Agenda and minutes

Audit and Assurance Committee - Thursday, 8th September, 2022 10.30 am

Contact: Daniel Hamilton  Email:

No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies were received from Mr S Collins and Mr G Cook.



To note any changes to the membership of the Committee




There were no changes to membership on this occasion.



Members are invited to disclose any disclosable pecuniary interest they have in any item on the agenda which comprises


1          Details of any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for            profit or gain.


2          Details of any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the authority) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by you in carrying out duties as a member, or towards your election expenses.  (This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.


3          Details of any contract which is made between you (or a body in which you have a beneficial interest) and the authority


(a)       Under which goods or services are to be provided or works are to be executed; and


            (b)       Which has not been fully discharged.


4          Details of any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the authority. 


5          Details of any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the area of the authority for a month or longer. 


6          Details of any tenancy where (to your knowledge)


            (a)       The landlord is the authority; and


            (b)       The tenant is a body in which you have a beneficial                                                         interest.


7          Details of any beneficial interest in securities of a body where


(a)       That body (to your knowledge) has a place of business or land in the    area of the authority; and



(b)       Either –


(i)      The total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one            hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body; or


(ii)     If that share capital of that body is of more than one class, the total nominal value of the shares of any one class in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.

In addition, you must also disclose other non-pecuniary interests set out in the Code of Conduct where these have not already been registered.




A “disclosable pecuniary interest” is an interest of a councillor or their partner (which means spouse or civil partner, a person with whom they are living as husband or wife, or a person with whom they are living as if they are civil partners).


There were no disclosures of interest made on this occasion.



To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any item on the agenda.


RESOLVED that,                 there were no items on the agenda which required the exclusion of press and public.


MINUTES pdf icon PDF 242 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 30 June 2022.


RESOLVED that,                 the minutes of the previous meeting held on 30 June 2022 were agreed as an accurate and complete record.



To consider a presentation on the Local Government Reorganisation Programme with a focus on the governance and assurance arrangements around the transfer of services to the two new Unitary Authorities.    


(to follow)  



The Deep Dive presentation for this meeting focussed on the LGR programme governance arrangements relating to the Delivery of the Two New Councils for Cumbria.


The presentation was delivered by the Chief Executive and provided assurance to the committee in context of the LGR Programme and the new Shadow Authorities and Fire & Rescue Service. In summary, the presentation included the following elements:


  • A diagram of the LGR Governance Arrangements, showing both Officer and Member Involvement
  • Detailed slides on each Governing Board, outlining purpose, scope and membership of each Board
    • LGR Programme Board
    • Day 1 Board
    • Cumberland and Westmorland & Furness Boards
    • Fire & Rescue Services Boards
    • Member’s Implementation Board
  • A diagram of Critical Milestones for each Theme, from May 2022 to end March 2023
  • Examples of Performance Dashboards presented to the Programme and Day 1 Boards


Members sought assurances regarding the reallocation of staff and the likelihood that TUPE could lead to salary disparities between staff working in the same roles. The Chief Executive stated that as explained at staff briefings and engagement sessions, all staff would TUPE into position on 1 April 2023 within one of the new Unitary Councils under the same terms and conditions, from that point on it would be a matter for the new Unitary Councils.


In response to a supplementary question regarding how staff would be split between the two councils, the Chief Executive explained that the Council had published and shared with staff an allocation framework which set out how the staff are proposed to be split between the two councils as well as the Fire & Rescue Service. This framework takes into account what the scope of the role is, who it serves within the community and how it is delivered. Further to this, staff would be asked to express their preference. The Chief Executive then provided assurance that staff would know where they were being redeployed by the end of November 2022.


A discussion then took place regarding budget planning, whereby the Director of Finance (S151 Officer) explained that one of the critical aspects will be the assumptions, which will be included in the Medium-Term Financial Plan 2023/24. Members heard that the Finance team were supporting the Interim S151 Officers and the shadow authorities to develop their own financial plans.


The Chair then led a discussion on member involvement and governance, she sought assurance that oversight was in place to provide checks and balances. The Chief Executive explained that the structure of the Members Implementation Board was critical in performance management across the process. Further to this, he stated that if anyone within the shadow authorities had a concern the escalation route was through their cabinet. The Structural Change Order provided the shadow authorities with the capacity to do anything permissible to ensure Day 1 readiness.


With regards to service development, and its relationship with wider financial planning, the Chair asked whether services were being developed to fit finances or whether financial planning was taking place to fit services. A detailed discussion took  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


2022/23 Quarter 1 Corporate Risk Report pdf icon PDF 244 KB

Additional documents:


Members considered a report from the Director of Finance (s151 Officer) which presented the Q1 Corporate Risk Register and reflected the status of the Council’s corporate risks at the end of June 2022 and into Quarter 2.


The Senior Risk Officer explained to members that the report outlined the risk landscape for the Q1 and into the Q2 period illustrating the ongoing nature and uncertainty in a number of concurrent areas including:-


  • COVID Response and Recovery – COVID-19 continues to have a direct and disruptive effect on staff shortages and a direct impact on Council Services.


  • Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) preparations continue to accelerate providing additional competing priorities.


  • The ‘Cost of Living Crisis’ is driving national and local government agendas in an attempt to help mitigate the impact of this crisis within communities.


  • Inflationary pressures – the Council continues to face significant financial pressures relating to high levels of inflation. Ongoing challenges across Adult Social Care and the care market as well as Children’s Services.


With regards to the risk summary profile at end of Quarter 1. There were now currently 14 corporate risks on the register from across the Council, compared to 13 at the end of Quarter 4. There were 10 high risks and 4 medium risks. No risks had been removed from the register, but one new risk had been added to the register. The new risk related to the Cost-of-Living Crisis which had been highlighted as an emerging risk at Q4. The Senior Risk Officer explained that although everyone was being affected, the current crisis was impacting low-income households most severely. Therefore, due to a growing demand for immediate welfare support and greater levels of necessary intervention across Council Services this issue had been escalated to the risk register with an initial risk score of 12.


Members then heard that three risks had been reworded. Firstly, relating to the UK wide issue in the staffing crisis across the care sector. In Cumbria, despite investment to try and stabilise the provider market, people were still exiting the wider care workforce while demand continued to grow. The Care Sector risk had been reworded, however the impact remained high with a risk score of 25.


The second reworded risk related to the Adult Social Care Service which continued to be under increasing levels of pressure due to rising demand, hospital discharge demands, workforce pressures and the fragility of the care market.


Members heard that in the context of the increasing demand on Health and Social Care there had been an increase in the risk score relating to the Safeguarding Adults risk, from 10 to 15.


Finally, the Cumbria Covid-19 Local Outbreak Control Plan risk had been reworded to focus on the possible resurgence of a new Covid-19 variant of concern. The risk score had also been reassessed with a small increase from 9 to 10.


Members discussed the role that flu could play over winter in impacting the delivery of services and whether it would be worth broadening the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Local Government Social Care Ombudsman Annual Review Letter pdf icon PDF 228 KB

To consider a report and summary presentation from the Interim Chief Legal Officer (Monitoring Officer).

Additional documents:


Members considered a report with information relating to complaints made to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman (LG&SCO) regarding Cumbria County Council for the year ended 31 March 2022.Members were reminded that the LG&SCO release statistics on annual basis, so this report contains a comparison of activity over the period 2018-19 to 2021-22.

The Information Governance & Investigations Coordinatorexplained that statistics in the annual letter focus on three key areas:


  • Complaints upheld – 12 decisions
  • Compliance with recommendations – 100% compliance
  • Satisfactory remedy provided by the authority before reaching ombudsman – 8 decisions


The Information Governance & Investigations Coordinator continued by explaining that, considering the amount of contact the Council has with customers, the number of referrals to the Ombudsman was very small and of these, only a small proportion were upheld. Members were given assurance that the learning from the LG&SCO’s feedback was being taken forward within the organisation, and therefore that any further risks were mitigated.


The Vice-Chair commented on SEND and Children’s Services complaints and highlighted that the majority of complaints came from these areas. He asked that officers note that there was a national review underway on the robustness of the complaints procedure with regard to SEND and Education Health Care Plans (EHCP). The Information Governance & Investigations Coordinator agreed and confirmed that 90% of all cases reported to the Ombudsman nationally were from these areas and national guidance had been issued.


The Chair reiterated that there was only a small number of contacts which resulted in a complaint and then highlighted that there were also less areas which could be identified as being evidence of a concerning trend.



RESOLVED, that                 members noted the content of the report and the LG&SCO’s Annual Letter for 2021.



Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO) and Information Governance Annual Report pdf icon PDF 441 KB

To consider a report from the Assistant Director – Organisational Change.


Members considered a report from the Assistant Director - Organisational Change which provided anupdaterelatingto the responsibilitiesof theCumbriaCountyCouncilSeniorInformationRisk Owner(SIRO) andoutlinedactivityandperformance data relatedto informationgovernance.


The Assistant Director - Organisational Change explained that the Council continuedto becommittedto effective information governance,withrobustarrangements in place to ensure the Council continued to comply with legislation and adopt best practice.


Members heard that governance arrangements were closely monitored to ensure systems, policies and procedures were fit for purpose, and able to accommodate new working procedures. It remained a priority to ensure that all staff and elected members understood the importance of information governance and security, so that good practice was embedded as part of the Council’s culture.


The Assistant Director - Organisational Change summarised some of the key actions delivered in 2021/22 which had strengthened the Council’s management of information risks. However, he brought to members attention the mandatory Information Security & Data Protection training that staff are required to complete on an annual basis.  A performance rate of 72% was achieved with 4,602 of CCC staff ‘available’ to undertake the training, having completed the course. This did not meet the Council’s target of 95%. A revised course for 2022 was launched in April 2022, which includes lessons learned from data breaches that have been reported. At the end of June 2022, 4,666 members of staff had completed the new course giving a completion rate of 70.8% to date with regular reminders to managers to maximise completion.


On the topic of data breaches, members were given assurances that all breaches and near misses were reported promptly to the Senior Information Risk Owner and discussed on a weekly basis.  Consideration was given in each case as to whether the incident should be referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Following assessment by the SIRO Group, a total of three cases were referred to the ICO in 2021/22 (an increase from one in 2020/21, however significantly better than 11 reported in 2019/20 prior to the pandemic). All three cases during 2021/22  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.


Internal Audit Progress Report to 31 July 2022 pdf icon PDF 373 KB

To consider a report from the Group Audit Manager.


Members considered a report from the Group Audit Manager which outlined internal audit progress up to 31 July 2022, summarising the progress on audit work included within the 2022/23 audit work plan and provided an update of the completion of outstanding 2021/22 work.


The Group Audit Manager began by explaining that there had been 8 audits completed in respect of the 2022/23 audit plan and highlighted that, two risk-based assurance reviews had been completed that would contribute towards the 2022/23 Head of Internal Audit Opinion. The two completed risk-based assurance reviews related to the ‘Data Protection Compliance - Follow up’ and ‘Contract management - non-significant contracts - Highways Road Surfacing’. Both were given ‘Reasonable’ assurance.


Members also heard that 6 audit reviews were brought forward from the 2021/22 audit plan and included in the 2022/23 plan. However, all six were included in last year’s Head of Internal Audit (HoIA) Opinion with 4 of the 6 receiving ‘Reasonable’ assurance and the other 2 receiving ‘Partial’ assurance.


Five of the six reviews had been completed when the Head of Internal Audit Opinion for 2021/22 was given in June 2022 and a summary of the findings from these reviews was reported to the Audit and Assurance Committee on 30 June 2022. In July 2022 the ‘Financial Sustainability’ review was also finalised. The Group Audit Manager explained that the review showed many good controls in place to support the Council’s financial stainability and also recognised the Council’s awareness of the risks and challenges that it faces in 2022/23, and that the two new unitary councils would face going forward.


The Group Audit Manager summarised the other work that had been carried out by Internal Audit in the period, highlighting that 4 grant claims that had been certified in the period including the £14 million Contain Outbreak Management Funding (COMF) which was funding to support proactive containment and intervention measures during the pandemic. The Group Audit Manager also commented that he had continued to undertake the role as work package lead on local government reorganisation for internal audit and finance legacy tasks.


Members heard that an audit review of the Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) had been removed from the 2022/23 audit plan. The Council’s Adoption Service was busy implementing the Action Plan following an LGA peer review of the Service in March 2022, this included some coverage on the Council’s involvement in the RAA. In addition, the Adoption Service had been subject to a statutory Safeguarding Practice Review following the death of an adopted child in Barrow. The full report was published on 28 July 2022 and Internal Audit’s view was that these reviews would provide sufficient independent scrutiny and indicate areas for improvement.


The Group Audit Manager stated that the audit plan included 41 reviews, with 9 (22%) completed to at least draft stage, and a further 18 (44%) having been started or at fieldwork stage. Members heard that the plan was to complete as much of the 2022/23 audit plan as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.



To note the Forward Plan for the Audit and Assurance Committee and agree any additional items.


There were no changes to the Forward Plan on this occasion.



The next meeting will be held on 18 November 2022 in County Hall, Kendal.



The next meeting of the Audit and Assurance Committee will take place on 18 November 2022 in County Hall, Kendal.