INTERNAL AUDIT UPDATE
To consider a report by the Head of Internal Audit (copy enclosed) updating members on Internal Audit progress.
The Chief Internal Auditor (CIA) introduced the report (previously circulated). Members were updated on the Internal Audit Team’s progress in terms of its service delivery, assurance provision, reviews completed, performance and effectiveness in driving improvement.
The report provided information on work carried out by Internal Audit since the last committee meeting. It allowed the committee to monitor Internal Audit’s performance and progress as well as providing summaries of Internal Audit reports.
Confirmation that 7 Audits had been completed since the last committee meeting in April, none of which received a low assurance rating. Five of the
reviews had been awarded a high or medium assurance rating, one review an
assurance rating was not required as it was a process review and the last
review was completed for Rhuddlan Town Council. Summaries were included for information on 6 of the reviews completed, the review completed on behalf of Rhuddlan Town Council had not been included. The reason this audit had taken place was due to the Town Council being unable to recruit anyone to complete an audit of the accounts and requesting the authority’s assistance. It was stressed the importance of auditing City, Town and Community Accounts correctly in the event of any being called in by Audit Wales.
Members heard that since the last meeting he had met with the Chief Executive which concluded in the form changing slightly. A review of the information that was presented to CET, member briefing and SLT resulted in the change to the format of the form.
Members were guided through the table which provided details of the reports completed from the external regulators. Members were provided with details of the report status and links to access any papers.
Details of Audit Wales reports due to take place in 2023/24 had been included for reference. The table was currently empty as those reviews were ongoing, they start at various times throughout the year. As the reports are presented to the Chief Internal Auditor that table would be populated with the relevant information.
The second table in the report provided members with information on the National Wales Audit Office reports that are due to be undertaken in 2023/24. These reports would be carried out across the 22 Local Authorities across Wales. Once each review was completed an overall opinion would be created and issued to each authority detailing the good and bad practices.
The third table Local Government national studies planned/in progress was slightly different, the review was conducted against the 22 Welsh Authorities but it would only look at a sample of data from certain authorities.
Details of Estyn reviews and outcomes had been provided for member’s information along with and CIW or other reviews. These would be updated when further information was received.
The Chief Internal Auditor was pleased to say the audit department was now at full capacity. The team was still in it’s infancy with 3 officers training and sitting audit examinations to become qualified.
The Internal Audit forward work programme had been provided for member’s information. It detailed work intended to be carried out and any outcomes of reviews completed.
The Chief Internal Auditor was pleased with the current level of performance of the team. Further work over the summer recess to look at the standards was hoped for.
The Chair thanked the Chief Internal Officer for the detailed introduction.
During the discussion –
· Members were pleased to note the number of staff on the career pathways had doubled. It was pleasing to hear the audit department was at full capacity.
· Members suggested the audit due to commence shortly on Partnership arrangements, be applied to a Council wide definition of partnership. It was felt it was important to clearly state what was included in that work and what was not.
· Councillor Arwel Roberts thanked the audit department for the work completed on behalf of Rhuddlan Town Council.
· Often the issue in relation to DBS checks was due to applications taking longer to be processed. The Audit team were satisfied if schools could demonstrate a process that was in place for the interim.
· The Chief Internal Auditor hoped ICT would be able to recover the 13% of assets not reclaimed from leavers. The issue had been raised with the service and it was hoped it would be addressed over the next 12 months.
· The Internal Audit forward work plan was produced annually in the hope to complete as much of the intended work as possible. Often a number of audits are rolled over to the following year due to any additional work some areas require or any additional work placed on the audit team, such as special investigations. It was hoped that between 50-60% of the plan would be completed as a minimum this year with that increasing over the following years.
· Concerns around the workforce planning review were raised. Members raised concern in the potential difficulty in how the authority define medium assurance and how it was allocated to certain audits completed mainly the Workforce Planning review. The Chief Internal Auditor stated the Workforce Planning review was around 5 areas/ actions previously identified by HR. As part of the audit review those five areas were concentrated on and identified how much progress against the actions had been completed by HR. Although a few areas was yet to be completed, progress on a number of areas had been completed and work was ongoing with the outstanding actions. It was noted a number of key Corporate roles had been recruited for and appointed in the time which had impacted the team’s ability to complete the actions in the time frame. It was also stressed two key members of the staffing team had left which had also impacted the ability to complete actions agreed. Internal Audit reviewed the recruitment and selection policy and sought further information included in that policy. The overall assurance rating awarded had been a medium assurance. 2 moderate issues were put in place. Members were assured a follow up review would be conducted. The Chair also raised concern that not enough reference was made to retention issues in the policy. He was pleased to say HR officers had acknowledged this concern at the Performance Scrutiny meeting.
· Assurance ratings were awarded based on a common understanding across Wales.
· Members suggested if they had particular concerns regarding a particular audits or assurance ratings, meetings could be arranged with Internal Audit. The Chief Internal Auditor was happy to arrange meetings offline for areas of concern.
· Members stressed the importance of up to date data being used for reports.
· Training of 1-day release was provided for team members to attend college.
· Work on whistleblowing was increasing, communication between the Monitoring Officer and Chief Internal Auditor and any investigators to review each case would continue. During those discussions it was identified who was best placed to investigate any whistleblowing claims. As soon as a claim is made, officers gather information and review the best way forward. The Chief Internal Auditor was consulted on all cases raised.
· Officers agreed recruitment and retention had an impact on the safeguarding risk. It was currently elevated to the highest level of risk in the Corporate Risk Register and was being monitored closely by CET. HR continued to do all possible to recruit and retain staff.
· Audits of City, Town and Community Councils fall under Audit Wales Office. Audit Wales have over recent years taken a proactive approach of requesting accounts to prevent any fraudulent activity. The Audit Wales representative Mike Whiteley confirmed Audit Wales was undertaking reviews of City, Town and Community Councils over a three-year period. The results of those reviews would be presented back to each individual council.
RESOLVED that, members note the Internal Audit’s progress and performance and members contact the Chief Internal Auditor regarding any concerns on audit reviews such as Workforce Planning to discuss in detail outside of the meeting.
- Council & Committee Report - Internal Audit Update - July 2023, item 7. PDF 126 KB
- Appendix 1 - Internal Audit Update July 2023, item 7. PDF 563 KB