Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 2 - Bromley Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Steve Wood  020 8313 4316

Items
No. Item

13.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr Peter Fortune, and from Cllr William Huntington Thresher. Cllr Simon Fawthrop attended as alternate for Cllr Huntington Thresher.

14.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

Councillor Fawthrop declared an interest as his wife was employed by Bromley Adult Education College, and as the parent of a child attending a Bromley School.

 

Cllr Reddin declared an interest as a Governor of St Olave’s School, and as the parent of a child at Warren Road Primary School.

 

Councillor Onslow declared an interest as an agency worker, and that he worked part time for the Zurich Insurance Company.  

15.

CONFIRMATION OF THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 25th JUNE 2015 EXCLUDING THOSE CONTAINING EXEMPT INFORMATION pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Minutes:

The public minutes of the meeting held on 25th June 2015 were agreed.

16.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC OR COUNCILLORS ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions to this Committee must be received in writing 4 working days before the date of the meeting.  Therefore please ensure questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on 25TH November 2015.

 

Minutes:

No questions had been received.

17.

MATTERS OUTSTANDING--PART 1 pdf icon PDF 126 KB

Minutes:

Report CSD16003

 

It was noted that concerning the issue of the scrutiny of contracts by Members, this matter had now been referred to the E&R PDS Committee, and that a Contracts Working Party had now been set up and was meeting regularly.

 

The other matters were either completed or were being updated in the various progress reports on the agenda.

 

RESOLVED that the Matters Arising report be noted.       

 

 

18.

QUESTIONS ON THE AUDIT SUB COMMITTEE REDACTED REPORTS PUBLISHED ON THE WEB

The published reports are as follows:

 

·  Parks and Green Space Final Report—2014/15

·  Property Management Final Report—2014/15

·  Redacted Downe Primary School Final Audit Report

·  Redacted Commercial Property Rents Account

·  Redacted Direct Payment Final Audit Report—2015/16

·  Redacted Final Planning Enforcement Audit—2014/15

·  Redacted Final Audit Report for Merit Pay

·  Redacted Final Follow Up Audit for Family Placements—2015/16

·  Redacted Final Housing Benefit Audit Report—2014/15

·  Redacted Final Debtors Report—2014/15

·  Redacted Final Follow Up Report For Leaving Care—2015/16

·  Redacted Final Purchase Card Follow Up Audit Report—2015/16

·  Redacted Final Report Building Maintenance Report—2014/15

·  Redacted Oak Lodge Final Audit Report—2015/16

·  Final Internal Audit report for St Olaves and St Saviours 

·  Redacted IT Assets and Software Licences Follow Up—2015/16

·  Redacted Pool Cars and Fuel Cards Follow Up Audit—2015/16

·  Redacted Main Accounting Audit—2014/2015

·  Key to LAC Follow Up Redacted Report

·  Redacted Liberata Final Report—2015/16

·  Redacted Waste Audit—2015/16

 

Members have been provided with advance copies of the reports via email.

 

The reports are also available on the Council’s website via the following link:

 

http://cds.bromley.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=5577

 

 

Printed copies of reports are available upon request by contacting Steve Wood on 0208 313 4316 or by email—stephen.wood@bromley.gov.uk 

 

 

Minutes:

Two questions had been received from Cllr Ian Dunn:

 

Housing Benefit.

 

How do we obtain assurance from the contractor that their staffing and processes are adequate to deal with the forecast volume of work, particularly given that the length of time for the processing of Discretionary Housing Payments can be long and most appeals appear to take longer than the SLA? Do we have agreed forecasts of workload for these and other items?

 

Answer:

 

Work has been carried out recently to reduce the time to process applications. The current performance for application processing is now within targets. For DHP, Bromley has to approve payments and there tends to be a build-up of claims around year end. Appeals also come to Bromley now.

 

Liberata Final Report.

 

Is it possible for LBB staff to be given the ability to run reports now, rather than wait till after March 2018 when the existing contract ends? 

 

Answer:

 

Currently LBB officers do not have the facility to run reports. This would require training and variation to the contract which could be considered on expiry of the current contract.

 

 

RESOLVED that the redacted reports published on the web be noted.

 

 

19.

INTERNAL AUDIT PROGRESS REPORT pdf icon PDF 286 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CEO 15011

 

The audit of Family Placements was undertaken as part of the 2014/15 audit plan, at the request of the Assistant Director for Safeguarding and Social Care. This had resulted in 8 P1 recommendations and a nil assurance. The Head of Internal Audit explained that progress was being made, although it was a bit slow. There were still problems with training that required resolution; only 1 out of 9 staff identified to undertake training concerning financial regulations and contract procedure rules had completed and passed the training. There were still outstanding DBS checks that required chasing.  Of the 8 P1 recommendations tested to confirm implementation, 3 were still outstanding, and 5 were found to be partially implemented.

 

Good progress had been made concerning the Leaving Care (Payments to Clients) audit review. The findings of the review were that of the 6 partially implemented recommendations, 4 had been implemented, and the 2 relating to pathway plans and purchase cards remained as partially implemented.

 

The audit review of Looked after Children found that care plans and placement plans had been completed and authorised in a timely manner, and the recommendation is therefore considered implemented. The second P1 recommendation on recovery of an overpayment is currently being pursued to the satisfaction of Internal Audit and therefore is considered implemented.

 

The P1 recommendation pertaining to rent arrears for emergency accommodation was the longest outstanding. The process of the reconciliation of accounts with Orchard and Shipman was underway, and this may reduce the level of rent arrears. However, there was currently still a high level of uncollected rent, and so this recommendation remained outstanding. The Head of Internal Audit reminded the Committee of the recommendations concerning the Essential Care User scheme which was being phased out. Management were implementing the recommendations and therefore all three priority one recommendations have been implemented.

 

The audit review of Domiciliary Care revealed that there were still problems with agreements closed on incorrect dates, and agreements not being closed after a person was deceased. Therefore the two P1 recommendations remained open.

 

The audit follow up on the priority one recommendation made in the Transition Team audit, regarding under and overpayments in direct payment cases showed that this was still outstanding.

 

There had previously been an audit of a primary school that revealed problems with poor cash control. The school had since converted to an Academy, and the recommendations would be followed up by the responsible officer. The School Finance Team were now involved in improving financial controls.

 

The Head of Internal Audit reminded the Committee that from April 2002 to September 2015, LBB had worked successfully with RB Greenwich Fraud Team in successfully prosecuting Housing Benefit Fraud; during this period, 420 claimants had been successfully prosecuted. Since 1st July 2015 all new cases of suspected benefit fraud were now referred to the DWP’s Single Integrated Fraud Service. Internal Audit had received some feedback from SFIS, including the fact that 6 referrals had been lost. There were 29  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

FINANCIAL REGULATIONS & CONTRACT PROCEDURE RULES pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CEO 15013

 

The Committee looked at the comprehensive report written by the Head of Audit concerning Financial Regulations and Contract Procedure Rules. 

 

The report was required as it had been three years since Members had approved previous updates. Both documents now required updating due to changes in legislation, government requirements, organisational change and technology.

 

The Committee were referred to section 3 of the report where the main changes were summarised. The Committee heard that the regulations and rules had been working well, and that the current proposals were basic amendments to current procedures.  Of particular significance were proposals to use electronic signatures to cut down on bureaucracy, and clarification on the rules concerning paying for services in advance. Similarly, there was also a proposal to increase the individual debt write off limits which would also reduce bureaucracy and align LBB with other local authorities. The Committee were informed that a new Transparency Code had been drafted in line with new requirements that had been set out in the Local Government Transparency Code. 

 

The Committee were informed that the limit for righting off low level debts had been increased from £5k to £15k. This was one of the changes recommended for approval by the Audit Sub Committee. Cllr Fawthrop questioned why LBB were seeking to implement the limit increase. He felt that it was not good enough just to be aligning with other boroughs, perhaps the other boroughs were adopting a policy that was too lax. The Head of Internal Audit explained that the reasons for the increase in limit  was to reduce bureaucracy at a time when there were reductions in  staffing resources.  It was also the case that all recovery methods for large debts were explored by management before debts were written off and that write offs including large debts are audited annually to ensure compliance with procedure.

 

Cllr Fawthrop asked if spot checks would be undertaken on some of the debts that had been written off, and the answer to this was yes. Cllr Fawthrop was relieved to hear this, and reminded the Committee that there was a previous problem with a staff member writing off personal debt. The Head of Internal Audit commented that these debts were under £10.00. Cllr Fawthrop suggested that perhaps there should be a “split” applied to the way debts were written off. He suggested that the write off of cash debts should be limited to £5k. The Chairman stated that he was happy to support the revised limit of £15k.

 

Cllr Fawthrop asked the Head of Internal Audit for more information about how many debts there had been in the last financial year between £5k and £15k. The Head of Internal Audit responded that he would look into this and email the information to Sub Committee Members.

 

Cllr Keith Onslow directed the attention of the committee to Section 5, (sub section 22) of the report which dealt with “Risk Assessment and Contingency Planning”. He was concerned about project risk, and asked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 AS AMENDED BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT (ACCESS TO INFORMATION) (VARIATION) ORDER 2006 AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

  The Chairman to move that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the item of business listed below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business listed below as it was likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

22.

MATTERS ARISING FROM THE MEETING ON 25th JUNE 2015-PART 2

Minutes:

Report CSD 16004

 

The part two (private) Matters Arising report was noted.  

23.

INTERNAL AUDIT FRAUD & INVESTIGATION REPORT

Minutes:

CEO 15012

 

Members noted the report and commented upon matters arising from the Internal Audit Fraud and Investigation report.

 

Members approved the four audit reports where LBB were seeking exemption from publication for the reasons stated.

 

The full minutes of this item are detailed in the part two minutes. 

24.

EXEMPT MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 25th JUNE 2015

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Exempt Minutes of the meeting held on 25th June 2015 be agreed.

 

Original Text: