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Agenda and minutes

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Items
No. Item

200.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

None.

201.

Declaration of substitute members

Minutes:

None.

202.

Declarations of interest

If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest* in an item of business:

§  if it is not yet on the council’s register, you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent;

§  you may choose to declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that is already in the register in the interests of openness and transparency. 

In both the above cases, you must leave the room without participating in discussion of the item.

 

If you have a personal interest in an item of business and you intend to speak or vote on the item you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent but you may participate in the discussion and vote on the item.

 

*(a) Employment, etc - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.

(b)   Sponsorship - Any payment or other financial benefit in respect of your expenses in carrying out duties as a member, or of your election; including from a trade union.

(c)   Contracts - Any current contract for goods, services or works, between you or your partner (or a body in which one of you has a beneficial interest) and the council.

(d)   Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the council’s area.

(e)   Licences- Any licence to occupy land in the council’s area for a month or longer.

(f)   Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy between the council and a body in which you or your partner have a beneficial interest.

 (g)   Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body which has a place of business or land in the council’s area, if the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body or of any one class of its issued share capital. 

 

This applies to all members present at the meeting.

 

 

Minutes:

Alan Finch, Independent Member, declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest in the agenda items, insofar as he was an employee of the Local Government Association (LGA) and involved in liaison between the LGA and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Public Sector Appointments Ltd (PSAA).  PSAA had appointed Grant Thornton as auditor to Islington Council.  Mr Finch had had no involvement in the appointment of auditors or in the supervision of audit contracts, which was solely the responsibility of PSAA.  

203.

Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED:

That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2021 be confirmed as a correct record of proceedings and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

204.

Appointments to Pensions Board and Personnel Sub-Committee pdf icon PDF 146 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

(a) That Councillor Michelline Safi-Ngongo be appointed as a substitute member on the Personnel Sub-Committee for the municipal year 2020/21, or until a successor is appointed.

(b) That Councillor Richard Watts be appointed as a member and Chair of the Pensions Board, to replace Councillor Paul Smith, for the municipal year 2020/21, or until a successor is appointed.

 

205.

External Auditor reports pdf icon PDF 140 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair informed all present that, as in previous years, members of the Committee and the Independent Members had met with representatives from Grant Thornton as an opportunity to raise matters arising from their reports in private.

 

Representatives from Grant Thornton presented their Annual Audit Letter for the year ending 31 March 2020 and audit plan for the external audit of the Council and the Pension Fund for 2020/21. The documents provided also included a summary of the changes being implemented in the way the Value for Money audit was performed and a document summarising management responses to the enquiries raised with the Council as part of the audit planning process.

 

A range of questions were asked by members of the Committee, including financial resilience in budget planning, debt collection risk and whether there were any problems associated with the Council’s new income system.  A representative from Grant Thornton confirmed that financial resilience was considered when looking at the budget planning, including the availability of reserves. Debt collection was considered a business risk, rather than an audit risk. The Director of Finance confirmed that the Council’s income system was high quality and would minimise risk.

 

Members also asked whether a full inventory of the Council’s property and assets was yet available. The Committee noted, in response, the explanation that the issues associated with this were complex, but the situation was improving.  Councillor Gill suggested that it might be helpful for him to circulate to members of the Committee a response he had sent to a recent enquirer about the Council’s property register, detailing  assets.

 

 

RESOLVED:

(a) That the summary of the General Enquiries of Management, attached as Appendix 4 to the report of the Corporate Director of Resources, be noted and the External Audit Plan for the Council and Pension Fund for the year ending 31 March 2021, also attached to the report, be approved.

(b) That the Annual Audit Letter and Value for Money slides, attached as Appendices 1 and 2 to the report, be noted.

(c) That it be noted that Grant Thornton would provide a response to members of the Committee on a question raised by Councillor Khurana on a suggested effective date for improvement to journal procedures to minimise risk.

(d) That representatives from Grant Thornton be thanked for their attendance and participation in discussion on this agenda item.

 

 

 

206.

Risk management update - February 2021 pdf icon PDF 193 KB

Minutes:

 

 

 

 

In response to questions from members, it was noted that, given the uncertainty of the ongoing impact of the Covid pandemic into 2021/22, the situation was monitored daily but there had been no significant changes since the information in the report had been produced.  Members would be kept up to date on the situation. The biggest risk to the Council was business rates income not being achieved.

 

RESOLVED:

That the contents of the report of the Corporate Director of Finance, detailing key activity since the last comprehensive Principal Risk Report to Committee in September 2020 and the previous Risk Management Update presented to Committee in January 2021, be noted.

207.

Internal Audit update - February 2021 pdf icon PDF 170 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

That the contents of the report of the Corporate Director of Resources, providing an update on key activity since the Internal Audit

Interim Annual Report, considered by the Committee on 25January 2021, be noted.

208.

Revocation of Exit Payment Regulations pdf icon PDF 145 KB

Minutes:

 

Members discussed the question of whether significant payments made to officers in terms of their employment should be approved by the Audit Committee, or the Personnel Sub-Committee.  It was noted that pension strain could have a significant impact on those payments.

 

It was agreed that all payments in excess of £100k in total (including pension strain and statutory entitlements) should be recorded and reported to a Committee. Councillors Wayne, Khurana and Gallagher would meet to discuss the precise mechanism and to review generally how the Personnel Sub-Committee was working and its relationship to the parent Audit Committee.

 

In addition, Councillor Wayne suggested that it would be useful for the Chairs of the Personnel and Pensions Sub-Committees to submit an annual report to the Audit Committee to provide overarching supervision.

 

RESOLVED:

(a) That the revocation of the Restriction of Public Sector Exit Payments Regulations 2020, detailed in the report of the Corporate Director of Resources, be noted.

(b) That it be noted that any decisions relating to enacting the new provisions during the period since the Cap was introduced were no longer relevant and changes to the Council’s redundancy procedures to allow that flexibility were not required

(c) That it be noted that the Council was complying with the HMT Directions in ensuring that affected staff received all sums that had not, or would not, have been paid as a result of the application of the 2020 Regulations

(d) That it be noted that Councillor Wayne would meet with Councillors Khurana and Gallagher to discuss the mechanism for approval and reporting of exit payments.

209.

Whistleblowing report - 1 April 2020 to 31 January 2021 pdf icon PDF 344 KB

Minutes:

 

 

The Committee noted that a comprehensive guidance note had been produced for Council managers in the past year setting out how complaints should be handled, including the differentiation between whistleblowing complaints and workplace complaints.

 

RESOLVED:

That the contents of the report of the Corporate Director of Resources, providing details of whistleblowing referrals made between 1 April 2020 and 31January 2021, be noted.

210.

Exclusion of press and public

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED:

That the press and public be excluded during consideration of the following items as the presence of members of the public and press would result in the disclosure of exempt information within the terms of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, for the reasons indicated:

 

 

 

Agenda item E1

Title

Reasons for exemption

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agenda item E2

Whistleblowing report - 1 April 2020 to 31 January 2021 - exempt appendix

 

Revocation of Exit Payment Regulations - exempt appendix

 

 

 

Categories 1,2 and 7–

 

 

 

 

Categories 1 and 2

 

 

211.

Whistleblowing report - 1 April 2020 to 31 January 2021 - exempt appendix

Minutes:

The Committee thanked officers from Environment and Regeneration for their attendance at  this meeting and for their responses to issued raised by members around particular complaints concerning the Parking Service.

 

RESOLVED:

That the contents of the exempt appendix be noted.

212.

Revocation of Exit Payment Regulations - exempt appendix

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

That the contents of the exempt appendix be noted.

 

213.

Any other business

Minutes:

Noting that this would be the final meeting at Islington Council for Sarah Burston, the Council’s Risk Manager, the Chair, on behalf of the Committee, thanked her for all of her valuable work and wished her well for the future.