To receive and consider the report of the Head of Audit and Risk.
The Head of Audit and Risk presented the report which summarised the work of the audit team between April and September 2023.
The Committee’s attention was drawn to the inclusion of, at the request of the Chair, all finalised internal audit reports and not just those that had been awarded a limited assurance rating to promote openness and transparency.
One report had been awarded a limited assurance rating which related to debt collection of sundry debtors. However, it was noted that with it being a narrow scope of work, a full review of the entire process may have resulted in a different overall assurance rating. The findings identified that adequate controls were in place, however they had not been operating effectively. As it was not anticipated to take long to reinstate the control measures a short timescale for this had been agreed.
As some audit resource had been lost in recent months following the departure of a member of staff in the team the work programme had been reviewed and taking into consideration knowledge of systems, other sources of assurance and level of associated risk the two reviews suggested for deferral relate to capita migration and cemetery management. If deferral is approved, both areas would be considered when the next audit plan is developed.
Members were pleased to note the Internal Audit Service had fully conformed with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards following a recent peer review and self-assessment exercise, with only some minor process improvements to implement over the next few months.
Members highlighted the amount currently at debt recovery stage, totalling over £2m, and sought reassurances than once control measures were operating effectively again that a significant proportion of this would be recoverable. The Head of Customer Services detailed how the action plan would address these concerns and manage the risks that had been identified. The Committee also heard that as part of work to improve the service there would be changes to make it clearer and easier for services to monitor levels of debt, including mandatory training for relevant officers.
It was requested that future reports break down the age of the debts so the Committee could better differentiate between short term debt and those older debts that presented a greater challenge to recover. Debt recovery options were considered on a case-by-case basis as to what was the most appropriate route to pursue. Confirmation that debt was not sold on to a third party was provided to the Committee.
Responding to a query raised, it was agreed that the current level of outstanding debt would be provided to the Committee, with regular updates to follow in the future.
1. That the position with regard to the Internal Audit Plan be noted.
2. That the deferral of two reviews from the April to September Internal Audit Plan be approved.