Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Venue: The Forum, Moat Lane, Towcester, Northants NN12 6AD

Contact: Sharon Hickson, Democratic and Elections  Email: democracy@cherwellandsouthnorthants.gov.uk 01295 221534

Items
No. Item

53.

Declarations of Interest

Members are asked to declare any interest and the nature of that interest which they may have in any of the items under consideration at this meeting.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

54.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 23 January 2020.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 23 January 2020 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

55.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive communications from the Chairman.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman paid tribute to Sharon Hickson – Democratic and Elections Officer, who was attending her final meeting of the Committee following the separation of joint working arrangements between South Northamptonshire Council and Cherwell District Council.  

 

On behalf of the Committee, the Chairman thanked Sharon for her work during her time at SNC.

 

56.

Urgent Business

The Chairman to advise whether they have agreed to any items of urgent business being admitted to the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

57.

Housing Benefit Subsidy pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Report of the Executive Director Finance

 

Purpose of report

 

To provide members of this Committee with an update on the Housing Benefit subsidy claim audit for the financial year 2018-2019.

 

Recommendations

            

The meeting is recommended:

 

1.1       To note the contents of this report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)           That the contents of the report be noted.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report from the Executive Director – Finance, which provided Members with an update on the Housing Benefit subsidy claim audit for the financial year 2018-2019.

 

In introducing the report, the Operations Director – CSN Resources outlined that for the financial year 2018-2019, South Northamptonshire Council had submitted a Housing Benefit Subsidy claim to the Department for Work and Pensions which totalled £12,628,928.00.

 

In response to questions from the Committee regarding errors identified in the audit of SNC’s subsidy claim, the Operations Director – CSN Resources explained that, following initial testing of the subsidy claim, additional samples of 40 cases were selected for further evaluation from each of the problem areas: 40 rent allowance claims with earnings, 40 rent allowance claims with new claim start dates, and 40 rent allowance claims with private pension income.

 

Resolved

 

(1)           That the contents of the report be noted.

58.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction and Risk Based Verification pdf icon PDF 97 KB

Report of Executive Director Finance

 

Purpose of report

 

To provide members of this Committee with an update on the Risk Based Verification (RBV) module and the online application form that were introduced for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction new claims from November 2014, including any impact on the service; and to seek approval for some minor changes to the RBV policy.

 

Recommendations

            

The meeting is recommended:

 

1.1       To note the contents of this report.

 

1.2     To approve some minor changes to the Risk Based Verification policy for the financial year 2020 - 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)          That the contents of the report be noted.

 

(2)          That the revised Risk Based Verification policy for the financial year 2020 - 2021 be approved.

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report from the Executive Director – Finance, which updated Members on the Risk Based Verification (RBV) module and the online application form that were introduced for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction new claims from November 2014, including any impact on the service; and sought approval for the revised RBV policy.

 

The Operations Director – CSN Resources explained to Members that, following its introduction, the impact of Risk Based Verification (RBV) had been carefully monitored and that the introduction had led to a decrease in the average time taken to process new claims versus the national average.

 

Resolved

 

(1)           That the contents of the report be noted.

 

(2)           That the revised Risk Based Verification policy for the financial year 2020 - 2021 be approved.

 

59.

Internal Audit Update 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Report of the Executive Director - Finance

 

Purpose of report

 

To receive the CW Audit Service Update report for 2019/20.

 

Recommendations

            

The meeting is recommended:

 

1.1       To note the contents of the 2019/20 internal audit progress report from CW Audit Services.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)           That the contents of the 2019/20 internal audit progress report from CW Audit Services be noted

 

Minutes:

The Executive Director – Finance submitted a report which detailed the CW Audit Service Update for 2019/20.

 

In presenting the report, CW Audit, the Council’s internal auditor, outlined that the final audit reports for Homelessness and Anti-Fraud and Corruption had recently been completed, with the levels of assurance having been graded as ‘moderate’ in both reports.

 

In response to questions from Members regarding the progress of existing recommendations from finalised Internal Audit reports, the Internal Auditor – CW Audit explained that several previous recommendations had since been actioned, which brought the total number of actions implemented to 52, with 23 recommendations still outstanding.

 

Resolved

 

(1)           That the contents of the 2019/20 internal audit progress report from CW Audit Services be noted

 

60.

Internal Audit Plan 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Report of the Executive Director - Finance

 

Purpose of report

 

To receive the CW Audit Plan for 2020/21.

 

Recommendations

            

The meeting is recommended:

 

1.1       To note the contents of the 2020/21 internal audit plan from CW Audit Services.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)           That the contents of the 2020/21 internal audit plan from CW Audit Services be noted.

Minutes:

The Executive Director – Finance submitted a report which detailed the Internal Audit Plan for 2020/21.

 

In response to questions from Members regarding the potential impact of Local Government Reform on the Audit Plan, CW Audit, the Council’s internal auditor, advised that there was a resource provision in the plan to assist the Council’s Senior Management Team in reviewing the impact of Local Government Reform, and the mitigation of known and emerging risks.

 

In addressing further questions from the Committee regarding Section 106 Monitoring, the Executive Director – Finance explained that additional resources had been allocated in the Council’s budget for 2020/21 to address specific resourcing needs relating to Section 106 monitoring. 

 

Resolved

 

(1)           That the contents of the 2020/21 internal audit plan from CW Audit Services be noted.

61.

External Audit Update

Verbal update by the Executive Director: Finance (S151 Officer)

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)          That the verbal update be noted.

Minutes:

The Committee received a verbal update from Officers on the External Audit.

 

The Engagement Partner – Ernst & Young, the Council’s External Auditor, advised the Committee that the external audit of the Council’s 2018/19 Accounts had recently been completed, and thanked Officers for their hard work during the process.

 

Resolved

 

(1)           That the verbal update be noted.

62.

Quarterly Performance, Risk and Finance Monitoring Report - December 2019 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Report of Assistant Director: Customers and Corporate Services and Strategic Business Partner (Deputy Section 151 Officer)

 

Purpose of report

 

This report summarises the Council’s Performance, Risk and Finance monitoring position as at the end of each quarter.

 

Recommendations

            

The meeting is recommended:

 

1.1       To note the monthly Performance, Risk and Finance Monitoring Report.

 

1.2       To review the Leadership Risk Register and identify any issues for further consideration.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)       That the monthly Performance, Risk and Finance Monitoring Report be noted.

 

(2)     That, having given due consideration, the Leadership Risk Register be noted and no issues for further consideration be identified.

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report from the Assistant Director – Customers and Corporate Services and the Strategic Business Partner which summarised the Council’s Performance, Risk and Finance monitoring position as at the end of December 2019.

 

In introducing the report, the Assistant Director – Customers and Corporate Services explained that the overall business plan performance measures remained positive, however the “Percentage of Waste Recycled and Composted” category was amber for December 2019 due to disruption over the Christmas period.

 

Resolved

 

(1)        That the monthly Performance, Risk and Finance Monitoring Report be noted.

 

(2)    That, having given due consideration, the Leadership Risk Register be noted and no issues for further consideration be identified.

 

 

63.

Treasury Management Report - Q3 December 2019 pdf icon PDF 145 KB

Report of the Executive Director: Finance (S151 Officer)

 

Purpose of report

 

To receive information on treasury management performance and compliance with treasury management policy for 2019/20 as required by the Treasury Management Code of Practice.

 

Recommendations

            

The meeting is recommended:

 

1.            To note the contents of the Q3 December 2019 Treasury Management Report.

 

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)           That the contents of the Q3 December 2019 Treasury Management Report be noted.

Minutes:

The Executive Director – Finance submitted a report which provided Members with information on Treasury Management performance, and compliance with the Treasury Management Policy for 2019/20 as required by the Treasury Management Code of Practice.

 

The Executive Director – Finance explained that as of December 2019, South Northamptonshire Council had a total of £33.8m of funds invested, however a potential fall in interest rates arising from uncertainty around the Brexit transition period and the global Coronavirus pandemic had increased the likelihood of a negative impact on invested funds in the future.

 

In response to questions from Members regarding financial risks to the Council posed by a fall in interest rates, the Executive Director – Finance advised that whilst the specific impact of interest rate changes on invested funds could not yet be quantified; the identification, monitoring and control of risk was central to the Council’s regular treasury management strategies.

 

Resolved

 

(1)           That the contents of the Q3 December 2019 Treasury Management Report be noted.

64.

Statement of Accounts, Annual Governance Statement 2018/19 and Letter of Representation pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Report of the Executive Director - Finance

 

Purpose of report

 

To ask Members to consider the following: The Statement of Accounts 2018/19; and Letter of Representation 2018/19.

 

Recommendations

            

The committee is recommended to:

 

1.1       Approve the Statement of Accounts 2018/19.

 

1.2       Approve the Letter of Representation 2018/19.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)      That, having given due consideration the Statement of Accounts 2018/19 be approved.

 

(2)          That, having given due consideration the Letter of Representation 2018/19 be approved.

Minutes:

The Executive Director – Finance submitted a report which requested that Members approve the Statement of Accounts for 2018/19 and the Letter of Representation for 2018/19.

 

Resolved

 

(1)      That, having given due consideration the Statement of Accounts 2018/19 be approved.

 

(2)           That, having given due consideration the Letter of Representation 2018/19 be approved.

65.

Exclusion of Press and Public

The following items contain exempt information as defined in the following paragraphs of Part 1, Schedule 12A of Local Government Act 1972.

 

3– Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

 

7 – Information relating to any action taken or to be taken in connection with the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime.

 

Members are reminded that whilst the following items have been marked as exempt, it is for the meeting to decide whether or not to consider each of them in private or in public. In making the decision, members should balance the interests of individuals or the Council itself in having access to the information. In considering their discretion members should also be mindful of the advice of Council Officers.

 

Should Members decide not to make a decision in public, they are recommended to resolve as follows:

 

“That under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following items)of business on the grounds that, if the public and press were present, it would be likely that exempt information falling under the provisions of Schedule 12A, Part I, Paragraphs 3 and 7 would be disclosed to them, and that in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.”

 

 

Minutes:

Resolved

 

That under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item(s) of business on the grounds that, if the public and press were present, it would be likely that exempt information falling under the provisions of Schedule 12A, Part I, Paragraphs 3 and 7 would be disclosed to them, and that in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

 

66.

Treasury Management Report - Exempt Appendix

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)           That the exempt appendix be noted.

Minutes:

Exempt appendix to the report of the Executive Director – Finance which related to Treasury Management performance and compliance for Q3 – December 2019. 

 

Resolved

 

(1)           That the exempt appendix be noted.

67.

Progress of Counter Fraud Service

Exempt Report of the Senior Investigation Officer – Corporate Fraud Team

 

Decision:

Resolved

 

1.             That the exempt report be noted

Minutes:

The Senior Investigating Officer – Corporate Fraud Team submitted an exempt report which provided Members with an overview of the progress to date of the Council’s counter-fraud response following the delegation of authority in July 2018 to Oxford City Council.

 

Members of the Committee asked detailed questions of the report, which were duly answered by Officers.

 

Resolved

 

(1)  That the exempt report be noted.