To consider a report from the Group Audit Manager
A report was considered from the Group Audit Manager regarding the Internal Audit Progress report to 31 October 2019. The report provided a summary of the work of Internal Audit in the three months to 31 October 2019. The key points included that work was progressing on the reviews in the 2019/20 audit plan and it was anticipated that sufficient overall coverage would be achieved by 31 May 2020 to enable the Head of Internal Audit to provide the 2019/20 annual opinion.
The Group Audit Manager informed members of the outcomes from Final Audit Reports and on the progress of follow up audits to 31 October 2019. With regard to the two school, assurance levels had improved from limited assurance to reasonable assurance.
Internal Audit had also been involved in other work such as completing work on 6 grant claims bringing the total claims audited to 10 for the current year. The Group Audit Manager highlighted this as a growth area in their work as Government continued to provide some funding through specific grants and often required both audit and the Council’s Chief Executive to sign off that funding had been spent in accordance with grant conditions. Internal Audit had also provided support and advice on the implementation of the new ADAM system.
The Group Audit Manager gave a summary of the draft reports issued to 31 October 2019, focussing on the follow up work undertaken on the ICT Strategy which when undertaken a few years earlier had been given limited assurance. Following review, this now had Reasonable Assurance. The status of internal audit work was reported, with the Group Audit Manager stating that sufficient reviews should be completed in order for him to give his Audit Opinion in 2020.
A member stated that in his experience as a school Governor, audit review outcomes may be affected by work practices in schools, commenting on the large number of policies that had to be adhered to. The Group Audit Manager explained how audits were undertaken in schools and talked about the overall summary of audits which highlighted the key audit messages which were then presented and considered by the Schools Forum.
A number of members stated that effective training for Clerks to School Governors was required. The Director of Finance (s151 Officer) undertook to report this to the Governor Support Service. She highlighted that there had to be cooperation between schools and the Council for the sharing of knowledge and training. A member talked about his own practice to identify where schools lacked expertise in order that he could be confident that when he supported a new School Governor, the skills and knowledge gap was filled.
Following a query from a member, the Director of Finance (s151 Officer) explained the rules for schools who set a deficit budget. She explained how the National Schools Funding Formula was determined and that it had implications for the financial operation of small schools in the county.
The Chair welcomed that the follow up audits were delivering improved assurance ratings and drew members’ attention to the follow up work on Social Worker Recruitment and Retention. She asked if and how the Committee could help with reinforcing the importance of the implementation of agreed audit recommendations, in particular high level recommendations. The Group Audit Manager highlighted the comments made on the follow up audit by the Executive Director – People. He also highlighted that it was Departmental Management Teams’ responsibility to monitor the implementation of Internal Audit’s recommendations. He would be able to give a clearer picture on follow ups in the forthcoming months.
The Chair asked that where follow up audits received partial or limited assurance as a result of recommendations not being implemented what support could the Committee provide to ensure the recommendations were implemented. The Group Audit Manager commented that one option was to request a further follow up audit. The Chair commented that the Committee could ask the relevant Assistant Director / Senior Manager to provide a progress report to the Committee.
RESOLVED that, Members note the progress and the outcomes of internal audit work