Agenda item

Joint Annual Governance Statement

Report of the Director of Strategy, Governance and Change and Director of Finance and Resources.

Minutes:

The Chief Internal Auditor discussed the Annual Governance Statement prepared in line with guidance issued by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE) which detailed what the Committee was responsible for, the aim of the governance framework, the governance framework itself, the review of how effective the governance framework was and to highlight any significant governance issues. The document was required on an annual basis.

 

Section three of the report detailed the systems, policies, procedures and operations in place to ensure an effective governance framework. The report detailed the review undertaken to ensure that effective governance was operational.  Actions contained within the 2014/15 Statement were outlined within the report and the annex to the report contains there actions taken. An unqualified annual audit letter for 2014/15 had been received and the outturn report from internal audit had been received which gave an adequate opinion. Other reasons to have confidence that there was effective governance in place included; no issues having been reported through to the Monitoring Officer or the Chief Financial Officer under their official powers, effective scrutiny in place through the Select Committees, appropriate action plans implemented to strengthen controls, the risk register continued to be revised as the operating model continued to develop and a low number of complaints. Significant governance issues highlighted for 2015/16 would be taken forward by the officer Corporate Governance Working Group included seven key pieces of work as detailed within the report. These significant issues would be monitored by the Group and where appropriate included in the Strategic Risk Register.

 

Whilst the work in respect of governance arrangements was praised there remained a concern that there are risks in the number of decisions that are taken by individual Cabinet members as opposed to all the information being made available to and the decision being made by the full Cabinet.   This was a concern raised previously by Corporate Review but remained a concern to date.

 

The Director of Finance and Resources explained that the rational behind

Delegated decisions was about being more effective and efficient in decision

making. In addition to matters that are delegated to each Cabinet member

there are occasions when a collective decision of the whole Cabinet was

required in respect of overarching direction and intent but for reasons of

effective and efficient decision making the detail  in respect of that decision is

considered and the decision made by the  appropriate Cabinet Member. This

was in accordance with the County Council’s arrangements which were

consistent with good practice guidance.

 

Whilst there are, in addition, informal ways that decisions are discussed by all Cabinet members the concerns for individual Cabinet members remained using the issues around the Better Care Fund (BCF) as an example.

 

Concerns were also raised in respect of the quantity and complexity of the issues that the County Council needed to respond to within limited resources, particularly time.

 

The Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) in respect of how local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) could spend NHS money was one example but there are many others.

 

Resolved: That the

·         Audit and Standards Committee approve the Annual Governance Statement.

·         Chairman of the Audit and Standards Committee write to the Leader of the Council regarding the Committee’s concerns in relation to delegating decisions to one Cabinet Member, in particular making reference to recommendations made previously by Corporate Review and concerns regarding  the BCF.

 

Supporting documents: