Agenda and minutes

Corporate Committee - Thursday 25 March 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Microsoft Teams - please copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://bit.ly/3rT5Y7u

Contact: Chloe Morris, Democratic Services,  020 7926 1065, Email: cmorris2@lambeth.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Declaration of Pecuniary Interests

Under Standing Order 4.4, where any councillor has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct (para. 4)) in any matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council, a committee, sub-committee or joint committee, they must withdraw from the meeting room during the whole of the consideration of that matter and must not participate in any vote on that matter unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Monitoring Officer.

 

 

Minutes:

There were none.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 196 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the previous meeting held on the 25 January 2021.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 January 2021 be approved unanimously as a correct record of proceedings.

3.

Action Monitoring and Work Programme 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 377 KB

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance and

    Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Christian Scade, Deputy Democratic Services Manager, 020 7926 0045, Cscade@lambeth.gov.uk

     

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Democratic Services provided a brief update to the Committee and highlighted to members the outcomes of the Homes for Lambeth (HfL) challenge session found at section 2.3 of the report onwards. An action that was raised from this challenge session was that an informal workshop would take place before the first meeting of the municipal year with Committee Members, to help develop the work programme for 2021/22.

     

    Furthermore, the outstanding action on page 25 of the agenda had developed and the Committee was informed that an analysis on the self-assessments had been completed and a report based on the results would be presented to the 20 May Corporate Committee meeting. In addition, a meeting was in place for officers to discuss next steps in terms of the recruitment process and that the outcomes would then be shared at the informal work programme workshop.

     

    Councillor Garden requested a verbal update on the Central Hill Estate funds held in trust in connection with the Tower Hamlets Environmental Trust (THET). Democratic Services advised that a written update would be provided by the Director for Housing Services to demonstrate what the next steps would be and when the item would return to Corporate Committee. Currently Legal were doing due diligence on the transfer of funds and until this was completed the next steps on expenditure would remain on hold.

     

     

    RESOLVED: unanimously.

    1.    To note the Corporate Committee’s work programme for 2020-21.

     

    2.    To note the Corporate Committee’s actions monitoring log.

     

    3.    To hold a workshop, with officers, before 20 May 2021 to help develop the Corporate Committee Work Programme for 2021/22.

     

     

     

     

4.

Mazars External Audit Update pdf icon PDF 217 KB

    • View the background to item 4.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance and

    Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Nisar Visram, Assistant Director for Corporate Finance, 020 7926 9386, nvisram@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Nisar Visram, Assistant Director for Corporate Finance and Stuart Frith, Senior Manager at Mazars introduced the report and provided responses to questions raised by the Committee as follows:

     

    ·         The Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) return audit letter would be completed in due course. This had a new online system which had technical difficulties, like online access issues. Central Government were working on resolving these issues.

     

    ·         Most London Boroughs would be working on a similar delayed timetable provided by the external auditors. This was to have accounts signed off by November, instead of the September statutory deadline. No fixed penalties would be issued due to missing the statutory deadline with the impact mainly reputational.

     

    ·         Only five firms could currently audit Local Government accounts and they were all in the same position on not achieving deadlines.

     

    Discussions had taken place with current valuers regarding property valuations that had not taken place for several years. Whilst meeting the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) Code requirement to have assets valued on a five-year rolling programme with an annual impairment review, the council could also meet the auditor’s additional requirement to look further at assets that had not been revalued for three years.

     

    Christina Thompson, Director of Finance and Property added that:

    ·         Accounts should be produced in a timely manner and to the statutory deadline and no-one was happy with a delayed audit sign-off. However, delayed sign-off concerns were raised not only from Lambeth but across London.

     

    ·         Work carried out as part of the audit would need to meet the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) levels of assurance and this therefore resulted in more work required to be completed by audit firms, which resulted in a longer audit process.

     

    ·         The Council did not procure auditors directly, this process was completed through a national scheme by the Public Sector Audit Appointments Ltd. Therefore, auditors are appointed centrally and then allocated to each council.

     

    In discussion members expressed concerns that Lambeth had auditors that were unable to reach statutory deadlines. The Committee would have liked Mazars to have identified in the report that although it was challenging, they would use their best efforts to achieve deadlines.

     

    RESOLVED: unanimously

    1.    To note the External Audit Progress Report

    2.    To note the Audit Completion Letter sent to the Chair of Corporate Committee pertaining to the 19/20 external audit.

5.

Internal Audit and Counter Fraud Progress 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 364 KB

    • View the background to item 5.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance and

    Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Justin Martin, Chief Audit Executive, 07881 802336

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Justin Martin, Chief Audit Executive, Charlotte Bilsland, Deputy Chief Audit Executive, Yousra Abdelmoneim, Internal Audit Manager and Michael O’Reilly, Counter Fraud Manager presented the report.  Justin Martin and Yousra Abdelmoneim expressed their gratitude to Council officers for high engagement especially as they were ahead of schedule and were on target with a high implementation action rate which was over 90%.

     

    Internal audit highlighted that repairs and maintenance was focused on in previous audits and that disrepairs would be focused on in terms of the design and effectiveness of controls associated with the disrepairs process. Discussions would be put into place to avoid issues becoming disrepairs.

     

    Items related to Counter Fraud were addressed by Michael O’Reilly, he explained the following:

     

    ·         Lessons learned would be incorporated into the annual update, moving forward it would be added to each report presented to the Committee.

     

    ·         Corporate Committee would receive a report in Summer or Autumn which would supply benchmarking data and further detail on MHCLG Transparency Data.

     

    ·         In relation to the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) which is a mandatory scheme, Counter Fraud would only oversee the data. Progress would increase throughout the next few Corporate Committee meetings as the current NFI exercise commenced in February 2021 and little progress had been made to date. 

     

    ·         The graph on page 66 outlined internal fraud reports that had been referred to Counter Fraud. This had declined compared to the previous year, due to the impact of COVID19.

     

    ·         COVID19 grants in terms of recovery was ongoing however £95,000 had been recovered and paid out in error by Revenues. Cases to the approximate value of £100,000 cases were pending as possible prosecution cases. Counter Fraud had worked closely with Revenue on this workstream.

     

    ·         Counter Fraud identified tenancy fraud and aimed to recover properties. Funds were generally recovered from those committing fraud where criminal cases would take place, particularly where costs would be awarded or where an unlawful profit order was deemed by the courts to be appropriate in proven subletting cases.

     

    ·         Counter Fraud would report only on cases investigated by the Counter Fraud Team. Furthermore, Homes for Lambeth (HfL) was not included but would appear once they had properties to rent.

     

    Christina Thompson, Director of Finance and Property provided assurance to the Committee that the work of the contract management team ensured that there were strong processes in place across the Council to manage contracts and the team were ensuring that these were consistently applied. Furthermore, the procurement team would report back to committee in Summer/Autumn, to provide an update that would include contract management. She advised the Member who had stated that he was aware of fraud in Council contracts that he refer the matter immediately to the Counter Fraud Team.

     

    One Member highlighted that fraudulent contracts were a criminal act and poor contract management would be a matter for lessons learned for managers involved in procurement. The committee agreed both issues were within the Corporate Committee scope, but they were two separate identified issues. Officers agreed to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Internal Audit and Counter Fraud Plan 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 272 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Justin Martin, Chief Audit Executive, Charlotte Bilsland, Deputy Chief Audit Executive, Michael O’Reilly, Counter Fraud Manager presented the report.

     

    Committee Members raised three areas of concerns that were not included in the Annual Internal Audit Plan, Internal Audit addressed the following concerns and replied that:

     

    ·         Safety, in terms of protecting women and young people would be considered under diversity and inclusion.

     

    ·         Low traffic neighbourhoods (LTN) would be incorporated into planning.

     

    ·         Lastly, the internal audit of leaseholders had been performed the year prior. Therefore, would need to allow time to imbed findings and that currently there were no concerns on this.

     

    Internal audit would perform a risk assessment on what items would come out of the current plan, Corporate Committee would therefore be required to approve amendments to the internal audit plan at the next meeting.

     

    Officers agreed to provide Members with a written response on how Counter Fraud and Internal audit achieved combined assurance.

     

    Appendix 1, page 86, in addition to Appendix 3, page 90 provided an update on how both Internal Audit and Counter Fraud worked together to provide corporate assurance.

     

     

    RESOLVED: Unanimously to approve the draft internal Audit and Counter Fraud Plans for 2021/22. Subject to consideration being given to the issues raised during the discussion.

     

7.

Corporate and Strategic Key Risk Report Q4 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 821 KB

    • View the background to item 7.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance and

    Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: James Rimmington, Risk Manager, 020 7926 3013,

    jrimmington@lambeth.gov.uk

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    James Rimmington, Risk Manager, Finance, and Investment introduced and highlighted the key points of the report to the committee.

     

    James Haddock, a chartered accountant, and a resident in Lambeth, addressed the Committee, stating that he had spoken at Cabinet on 22 March regarding the Joint Delivery Plan (JDP) and the five top risks associated with this plan. James Haddock made representations on this item and informed the Committee that:

     

    ·         At the top of the Council’s risk register was the failure to deliver the estate regeneration programme (Homes for Lambeth) to plan and budget. However, none of the other four key risks presented at Cabinet on the JDP were included despite risk numbers being higher than those shown on the report.

     

    ·         That HfL risks had not been addressed. That there had been no insight on COVID, and Brexit risks/impacts incorporated into several issues that could have created financial risks.

     

    ·         The relationship of Average Sale Value to the break-even value was a key risk measure, that had not been identified in either report.

     

    In response to questions officers replied:

    ·         That the council ensured that HfL were effectively managing risks that would be identified. However, the function of Corporate Committee was to ensure that correct processes were in place.

     

    ·         The COVID risk register was set out in Appendix C and Brexit risks around loss of investment was presented on table 6, page 105 of the agenda.

     

    James Haddock was advised that both transcripts from Cabinet and Corporate Committee would be circulated by Democratic Services to the Director of Finance and Property. These would be reviewed alongside any additional statements. Once reviewed appropriate actions would take place.

     

    Committee Members highlighted that HfL was an item that the committee had expressed concerns on. The council robustly managed risks around HfL and these would be addressed at the HfL ownership and stewardship panel. In addition, one member of the committee requested that the relevant Cabinet Member and Head of Service for Youth Violence attended the next risk discussion, as the Corporate Youth Violence risk had remained very high for a long period of time.

     

    In a further discussion, a Member queried a potential inconsistency within the report in terms of risk numbering and stated that across the council there needed to be consistency on reporting risks. James Rimmington replied that the risks highlighted were two different risks which was why there were two different risk levels. The Chair advised that any Member who identified inconsistencies were to contact Democratic Services.

     

    The Chair stated the role and responsibilities of Corporate Committee. Councillor Ainslie stated that in his view, the Committee had not acted in compliance with its terms of reference and read them from part 2 of the council’s constitution.

     

     

    RESOLVED: Unanimously

    To note the council’s key Corporate, Strategic, COVID-19 and Brexit risks at Q4 2020/21 (tables 1-6 and Appendices A-D).

     

8.

Counter Fraud Policies and Procedures 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 377 KB

    • View the background to item 8.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance and

    Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Michael O’Reilly, Counter Fraud Manager, 020 7926 2993, MOReilly2@lambeth.gov.uk

     

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Michael O’Reilly, Counter Fraud Manager, Finance and Property, introduced the report. The Chair explained to the Committee that the policies listed must be approved each year. Answers were provided to questions raised by the committee:

     

    ·         No convictions had been made in terms of fraudulent contract management. This was an internal audit function. Justin Martin to provide the Committee further information on contract management from the past three years outside of this meeting.

     

    ·         The whistleblowing Charter in Appendix D was for employees and not members of the public. Councillor Simpson reiterated that there was a dedicated process in place that shields employees from repercussions.

     

    Following discussion, the Committee recommended and agreed unanimously that references to officers were to be anonymised and listed in an appendix each year and in future the committee should look at one or two of the policies periodically to allow each policy to be analysed in detail.

     

    RESOLVED: unanimously to approve the updated

    ·         Counter Fraud Policy (Appendix A)

    ·         Fraud Response Plan (Appendix B)

    ·         Anti-Bribery Policy (Appendix C)

    ·         Whistleblowing Charter (Appendix D)

    ·         Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure (Appendix E); and,

    ·         Money Laundering Policy and Practice Notes (Appendix F).

9.

Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) Update Report pdf icon PDF 505 KB

    • View the background to item 9.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Tasnim Shawkat, Interim Director of Legal and Governance

     

    Contact for enquiries: Kevin McEvoy, Interim Project Manager, KMcevoy@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The guillotine fell at 7.57pm.

     

    It was MOVED by the Chair, and,

     

    RESOLVED: Unanimously, that in accordance with Standing Orders 9.5-9.7, the meeting continue for a further period of up to 30 minutes.

     

     

    The report was presented by Zoe Bloomfield, Information Governance Lawyer. An update was provided as the last time the item had attended Corporate Committee was 17 September 2020 for the Phase 2 project review which would be completed by 31 March 2021. Zoe Bloomfield highlighted that a lot had been achieved in preparation to move into Phase 3 and the next steps for this. Zoe Bloomfield responded to questions that the Committee raised as follows:

     

    ·         Cyber security did not sit in the Information Governance remit. However, the team worked closely alongside ICT to mitigate the risk of a cyber-attack.

     

    ·         “UK GDPR” 2018 legislation was referred to in the report as the United Kingdom was still in a transitional Brexit period. At the end of the year more legislation would be implemented.

     

    ·         Data held by Councillors was not considered by the team, as their view was that Councillors were their own data owners, therefore Councillors would be responsible for the data they held. Training for Councillors would be implemented.

     

    Furthermore, mandatory Data Protection Essentials Training was rolled out across Lambeth Council. Monthly workshops were in place to work specifically with data owners which had received good feedback. Planning was in place to have training tailored to Children’s Services and bi-monthly surgeries with directorates to address training requirements.

     

    The Committee expressed concerns regarding the role of Councillors as data owners as well as ICT and Lambeth’s Cyber security.

     

    RESOLVED: unanimously

    1.    To note the work undertaken in Phase 2 of the GDPR Project (as detailed in Section 1).

     

    2.    To note and endorse the recommendations for DPA Phase 3 in line with ICO recommendations.

10.

Lambeth Workforce Transformation Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 327 KB

    • View the background to item 10.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance and

    Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Dean Shoesmith, Director for Human Resources and Organisational Development, 020 7926 7761,dshoesmith@lambeth.gov.uk  

     

    Minutes:

    Dean Shoesmith, Director for Human Resources and Organisation Development introduced the report and highlighted that Lambeth Council had recently achieved a Silver-level Investors in People (IIP) accreditation, the first the Council had achieved at this level to which the Committee praised officers. The improved results correlated with the actions being implemented from the Workforce Transformation Strategy.

     

    Councillor Jackie Meldrum, a visiting member, highlighted the importance of the report and congratulated the team on the accreditation the Council had gained, also for the priority that had been given on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) work. However, Councillor Jackie Meldrum wanted clarity to be provided on current staff development, particularly junior and frontline staff in terms of management essentials, to develop skills and grow talent that the Council already had. 

     

    Committee Members endorsed Councillor Meldrum’s comment on growing Lambeths own talent within the Council and congratulated the IIP accreditation. One member suggested that the Council should aim for platinum accreditation.  

     

    In response to questions Dean Shoesmith replied:

    ·         The Skills Framework would be continuously developed to ensure that a clear skills pathway enabled individual and organisational development.

     

    ·         The Council had an active apprenticeships strategy, to recruit and train younger talent from Lambeth residents.

     

    ·         Workforce diversity talent programmes for a range of protected characteristic groups had been in place since early 2020, which 150 staff had completed. Furthermore, training was available for non-managers to gain managerial insight, as well as for current managers and new managers joining the organisation.

     

    ·         Performance management was making progress from previous years and formed part of the IIP assessment. A plan would be coming out of the Staff Survey results highlighting the Council’s weaker areas for development.

     

    ·         Senior Management representation of BAME staff was 35%. Staff at all levels had diversity talent programmes to improve development opportunities.

     

     

    RESOLVED: Unanimously

    to note the report, progress, and further actions.