checking a key performance indicator (KPI), the methodology used for the calculation is requested and if SWAP cannot resolve the calculation, then they will make a recommendation to the service. 


With regard to the treasury management internal audit which had been added to the audit plan, it was confirmed that in comparison to other councils, Herefordshire is doing well.  


In response to queries raised by members of the committee in connection with the SEN transport audit, the head of transportation and access services confirmed: 


·                There was now a policy owner.  Following discussions with the children and families directorate, it had been agreed that the transport team within the economy and place directorate would take over ownership of the policy.  

·                The policy was not out of date and was available on the council’s website.

·                A passenger transport board has been established drawing together senior officers from the client directorates and chaired by the head of transportation and access to help coordinate policy review and provide oversight in respect of service issues. This board will be monitoring requests for transport which were outside of the guidance provided to officers.

·                The complaints process has been reviewed and the government’s guidance on a 2 stage dispute escalation process has been adopted.  If an issue cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the requester by senior officers within the passenger transport team (Stage 1), they can submit an appeal to an independent officer panel (Stage 2). Complainants not satisfied after Stage 2 may refer their complaint to Local Government Ombudsman.

·                The length of journeys for children with SEN are monitored and the council aim to follow national guidelines - 45 minutes for primary school aged children and 75 minutes for secondary school aged children.  This can be challenging due to the limited number of specialist schools in the county which are concentrated in Hereford and the size of the county.

·                Transport operators and the council’s in house staff who provide the transport services have to undertake training and are subject to DBS checks. Specialist training may also be required depending on the specific conditions of individual riders. In these circumstances the council agrees appropriate controls with parents/carers and their medical advisors.

·                The passenger transport board will be looking at the potential future demand for special transport to help inform budgeting decisions. Information which will help include the number of education, health and care (EHC) plans, the number of looked after children (LAC) and their trends and wider demographic data.

·                It was noted that new demands for special transport can be requested on a daily basis due to changes in the circumstances of individual children.    

A member of the committee expressed concern that there had a policy without an owner and requested assurance that there were no other policies without owners.   The directorate services team leader agreed to work with the performance leads in the other directorates to check that there were policy owners for all policies.  


The chief finance officer agreed to send a copy of the joint use agreement: Ledbury Rugby Club audit to a member of the committee. 




That the report be noted.


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