Agenda item

Internal Audit Update - BDO

(Copy herewithin)


At the Chair’s invitation, Gurpreet Dulay presented the report from BDO and informed the Audit Committee that the safeguarding review which was delayed due to Covid-19 had now been completed which concluded the 2019/20 internal audit. The summary table on page 8 of the report outlined the work undertaken for the 2019/20 review and the internal audit opinion, and the following page outlined the progress of the 2020/21 internal audit plan. He explained that the HMO licensing and enforcement audit had been removed from the plan and the audits around climate emergency were to be finalised, and that the licensing audit was ongoing.


In terms of the safeguarding review, the effectiveness was rated limited as training was inadequate for officers with less than 55% completion rates. He explained that the Council were required to produce a section 11 position statement, which showed that actions identified in both the 2017 and 2019/20 surveys were not met and showed as outstanding.


The Chief Finance Officer provided assurance that a comprehensive response would be provided by 8 January from the director. There would also be mandatory safeguarding training for staff and the Council was in the process of changing its e-learning provider. An update would be brought to the next Audit Committee meeting.


Members expressed their concerns regarding the Safeguarding review as the Council has a duty of care, and to ensure that vulnerable individuals are protected. Members asked if the inadequate training had caused an adverse effect on individuals. Gurpreet reiterated that the responsible director would be able to answer those concerns, and that in Northamptonshire the County Council had responsibility for safeguarding. However, effective safeguarding relied on individuals being trained, in order to know what to look out for and assisting the County by raising intelligence through safeguarding protocols.


Gurpreet continued to present the next section of the report, 2021-21 self-isolation grant scheme which was set up to support those who had to self-isolate due to Covid-19. He explained the scheme started on 28 September 2020 and would run until 31 January 2021, and Councils were to distribute the funds as instructed by government. BDO had been asked to oversee and check the process as to mitigate the risk of fraud or error. Recommendations were put forward from BDO to LGSS which were actioned to improve the portal and overall process. Arrangements are also in place to retest the system and follow up checks will be undertaken on a sample basis. The next section of the report from page 16 showed a sector update, and this concluded the progress report.


The next report, the internal audit follow up of recommendations, summarised the audits undertaken in 2018/19 and the progress of the 2019/20 audits, with a narrative summary on the following pages. The table on page 26 outlined the recommendations with 12 high and 4 medium rated actions. The due dates on some actions have been revised, as covid-19 has impacted progress, or moved to a new West Northants category.


Members discussed the report. BDO will provide a final position statement at the Audit Committee in March along with an update on the safeguarding response. The Chair thanked Gurpreet and his team at BDO for all of their hard work and for the comprehensive reports.


RESOLVED:  That the Audit Committee noted the report.

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