Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Office. View directions

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Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Interest, if any

Minutes:

No declarations were reported at the meeting.

2.

Minutes of the meeting held on 29th April 2021 pdf icon PDF 188 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 29th April, 2021, be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

3.

Audit Committee Action Log pdf icon PDF 328 KB

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Audit Committee Action Log report, which updated members on the actions agreed during Audit Committee meetings. Members were advised that all actions were progressing well. The log attached to the report showed details relating to six actions requested in the April 2021 meeting and there were no actions outstanding from earlier meetings.

 

It was noted that three actions were complete and the remaining three are scheduled for completion at the October meeting of the Audit Committee.

 

RESOLVED that Committee noted the progress made against the actions agreed at the previous committee meetings.

 

4.

Annual Report of the Monitoring Officer pdf icon PDF 406 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Scott Fawcus, Monitoring Officer presented his Annual report on matters relating to ethical governance, including details of complaint handling activity carried out in consultation with the Independent Person in relation to allegations of Member misconduct, details of disclosures made under the Council’s Whistleblowing Policy during the last 12 months, and reports under the Money Laundering Policy.

 

As Members were aware, at its AGM on the 21st May 2021, the Council resolved to adopt the new LGA Model Code of Conduct, which was drafted following recommendations by the Committee, On Standards in Public Life. Following adoption by DMBC, the Monitoring Officer stated that he had written to all Parish and Town Council Clerks across Doncaster encouraging them to sign-up to the new Code and offering assistance to Clerks.

 

The Monitoring Officer reported that he had a statutory responsibility to consider matters in relation to potential breaches of the Member Code of Conduct in relation to Borough Councillors and Parish and Town Councils across the Borough.  He was pleased to report that the levels of complaints received and most importantly, the number of actual breaches remain very low.

 

Clarity was sought with regard to whether Elected Members were covered by the Policy in the same way as Stakeholders. The Monitoring Officer advised that Elected Members were covered like any other Member of the Public. However stated that he would review and if not already covered, reference to Elected Members could be included.

 

The Chair made reference to paragraph 9 of the report, in relation to Town and Parish Councillors not being on the Monitoring Officers radar. However, highlighted that the proposed changes never received parliamentary time. He asked whether there had been any progress on this issue. The Monitoring Officer advised that to date no progress had been made and the 2011 sanctions remain in place. He commented that as Members are aware, complaints come to the Audit Hearing Sub-Committee who impose sanctions for breaches of the code of conduct, which are relatively limited. He stated that more sanctions may be useful in some cases however, most breaches are of a low level and if a Member is prepared to apologise no further action is required.

 

With regard to the revised Code, the Chair asked whether there had been any changes in conduct noted and whether sign up to the new code had been positive. The Monitoring Officer advised members that he would be writing to all clerks seeking an update with regard to take up, so far Askern Town Council had signed up. He commented that the biggest change would be social media activity where an increase of interaction had been seen from members in recent times, combining that with the difficult 18 months and recent elections political tensions can rise.

 

In light of promoting the Whistle blowing policy and only receiving one complaint, it was asked whether the Monitoring Officer was satisfied with the level of awareness of the Policy. The Monitoring Officer advised that an update has been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Unaudited Statement of Accounts 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 346 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Prior to the discussion on the report, the Chair and Members wished to express their thanks to all staff who had worked on the preparation of the draft accounts.

 

The Committee received a report, which presented the Council’s unaudited Statement of Accounts for the 2020/21 financial year. The report highlighted the overall financial position for the year and information on performance including improvements achieved in accuracy and quality. It was advised that the accounts had been published on the Council’s website and to date no enquires had been received. Officers stated that it was positive that the accounts had been completed at this early stage and reminded members that the Council completed the 2019/20 accounts by the deadline, unlike a number of other Councils. It was also noted that the Council had received an unqualified response from the Council’s external auditors Grant Thornton last year.

 

The Committee asked a number of questions as follows:-

 

The Chair asked in terms of Government Grants detailed within paragraph 23(d) of the report had any problems arisen through Internal Audit discussion. In response, it was reported that a lot of work had been done in the area, primarily in relation to business rates. As Committee were aware, the annual report presented a positive low incidence of fraud in January and since that, time there has been minimal problems identified. With regard to wider grants, it was advised that ongoing assessments were being undertaken in order to establish whether further detailed audit was required and no areas had been identified through this process at present.

 

Clarification was sought on the Councils position and whether it was clearer in terms of lost income, increased cost due to Covid and the position with regard to reimbursements from Central Government. In response, it was reported that, in terms of 2020/21, included in the accounts was all the Government money in terms of COVID, which details £166m additional grants from Government, included in that are grants and reliefs provided to businesses. It was also noted that the outturn position and lost income in the collection fund position were also included.

 

It was reported that moving forward into 2021/22, it was advised that officers were monitoring the position very closely. Business rates and Council Tax are monitored in terms of the impact on those on a monthly basis and this will be reported through the quarter one report.

 

With regard to other income, it was advised that the Council will receive reimbursements for sales, fees and charges losses due to COVID for the first quarter Officers will carry out a monitoring return and send to the MHCLG and the Council will receive reimbursement adjusted for 5% of the budget, the Council will receive 75% of the remaining loss. It was advised that officers were also closely monitoring other income streams such as car parking and income from the Herten Triangle and properties around the cinema, which will also be fed into the budget moving forward.

 

The Council also received for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Audit Committee Prospectus, Terms of Reference and Work programme 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Minutes:

Committee received a report on the Audit Committees Prospectus, Terms of Reference and Work Programme 2021/22.

 

The prospectus sets out the scope and standards applicable to the Audit Committee, and shows how these and the Terms of Reference enable the Committee to comply with Local Government Audit Committee standards and the Council’s requirements of the Committee.

 

It was noted that the prospectus also included a draft work programme, which demonstrated how the Committee fulfils its Terms of Reference for the year. It also schedules an indicative programme of training and awareness sessions for Audit Committee Members.

 

The Chair highlighted paragraph 13 of the report and stated that Members would never stop learning and welcomed the training and briefings. In terms of the programme being reviewed, he asked whether items could be added as the year progresses. In response, Members were advised, that if any issues arose, then the work programme could be flexed to meet the Committees requirements.

 

            RESOLVED that:-

 

(1)        the prospectus setting out the Audit Committee’s scope,         standards and work programme for the year be agreed; and

 

(2)        the unchanged Terms of Reference for the Audit Committee for        2021/22 Municipal Year be noted.