Councillors and committees

Agenda and minutes

You can view the individual reports for this meeting by selecting the headings from the numbered list of items at the bottom of this page. Alternatively you can view the entire agenda by selecting 'Agenda Reports Pack' below.

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Venue: Kingston College, Kingston Hall Rd, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2AQ

Contact: Ann Sweeney , tel 020 8547 4629  email:  ann.sweeney@kingston.gov.uk

Note: Committee Rooms A and B - First Floor, 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

Minutes:

Councillor Patricia Bamford attended as a substitute for Councillor Caroline Kerr and apologies were received from Councillor Jaesung Ha.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 2 May 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 2 May 2019 were confirmed and signed.

4.

Statement of Accounts and Audit 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 131 KB

To review the outcome of the Audit of Accounts and Pension Fund Accounts for 2018/19 and approve the audited accounts for publication.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the Council’s Statement of Accounts for 2018/19 with accompanying narrative report from the Director of Corporate and Commercial, the Section 151 Officer, which set out the key features of the accounts including performance against budget. Members also received a presentation from the Council’s external auditors, Grant Thornton which set out the details of their audit of the Statement of Accounts and Pension Fund Accounts together with their Value for Money conclusion.

 

Members noted that the external auditors were not in a position to complete their audit work by the 31 July deadline due partly to an ethical matter within Grant Thornton relating to their work with the Council. It was emphasised that this did not reflect on the Council or its activities and it was anticipated that an unqualified audit opinion would be issued in respect of both sets of accounts.

 

Achievement of the very tight timetable for the publication of the audited Statement of Accounts had also been affected by uncertainty over legal action in respect of pension scheme obligations arising from a recent Court of Appeal judgment, clarification of the reporting of the Dedicated Schools Grant negative reserves position and the need to undertake more work in respect of IAS19 pensions liabilities and revaluation of property plant and equipment as now required for all local government audits.

 

The Committee was informed that the accounts would be published without the audit opinion in the meantime. A statement containing the reasons for this would be published as required. Officers were supporting the auditors to ensure all outstanding queries were answered as quickly as possible and minimise the delay.

 

Members noted that the Auditors had completed a risk based review of the Council’s value for money arrangements and anticipated issuing an unqualified conclusion, meaning that it was considered that the Council had proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources. The Auditors informed the Committee that 2018/19 had been a watershed year with much work done which would enable the Council to move forward on a stable footing. The overall direction of travel was positive, though it was noted that the balanced budget set for 2019/20 contained a significant level of risk and would require effective monitoring over the year and rapid, effective action to mitigate any overspends.

 

Significant findings discussed with management included the deficit in the Dedicated Schools Grant budget, the valuation of the Council’s land and property and the net pension liability. The Auditors informed the Committee that they were content the accounts properly reflected the outturn position in respect of the Dedicated Schools Grant, including one off income of £4m which would not be available in 2019/20.

 

Risks identified in the Audit Plan and the Auditor commentary on these were presented but no matters had been identified which required reporting.

 

Managements’ use of the ‘going concern’ assumption in presenting financial statements had also been examined.  The view on forecasts to deliver services in the next 12 months and to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Annual Governance Statement 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 121 KB

To consider for approval and subsequent sign off by the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive, the Council’s Annual Governance Statement for the year 2018/19.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to approval of the Annual Governance Statement (AGS) for 2018/19.

The AGS was an honest self-assessment of the organisation’s performance across all of its activities with a statement of actions being taken or to be taken to address areas of concern or for improvement. The draft AGS had been published with the Councils financial statements on 31 May 2019 in line with statutory requirements.

An assessment of the Councils activities had been conducted throughout April and May 2019 to confirm that the Council had effective corporate governance arrangements in place and to identify any areas of relative weakness where improvements can be made. This included a review of the Council’s Code of Corporate Governance.

The assessment showed that services generally had robust governance arrangements in place. There were some areas where improvements were required. These included actions remaining outstanding in the 2018/19 AGS Action Plan, and new issues as detailed in paragraph 7, Tables 1 and 2 of the agenda report. These would be addressed in the 2018/19 AGS Action Plan which was due to be submitted to the Committee for approval in October 2019.

Members also noted revisions to the AGS process designed to ensure more robust engagement with senior officers Council-wide.  The key tasks included

·         Review and update of the Code of Corporate Governance

·         Follow up of AGS Action Plan items

·         Review of compliance against CIPFA SOLACE guidelines

·         Self assessments by Departmental Management Teams (DMT) covering key areas of control and more detailed discussions at DMT meetings to identify both corporate and service issues

·         Meetings with key Officers (including statutory Officers) to discuss significant issues raised by DMTs; and

·         Discussion and agreement of the draft AGS with the Strategic Leadership Team

Resolved that -

1.            in response to the requirement for a local authority to have in place proper arrangements for the governance of its affairs and to undertake an annual open and honest assessment of its governance framework, it be noted that the Council has undertaken and agreed an assessment of the Council’s corporate governance arrangements;

2.            the Annual Governance Statement 2018/19 (Annex 1 to the agenda report) be approved for formal sign off by the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive; and

3.            It be noted that an Action Plan to address the improvement areas identified through the Annual Governance Statement process will be submitted to the Committee’s October meeting for approval.

Voting – Unanimous

Recorded Vote
TitleTypeRecorded Vote textResult
Annual Governance Statement 2018/19 Motion Carried
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  • 6.

    Corporate Risk Register and Risk Monitoring pdf icon PDF 56 KB

    To provide the Committee with an update on high priority risks identified by directorate management teams, mitigating action being taken, and on the arrangements for further dissemination of risks to relevant Strategic Committees.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Committee received details of the high priority risks identified by directorate management teams and mitigating action being taken.

     

    Members noted that a total of 18 risks had been identified which could have an impact on the functioning of the Council as a whole. This included three added since the last quarterly review, namely climate emergency, development management and governance. There were two risks flagged as red, relating to escalating school placement costs for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities and for children in care and leaving care, both due to increases in demand and/or placement costs.

     

    In response to questions from Members it was noted that robust mitigation measures were in place around the risk of failure to deliver the necessary savings and transformation plans for 2019/20. IT security had not been identified as a corporate high priority risk.

     

    New arrangements for the reporting of risks both to this Committee and each of the Strategic Committees were also approved.

     

    Resolved that

     

    1.    The updated risks and actions be noted:

    2.    New arrangements for reporting to Committee commence whereby :

    a.    The corporate risk register will be reviewed at this Committee every six months;

    b.    Corporate risks relevant to the portfolio of each of the Strategic Committees will be provided to them every six months

    c.    Any high risks emerging in the intervening time will be flagged to the Committee members

    3.    The Strategic Leadership Team review the risk register on a quarterly basis; and

    4.    It be noted that a risk management framework is in place.

     

    Voting – unanimous

     

     

    Recorded Vote
    TitleTypeRecorded Vote textResult
    Corporate Risk Register and Risk Monitoring Motion Carried
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  • 7.

    Treasury Management Annual Report 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 118 KB

    To inform the Committee of the Council’s Treasury Management activities and

    performance for 2018 -19.

    Minutes:

    The Committee received details of the Council’s Treasury Management activities and performance in 2018-19.

     

    The report before the Committee set out the economic background, summarised borrowing and investment activity, provided an update on credit and counterparty risk and addressed compliance with treasury management indicators.

     

    It was noted that the Council’s debt management strategy continued to be prudent while maintaining long term stability of the debt portfolio. The Council’s specific objective was to achieve the lowest level of interest paid on its debt as prudently as possible while minimising the potential volatility of the average rate of interest. The Council’s underlying need to borrow at 1 April 2018 was £338m but it maintained an ‘under borrowed’ position as the ‘cost of carry’ was significant. The Council’s internal reserves were therefore used in lieu of external borrowing. This minimised borrowing costs and reduce overall treasury risk by reducing both external debt and cash investments. The external debt balance at 31 March 2019 was £300.04m.  During the year the average rate of interest pad was 4% (£10.9m of interest paid)

     

    Investment of the Council’s cash balances was governed by Guidance on Local Government investments issued by the CLG. The key intention of this was to ensure that Council’s invested prudently and that priority was given first of all to security (protecting the investment from loss) and then liquidity (keeping the money readily available for expenditure when needed) before yield. During the year investments totalling £410m were placed and the total sum of maturities was £409m. The amount of deposits outstanding at 31 March 2019 was £35.6m. The Council had maintained an average investment balance of £45.3m and earned an average rate of return of 0.82% (£370,000 of interest receivable). This was 0.317% above the target rate (equivalent to £143,000).

    It was noted that all of the treasury management indicators, designed to reduce the risk or likelihood of an adverse movement in interest rates or borrowing decisions impacting negatively on the Council’s overall financial position, had been complied with.

     

     

    8.

    Review of the Code of Corporate Governance pdf icon PDF 77 KB

    To consider the revised local Code of Corporate Governance

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Committee reviewed the Council’s Local Code of Governance in accordance with the requirement to do so every two years.

     

    The Code, which formed part of the Annual Governance Statement process, demonstrated the Council’s commitment to good governance and reflected the core principles and requirements of the CIPFA/SOLACE framework: Delivering Good Governance in Local Government. It was noted that the format of the Code had been simplified in line with best practice and to establish links to key documents. Monitoring of compliance with the Code took place through the Governance Assurance Framework.

     

    Resolved that the Council’s revised Local Code of Governance 2019 attached as Annex 1 to the report be approved and the document revised again in two year’s time.

     

    Voting – Unanimous

    Recorded Vote
    TitleTypeRecorded Vote textResult
    Review of the Code of Corporate Governance Motion Carried
  • View Recorded Vote for this item
  • 9.

    Annual Internal Audit and Fraud Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 91 KB

    To note the Annual Internal Audit and Fraud Report

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Committee received the Internal Audit and Fraud report for 2018/19.

     

    Members noted that a total of 27 reports has been issued or were at draft stage with 83% of the planned audit assignments being completed by 31 March. A large part of the first quarter had been used to complete old year work which impacted on delivery of the plan. Changes to the organisational structure and in senior management also resulted in the delay of some audit work.  Management responses to reports issued in the year had been positive.

     

    During the course of the year the Internal Audit Service had achieved:

     

    ·         Delivery of 105% of the Audit Plan Days

    ·         100% client satisfaction for audit work

    ·         A saving against the agreed budget for Kingston of £13,000

    ·         A review of the structure and recruitment of two Audit apprentices

    ·         A projected saving for 2019/20 of 1.6%

    ·         Increased usage of Galileo audit software across the Partnership to ensure greater consistency in audit approach and methodology

     

    The Committee was informed that a Peer Review undertaken against the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards in June 2018 had demonstrated substantial compliance. A self-assessment had been completed in May 2019 and areas where action was required to improve systems and processes included within a Quality Action Improvement Plan. Progress against this would be monitored by the Shared Service Board which oversaw the Internal Audit Shared Service.

     

    The Head of the South West London Audit Partnership and Statutory Head of Internal Audit for the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames had, as required, provided the Council with an opinion on the adequacy and effectiveness of the internal control environment. In her opinion the Council had an adequate and effective control process to manage the achievement of its objectivesThis opinion was, however, caveated in respect of the key issues set out in section 2 of the report.

     

    Resolved that the Internal Audit and Fraud Report (the review of performance for the past year) summarising some highlights from the Service’s work in 2018/19 as set out at Annex 1 to the agenda report be noted.

    Voting – Unanimous

     

     

    Recorded Vote
    TitleTypeRecorded Vote textResult
    Annual Internal Audit and Fraud Report 2018/19 Motion Carried
  • View Recorded Vote for this item
  • 10.

    Anti Fraud & Anti Corruption Strategy Review pdf icon PDF 72 KB

    To review the Council’s Anti-Fraud and Anti-Corruption Strategy.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Committee gave consideration to the adoption of a revised Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy. While no major changes were proposed the Strategy had been separated from the Anti Fraud Framework to make future reviews of the document more straightforward.

    Members noted that the Strategy formed an important part of the Council’s governance arguments and as designed to help maximise the application of approved resources to meet genuine service needs and to minimise irrecoverable losses. It sought to enhance public confidence and bring to justice those who committed acts of fraud or corruption against the Council. The Strategy was underpinned by a toolkit of policies and procedures which included the Staff Disciplinary Code and Whistleblowing Policy which were reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they supported the Strategy and the Council’s objectives.

     

    Resolved that -

    1.            the revised Anti-Fraud and Anti-Corruption Strategy set out in Annex 1 of the report be approved; and

    2.            its principles be commended to school governing bodies, and where appropriate to other stakeholders, including partnerships, arm- length organisations, and to contractors.

    Voting – Unanimous

    Recorded Vote
    TitleTypeRecorded Vote textResult
    Anti Fraud and Corruption Strategy Review Motion Carried
  • View Recorded Vote for this item
  • 11.

    Member Code of Conduct Annual Report pdf icon PDF 139 KB

    To report a summary of the Code of Conducts complaints received

    by the Council’s Monitoring Officer during 2017 & 2018, recommend the renewal of the appointment of the Independent Persons and provide a briefing on the recent Report of the Committee on Standards in

    Public Life.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Committee received details of Code of Conduct complaints against Members during 2017, 2018 and 2019 to date, and noted the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s report on ethical standards in local government.

     

    Members noted that eight Code of Conduct complaints had been submitted to the Monitoring Officer in 2017 and nine in 2019 with 11 already in 2019 to date. These tended to be broadly either complaints by Members against a Member of a different group or complaints by members of the public. One individual had submitted four of the complaints in 2019. All of the complaints resolved to date had been rejected by the Monitoring Officer, in consultation with the Independent Person at the preliminary stage.

     

    In the light of some delay in the processing of complaints new procedures had been put in place to improve efficiency, including the appointment of a second Deputy Monitoring Officer. The Monitoring Officer was also currently conducting a review of the Code of Conduct Procedure with a view to improving the resolution arrangements and to provide clarity. A further report would be submitted to the next meeting of the Committee, in October.

     

    The Committee also agreed that the current Independent Persons, Damien Quinn and Andy Elmer, should be reappointed for a further five year term of office.

     

    Resolved that -

    1.            the contents of the agenda report be noted;

    2.            the existing appointment of the Independent Persons be continued to 1st March 2024; and

    3.            the recommendations in the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life be noted

    Voting – Unanimous

    Recorded Vote
    TitleTypeRecorded Vote textResult
    Member Code of Conduct Annual Report Motion Carried
  • View Recorded Vote for this item
  • 12.

    Urgent Items

    Minutes:

    There were no urgent items.