Venue: Civic Centre, Glebe Street, Stoke-on-Trent
Contact: John MillsÂ Democratic Services OfficerItems No. Item
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Salih, Edwards, James and Kent-Baguley.
Declarations of Interest (If Any)
To provide an opportunity for Members/Officers to declare a personal or prejudicial interest in any matter on the agenda
No declarations of interest were submitted.
To authorise the signature of the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee, held on 30 September 2009
The Committee received a report which provided a summary of the activities of Internal Audit for second quarter of 2009/10, covering the period 6 July to 16 October 2009. During this quarter the work of Internal Audit had resulted in the issue of 42 reports which included 254 recommendations.
Â At the time of writing the report 97% of acceptances had been received in respect of thirty nine reports and subsequent to that further acceptances had been received taking this to 100%.
The revised reporting framework had resulted in improved response times from Managers and survey results currently demonstrate that clients scored the service they received as either very good or excellent.
The Committee were advised that it was essential members were kept informed of their developing capability to manage risk. This was particularly important for the Audit Committee as it has the responsibility for ensuring that the Council had effective risk management arrangements in place.
All members need a basic understanding of risk management to aid better decision making and the Audit Commission expects to see evidence of member awareness ofÂ this in its various inspection regimes.
The report covered the management of risk activity between the 1 July 2009 and 30 September 2009, and gave details of member training provided, programme and project risk training and attendance, as required, at departmental management teams. Current and planned activity included management of risk policy, strategic risk register and operational risk registers.
The Committee received a report which provided details of Treasury Management performance and decisions taken for the period 1 April to 30 September 2009.Â The Council are required to set prudential indicators each year in respect of its treasury management activities, and these were approved at the City Council meeting on 26 February 2009. The most important of these was the â€˜Authorised Limitâ€™, which represents the maximum level of external borrowing which should not be exceeded.Â Â This was not expected to be breached in the current financial year.
The City Council has not entered into any new borrowing agreements in 2009/10 and it was not anticipated that borrowing would increase in 2009/10 although this decision would be partly dependant on prevailing market conditions.
Investment interest generated during the first six months of the year to support the provision of front line services amounted to Â£198,000, with all investments complying with the treasury policy statement. The financial markets have been subjected to unprecedented levels of turmoil epitomised by both dramatic changes in interest rates, now standing at 0.5%, and a shrinking market with less institutions in which the Council can invest safely.
The Bank of England base rate has stood at 0.5% since the start of the year and is forecast to stay at this historically low level until mid way through 2010.Â Assuming the predicted trends are correct this will have a significant impact on the interest return the Council can expect in its medium term financial strategy. Interest income is only expected to return about Â£450,000 for the City Council (which excludes the Education Private Finance Initiative bond interest of Â£468,000)
The City Councilâ€™s returns on its investments continue to exceed the average benchmark in the future this will be subject to both counterparty and interest rate risk. The Council still has Â£5m of frozen investments with the Icelandic Bank, Landsbanki, and the Council was continuing its efforts to ensure this money is recovered. Current information indicates that at least 83% of the outstanding amount will be returned.
The Committee considered the Work Plan and made the following comments:
Review of Grant Claims - This was addressed in the District Auditorâ€™s report on 30 March 2009. These claims were mainly submitted annually and the report would be submitted at the appropriate time in 2010.
Treasury Management - The Committee had already received the Annual Strategy and six monthly monitoring report.Â These would be submitted in future as required.
Asset Management - This item is to be deleted from the work plan.
School Balances Surveys - This would be reported to a future meeting of the Children and Young Peoples Overview and Scrutiny Committee.Â The District Auditor commented that there was information relating to this on their web site if members wished to consider it.
Housing Revenue Account - Â Certain service reviews relating to the HRA were still outstanding. Â Progress reports would be submitted at the appropriate time.
Monitoring of grants to the Voluntary and Community Sector - The target date for this report was the January 2010 meeting.
International Financial Reporting Systems (IFRS) - This should read International Financial Reporting Standards.