Agenda and draft minutes

Audit and Standards Committee - Tuesday, 16th January, 2024 6.30 pm

Venue: Parkside, Station Approach, Burton Street, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire LE13 1GH

Contact: Democratic Services  01664 502579


No. Item


Apologies for Absence


There were no apologies for absence.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 231 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 28 November 2023.


The minutes of the meeting held on 28 November 2023 were approved.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Members to declare any interest as appropriate, in respect of items to be considered at this meeting.


Item 4 – Internal Audit Progress Report


During discussion on the Council’s enforcement responsibilities in relation to private sector housing, Councillor Higgins advised that he was a private sector housing landlord.



The Chair advised that the Committee would consider agenda item 4 - Internal Audit Progress Report last, due to exempt Appendix B and the possibility of needing to enter private session if Members wished to discuss the exempt appendix.


Counter Fraud Update pdf icon PDF 177 KB

The Chief Internal Auditor to submit a report providing Members with an update on the Council’s counter fraud activity.


Rachel Ashley-Caunt, Chief Internal Auditor introduced the report, the purpose of which was to provide the Committee with an update on the Council’s counter fraud activity.


Ms Ashley-Caunt provided a brief overview of the Council’s counter fraud work over the past 6 months:

·       Preventative work - This was proactive work, undertaken to strengthen the Council’s counter fraud controls.  It included a review of policies, as approved by this Committee at the last meeting (on 28 November 2023), the completion of Fraud Awareness Training for staff, participation in Fraud Awareness Week in November 2023 (which was an opportunity to raise awareness of risks and training) and the All Staff Briefing (as part of Fraud Awareness Week).

·       Detective work - This involved identifying areas of potential fraud or corruption, looking for potential data matches, particularly through the National Fraud Initiative exercise (Internal Audit was currently working through those matches) and an additional pilot exercise last year, which was in relation to social housing fraud.

·       Compliance work – This looked at Assurance opinions and effective fraud controls.  The Council maintained its Fraud Risk Register, which provided some sources of assurance around key risks and had audit work on council tax and business rates exemptions within the Audit Plan (agenda item 4 - Internal Progress Report), giving some assurance of compliance with those controls in practice.


During discussion the following points were noted:


·       Members thanked the Chief Internal Auditor for her work.

·       In response to a question from the Chair on identifying fraud within the administration of grants from the UK SPF, the Chief Internal Auditor confirmed that there was an allocation of days for UK SPF work within this year’s Audit Plan.  This would include a wider coverage on how the programme was managed, including some assurances around administering grants and the controls in place etc.

·       The outcome of the UK SPF audit would be reported to the Committee later this year.

·       The Chair commented that there were various counter fraud measures that grant applications were subject to prior to approval.  He took the opportunity to thank the Assistant Director for Regeneration and UK SPF and his team for their work.

·       In relation to other financial assistance schemes administered by the Council, which could be abused, the Chief Internal Auditor advised that the Supporting Vulnerable People audit, as detailed in the Internal Audit Progress Report (agenda item 4) referred to some assurances given around assistance programs for those requiring additional support.  It was important to administer these schemes in a consistent manner and sufficiently evidence on how this had been undertaken.

·       In relation to a Member question on the ‘cleansing of tenancy data’ referred to at paragraph 5(f) of the report, the Chief Internal Auditor advised that this had been a new and interesting exercise, which the Council had expressed an interest in participating in.  It had involved matching tenancy records to other sources of data from other areas of the public sector and the Financial Regulation Authority to link people to properties.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.


Internal Audit Progress Report pdf icon PDF 173 KB

The Chief Internal Auditor to submit a report updating Members on the delivery of the 2023/24 Internal Audit Plan.

Additional documents:


Rachel Ashley-Caunt, Chief Internal Auditor introduced the report, the purpose of which was to update Members on progress made by Internal Audit on plan delivery and outcome of assignments.


The Chair highlighted that appendix B was exempt and that any discussion on this appendix would need to take place in private session.


Ms Ashley-Caunt drew Members attention to appendix 1 of appendix A (Internal Audit Plan), which detailed a list of audits due to be delivered this year and their current status.  3 audits had been finalised (Environmental Health, Supporting Vulnerable People and Leisure Contract Management). 

·       Environmental Health – The record keeping in this area was not sufficiently robust.  Internal Audit was unable to conduct sample testing on compliance because they were unable to obtain a report of all complaints over the last 12 months, due to there being no central case management system in place.  There was also a lack of certain documented procedures and delegations, preventing assurance that consistent processes were being applied and how those had been recorded for staff.  A moderate assurance opinion over the control environment and compliance and a medium organisational risk had been issued.

·       Supporting Vulnerable People – Internal Audit had noted some good areas of working (the integrated people offer, good record keeping, good collaboration both with voluntary organisations and with other public sector bodies).  The recommendations made were around needing a service plan to coordinate and join different areas, the good work undertaken and publishing the local community trigger data, which was a requirement under the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing act.  A good assurance opinion over the control environment and moderate over the compliance had been issued.

·       Leisure Contract Management – There was a lack of performance management mechanisms in place.  Recommendations were over incorporating specific performance targets into the new contract from April 2024 onwards and formalisation around site inspections, as although these had been taking place Internal Audit did not obtain documentation of what was checked during the visits and what the outcomes were.  A moderate assurance opinion over the control environment and compliance and a medium organisational risk had been issued.


Concerning the implementation of audit recommendations.  7 audit recommendations had been completed and closed since the last meeting of this Committee in November.  36 recommendations remained overdue.  Of those overdue, four were high priority and over three months overdue:

         Effectiveness of Case Management Arrangements 2019/20

         Housing Repairs 2020/21

         Business Continuity Management 2022/23.

         Exempt Recommendation (appendix B)


These were detailed at appendix 3 of appendix A and appendix B.


Ms Ashley-Caunt concluded by highlighting the additional recommendation at paragraph 2.2 of the report to remove the audit of the Asset Development Plan, which would be deferred to 2024/25 and replace with assurance over procurement compliance.


Members thanked the Chief Internal Auditor for her work.


Concerning logging environmental health complaints and enforcement cases not being robust, a Member asked if this was a new problem, due to the many changes in management personnel or  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.


Urgent Business

To consider any other items that the Chair considers urgent.


There was no urgent business.