AUDIT WALES REPORT - PUBLIC SECTOR READINESS FOR NET ZERO CARBON BY 2030
To consider a report that summarises the Audit Wales Report of Public Sector Readiness for Net Zero Carbon by 2030 and provides Officers’ responses to the five Calls for Action (copy attached).
The Chair welcomed Councillor Barry Mellor Lead Member for Environment and Transport along with the Climate Change Programme Manager to the meeting. The report had previously been presented for information to the committee. At that time the committee decided it wanted to receive a formal report for discussion.
The Lead Member for Environment and Transport introduced the report (previously circulated) to members. The report summarised the Audit Wales Report of Public Sector Readiness for Net Zero Carbon by 2030. It provided members with the Officers’ responses to the five Calls for action (appendix2).
He stressed to members the reason for the report was to ensure Members were kept informed of and able to scrutinise observations and actions following an external audit relevant to Denbighshire County Council.
The Climate Change Programme Manager thanked members for the invitation to present the report to members. She reminded members that the Authority had a legislative duty within Wales to meet net zero omissions in Wales by 2050. A specific ambition from that was the Net Carbon Zero Welsh Public Sector by 2030. Since 2021 Welsh Government had requested that all Public Sector Bodies in Wales to report on their carbon omissions annually.
Members heard that Audit Wales had undertaken an in depth review of Denbighshire County Council in December 2020 to June 2021 on this topic, specifically its ability to deliver on its environmental ambitions. The final report was issued in October 2021 and reached the conclusion that the Council was making excellent progress in embedding its environmental ambitions.
Although Audit Wales did not make specific recommendations in their Report of Public Sector Readiness for Net Zero Carbon by 2030 given the high-level nature of their review, the report offered five Calls for Actions for organisations to consider. Members were guided through each as detailed in the report.
She highlighted the usefulness of appendix2 of the Audit Wales report in visualising the legislative and policy framework underpinning decarbonisation.
This report was concerned by decarbonisation only and the public sector readiness to meet that net zero goal.
Gwilym Bury, Audit Wales representative confirmed a piece of work had been conducted by Audit Wales and was a positive report. The key part of the report was the Management Responses and what the authority intended to do in line with the actions.
The Chair thanked the officers for the detailed introduction.
During the debate the following areas were discussed in more detail:
· There were no plans to include omissions from retained social housing stock that of other social housing providers, private rented sector housing and owner occupied housing within the Net Carbon Zero targets. Both for Welsh Government Public Sector targets and local Climate and Ecological Change Strategy Net Zero Council by 2030 target. There was legislative responsibility to reduce carbon from housing.
· Homeworking had started to be measured from 2021/22 data. It was thought, Denbighshire would include that carbon data within the local net zero measurement following the review of the strategy. For the year 2021/22 the omissions from staff homeworking equated to 3.68 tonnes, compared to the carbon omitted by staff commuting to work of 2141 tonnes. Asking employees to work from home did not increase the carbon as much as the saving made from not commuting.
· Audit Wales did a review of Council Housing Stock in 2018. Although the Welsh Housing Equality Standards did not specifically mention carbon targets, it did include energy efficiency targets. The Welsh Government was currently consulting on a new standard to replace the Welsh Housing Equality Standard.
· Each source of omission had a target for 2030, which had been divided by 9 to give an annual target. It was all recorded on Verto and reported annually.
· The budget associated with the Climate and Ecological Change programme it was money for staffing and resourcing. Money was also budget for capital, funded through prudential borrowing. That was currently at £8.38million, the Authority was committed for the first three years of the Strategy. Officers had been successful in drawing down external grants to reduce the borrowing burden on the council.
· Members asked if the Carbon literacy training could be made available for the Lay Members of the authority. There was an e-learning course on Introduction to Climate Change. All employees had been asked to complete this learning. Members asked if an email with training details could be circulated to members.
· The Net Carbon Zero fed into the programme of work across Council, the ability to feed into strategies such as the workforce planning strategy had to be reviewed slightly differently. Each Service had a workforce plan to review the service needs to ensure staff capacity was met to achieve all objectives.
· Officers apologised for the oversight of not including supply chain omissions in the managers’ response on A5. Supply chain omissions were monitored and reviewed and annually reported to Welsh Government. A local target for reduction of 35% of supply chain omissions by 2030 was worked towards.
· The authority did not hold monies to invest in the long term. Investments were on a temporary, short term basis. The funding for this strategy was solely being borrowed.
· There was a new asset management strategy under the approval process currently. It was going through the political process for consultation. Partnership working with third parties was evident such as holding the Coroner’s office in County Hall amongst others. It was hoped future partnership working would take place.
· Officers stressed it was a challenging target by 2030. The targets set were ambitious but officers were exploring every avenue to reduce carbon across the council.
· It was noted that the Council demonstrated Leadership in the adoption of the strategy, Political leadership was demonstrated through the Lead Member and endorsement from all members. The Chief Executive had shown leadership as Strategic Lead for the Climate and Ecological Emergency Response. As an authority a strong commitment was demonstrated to deliver of the strategy.
· Corporate risk 45 was an explicit risk around not meeting the targets set. It was monitored by the corporate risk management methodology.
The Chair thanked the officers for the detailed response to members’ questions.
The Monitoring Officer suggested the committee receive a report on the review of the strategy prior to it being presented to Full Council to provide assurance to member’s concerns.
The Chief Internal Auditor confirmed he had pledged that from April 2023, auditors would ask at every audit what each service area was doing for the carbon reduction initiative.
Members heard an additional annual performance report would be completed. This would include a self-assessment around key governance areas such as this programme.
I. That Members considered the report, the associated five calls to action, the identified need for organisations to be bold and innovative and the statement that the Auditor General will not criticise organisations for taking well-managed risks to address this unprecedented challenge.
II. That Members consider officers’ responses to the five calls to action, providing feedback as appropriate.
III. That members agreed that a communication be circulated to members including the Audit Wales Report and the Managers Responses.
- Word doc-Audit Wales Report- Corp Gov & Audit- 08.03.23, item 5. PDF 127 KB
- Appendix 1 - Public Sector Readiness for Net Zero Carbon by 2030 - Engli..., item 5. PDF 929 KB
- Appendix 2- Management Response template - DCC Public Sector Readiness, item 5. PDF 298 KB