Agenda item

Internal Audit Update

·         BDO

·         LGSS


The Chair invited the Internal Auditor, BDO to address the Committee.


The Internal Auditor, BDO presented the Internal Audit Update report and set out to the Committee the three reports that have been submitted for consideration. The Internal Auditor explained in reference to the progress on the 2018/19 plan that all the actions required have been completed. Against the 2019/20 plan, the Committee heard that the Council is making good progress and has recently started a review on cyber and health and safety. Progress on these will be fed back to the next meeting of Audit Committee.


Members raised a question to the Internal Auditor as to who decides what is audited. In response, the Internal Auditor stated that the items chosen for audit are selected through management meetings, staff reviews and then presented to the Audit Committee. It was noted that the items for Audit to consider were approved at the last meeting of Audit Committee.


The Internal Auditor, BDO explained to the Committee that there has also been a Senior Management restructure and that 4 recommendations have been put forward in reference to this to ensure the mechanics of this are working. In reference to Temporary Accommodation arrangements have been made around rent collection and good improvement has been made through the corporate wide homeless strategy.


Members raised a question that if an appeal was heard at court, and found not to be in the Council’s favour, how it would affect the budget. The Chief Finance Officer responded stating that the budget is a guide, that there are variances and uncertainties which are accorded for respectively. The Internal Auditor further explained that the Council is chasing debt from people in difficult circumstances in temporary accommodation.


Councillor Stone raised a question to the Chief Finance Officer about whether Northampton Partnership Homes have their own internal audit process. In response to questions from Members, the Chief Finance Officer explained that the Council will work more closely with Northampton Partnership Homes to get the information required for the Council’s audit process.


Councillor M Markham stated to the Committee that she sits on Northampton Partnership Homes as a board member and that she will go back to them to state that the Council requires this information to assist with the audit process. She further commented that she has great concern that proper process has not been followed and that the Major Capital Projects area gives her the greatest concern.


Councillor Stone enquired how the risks were being managed and whether NBC had suitable officers managing the large capital projects, Councillor Markham expressed a concern over the Museum Project and who was managing it with the HoS leaving, stating that there has been a runaway budget for Delapre Abbey and Sixfields and sought assurance that the forecast and annual spend will be closely aligned. In response, the Chief Finance Officer stated that the Council is refining our project management with reference to Delapre Abbey and issues are regularly reviewed at internal meetings at a corporate level. Cllr Golby also expressed concern on the projects.


The Internal Auditor, BDO explained regarding the high levels of non-compliance to formal requirements such as performance discussions and settings targets which are SMART. Non-compliance related not to individuals but the process. The appraisal process was given as an instance and it was noted that it is the responsibility of all Members of Staff to help improve the process. It was further noted that challenges and improvements are to be made especially heading towards unitary status.


The Chief Finance Officer also explained to the Committee that there is only one Human Resources Manager and that Human Resources is being restructured since September 2019. A new HR Business Partner will be appointed in August 2019.


Councillor M Markham asked the Internal Auditor, BDO as to whether there are issues with recruitment across the Council. The Internal Auditor, BDO responded that there is a widespread issue across the Council with regards to recruitment and retaining staff. He further stated that there have been issues concerning the handover process and succession planning which has created fragility. The Chief Finance Officer additionally stated that it is very difficult to secure succession planning in lots of specialist areas, and that the Council is looking to develop its staff from within the organisation.


The Internal Auditor, BDO stated that roadmaps are not currently in place referencing the digital strategy and that further scrutiny has been requested and this will happen in due course as the strategy develops. In regard to the follow-up recommendations, he continued that it will be pertinent to ensure that any findings and recommendations are assessed and any actions completed by the due date.


The Chair stated that there are outstanding issues that need addressing and questioned when a suitable time will be to see managerial responses by. The Chief Finance Officer stated that he aims to provide a response to the September meeting of the Audit Committee.


The Chair invited the Internal Auditor, LGSS to present his report to the Committee. The Internal Auditor, LGSS explained that there has been a satisfactory level of compliance assurance with reference to the Accounts Receivable audit. The Housing Benefits audit is currently in draft stage although it was noted that benefit claims are recorded accurately. The Fixed Assets Register is additionally up to date and compliant.



1.            Reviewed the Internal Audit Update and were satisfied with its contents.

2.            The Audit Committee asked that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee be invited to consider whether they should review the Museum Project.

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