Agenda and minutes

Standards and Audit Committee
Thursday, 27th September, 2018 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services Officer  Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

12.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 65 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Standards and Audit Committeemeeting held on 19 July 2018.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the 19 July 2018 meeting were approved as a true and correct record.

13.

Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

14.

Declaration of Interests

Minutes:

There were no declarations of Interest.

15.

Internal Audit Progress Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited the Officer Gary Clifford, Chief Internal Auditor, to introduce the report. The Officer stated that of the Audits completed in period; all outcomes had been either green or amber-green. The Officer then stated that Audits in progress were detailed on page 16 of the Agenda and summarised that there had been some learning from a complaint in relation to Housing, and that the audit of the Troubled Families Service were proving to be resource intensive.

 

Councillor Gerrish asked what “amber-green” was, as this had not previously been part of the Red, Amber, Green (RAG) rating system. The Officer clarified that it had been pointed out that a service could be rated amber even if it was almost red or almost green, and therefore “amber-green or amber-red” had been added to indicate how close the service was to falling into another rating.

 

Councillor Gerrish asked what had progressed in terms of developing the Council’s Debt Recovery approach. The Officer stated that due to some changes in management this had not yet been advanced however new managers were in place and this was being picked up.

 

Councillor Johnson stated that as this crossed into his Portfolio he was aware of the challenges but was confident these were being addressed now the new manager was in post.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Standards and Audit Committee considered the reports issued and the work being carried out by Internal Audit in relation to the 2018/19 audit plan.

16.

Counter Fraud & Investigation Quarterly Update pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited the Officer David Kleinberg, Assistant Director for Fraud and Investigations, to present the report. The Officer provided a short overview of the report and highlighted the positive news that the Fraud Team had been invited to speak at a national conference in recognition of their work. The Officer went on to explain that the work programme for the year was on page 27, and that the team was fully resourced and on target to deliver.

 

The Chair thanked Officers for the report. There were no questions.

 

RESOLVED:

 

The Standards and Audit Committee noted the performance of the Counter Fraud and Investigation Department.

17.

Thurrock Annual Audit Letter 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Officer Jonathan Wilson, Assistant Director for Finance, introduced this item. It was noted the report from Ernst and Young largely summarises the work presented at the previous meeting as part of the Audit Results Report. In terms of the fee only one charge was added above the initial quote, which had been for a whistleblowing investigation. The additional charge was for £3,120.

 

The Officer further stated that changes to the Code for 2019/20 would effectively mean all leases will be accounted for as Financial Leases.  The impact on the Council is not expected to be significant and would be reflected in the 2019/20 financial statements.

 

RESOLVED:

 

The Standards and Audit Committee considered and noted the report of Thurrock’s External Auditors.

18.

Annual Access to Records Report 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 160 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair asked the Officer Lee Henley, Strategic Lead for Information Management, to introduce the report. The Officer explained that the report covered Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests and Subject Access Requests (SAR).The Officer went on to state that FOI volumes remained comparable to the previous year, with an increase of just 10 in this period. The Officer stated 96% of these had been responded to in timeframe which was down 1% on the previous year, and that 293 had been rejected.

 

The Officer stated SAR performance had remained the same however volumes had decreased.

 

Councillor Gerrish asked if there had been any impact from the publicity around Rights of Access. The Officer responded that this had been the case, and most significantly in that the Council is no longer able to charge for providing this service.

 

RESOLVED:

 

The Standards and Audit Committee noted the statistics for the year 2017/18.

19.

Annual Complaints & Enquiries Report April 2017 to March 2018 pdf icon PDF 142 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair again invited the Officer Lee Henley, Strategic Lead for Information Management, to introduce the report. The Officer provided a brief summary of the report highlighting that complaint volumes had reduced significantly, performance had dipped by 7% and the percentage of upheld complaints had increased upon last year. The Officer then stated that for Members Enquiries 94% had been responded to in timeframe and that there had been room for improvement in responding to MP and MEP Enquiries, where performance had hit 77%.

 

The Chair asked why there had been such a dip in performance. The Officer stated that there was a significant volume of activities being undertaken in terms of Complaints, Enquiries, SAR’s and FOI’s; and that this was impacting officer capacity.

 

Councillor Gerrish queried the lifecycle of a complaint, and where specifically in the cycle was the delay occurring. The Officer stated that a number of factors had caused apparent delays, including a reduction in the timeframe and the volume of activities being sent to services. The Officer also stated that he felt the performance target of 95% was too high. Lastly, the Officer noted that performance was up this year, although not in the period which the report covered.

 

Councillor Johnson stated that he felt “percentage upheld” was a poor measure of performance, as 1 upheld complaint, out of a total of 1 complaints would show as 100% of complaints upheld, and this would be misleading. The Officer stated that the service level “Dashboards” in the Appendices provided a more accurate breakdown and measure of performance, and that percentage upheld was used to provide a general overview.

 

Councillor Gerrish commented that the volume of complaints around bin collections had increased, as had the percentage of upheld complaints. The Councillor asked if this was showing any signs of improvement. The Officer stated that there had been no improvement and more work was required in this area.

 

RESOLVED:

 

The Standards and Audit Committee noted the statistics and performance for this reporting period.

20.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Minutes:

No changes to the proposed Work Programme were requested.