(Chief Internal Auditor) To consider the attached report (AGC-0176-2017/18).
The Senior Internal Auditor presented the Internal Audit Monitoring report for the period November 2017 to February 2018.
The Senior Internal Auditor emphasised that good progress was being made against the Audit Plan for 2017/18, but it was requested for two scheduled audits to be deferred to 2018/19. Firstly, Complaints, as the current system for managing Complaints was being reviewed during 2018/19, and secondly, Equality Impact Assessments, to allow time for recent revisions to be fully implemented. The Committee was requested to approve the deferral of these two Audits from 2017/18 to 2018/19.
The Senior Internal Auditor advised the Committee that two reports had been issued since the previous meeting, both of which had been given substantial assurance: Fleet Operations Income; and Community Safety – Joint Working. The Audit Recommendation Tracker currently contained 4 recommendations which had passed their due date; one high priority and one medium priority recommendation regarding Health & Safety – Townmead Depot, and two low priority recommendations concerning External Data Transfers.
The Senior Internal Auditor reported that, since November 2017, the Corporate Fraud Team had continued their proactive approach in tackling Right-To-Buy fraud, worked closely with the Communities Directorate to prevent Tenancy fraud, as well as undertaking a number of internal investigations. The Team had been preparing for a Crown Court trial which involved a number of charges relating to social housing fraud, including the suspected fraudulent obtaining of a Home Ownership Grant. However, the defendant had pleaded guilty so there was no longer a need for a full trial.
The Senior Internal Auditor stated that, as part of the National Fraud Initiative, the annual Council Tax/Electoral Register data matching exercise was completed in December 2017 and a review of data matches by the Council Tax section was in progress, with Internal Audit providing training and guidance to Officers as necessary. Previous exercises have found many matches are not fraudulent and there was usually a simple explanation for matches; no significant frauds had been identified to date.
The Senior Internal Auditor reminded the Committee that staff within the Shared Service were represented on a number of business groups and project teams in addition to less formal meetings, to provide advice and guidance, including:
· the General Data Protection Regulation Working Party;
· Programme & Project Management / Corporate & Business Planning;
· Personal Data (Payroll/HR);
· the Corporate Debt Working Party; and
· the Risk Management Group.
Finally, the Senior Internal Auditor informed the Committee that the Council’s Code of Corporate Governance had undergone its annual review, and it was considered that no changes was required to the Code as it still reflected current practice. Consequently, the Committee was requested to approve the reviewed Code.
The Director of Resources explained that a new corporate debt management system was being implemented, whereby a central debt collection unit would use the information from all of the Council’s sundry debt systems. The Debtor would only be contacted by one person and only one solution for all of their debts to the Council would be agreed.
When enquired further about the progress of the Audit Plan, the Chief Internal Auditor responded that a number of the outstanding audits had been progressed, and some extra resource had been brought in. The work on the General Data Protection Regulation was the top priority at the moment with a non-movable deadline of 25 May 2018 and had taken more time than expected, plus there had been some staff sickness as well. Any audits not completed this year would be completed early during 2018/19.
Some members of the Committee were sceptical about the reasons for requesting two audits to be deferred until 2018/19, and suggested that the contingency allocation should be used to progress these audits. However, the Chief Internal Auditor reiterated that the Internal Audit Team would struggle to complete these Audits using the contingency allocation, and highlighted that these two audits were not considered particularly high risk. The Director of Resources added that the Complaints procedure had been revised and there had been a report prepared on this for the next meeting of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee.
(1) That the progress made against the Internal Audit Plan for 2017/18 be noted;
(2) That the summary of work performed by Internal Audit and the Corporate Fraud Team for the period November 2017 to February 2018 be noted;
(3) That the proposal to defer the following two audits from the 2017/18 Audit Plan to 2018/19 be agreed:
(a) Complaints; and
(b) Equality Impact Assessments; and
(4) That, following a review, the Council’s Code of Corporate Governance be approved.