Agenda and draft minutes

Corporate Committee - Thursday 21 July 2022 6.00 pm

Venue: Room B-06, Town Hall, Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RW

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

Note: Information on how to access the meeting is set out on the agenda. However, if you just want to watch the live broadcast you can copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://bit.ly/3aT3KSo. The video will remain available to view for 180 days. 

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:

Councillor Tiedemann noted that his property overlooked Rush Common, but this was not classed as a pecuniary interest.

 

2.

Previous Minutes pdf icon PDF 227 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the previous meeting held on the 31 March 2022.

Minutes:

The minutes were approved as a correct record of the meeting subject to the below change:

 

·           To amend, on page 2, “He was queried why…” to “He queried why…”.

 

3.

Public Notice Question

    • View the background to item 3.

    Minutes:

    Simon Morrow, Chartered Surveyor and People’s Audit representative, addressed the Committee as below:

    ·           The People’s Audit’s view was that they were needed as the Council was out of control and not listening.

    ·           It was requested that the Corporate Committee instruct Internal Audit to investigate the issues the People’s Audit had raised and commission an independent, external organisation to investigate.

     

    Paul Rock, Assistant Director for Internal Audit and Counter Fraud, responded as follows:

    ·           Internal Audit plans were devised each year between February and March and were approved by the Committee.

    ·           The Committee then review the Plan (and progress against it) at each meeting along with findings and agree amendments to the Plan where needed.

    ·           The Plan considered risks and issues faced by the authority at its inception and throughout the year as they were identified or emerged, and which the Committee approved.

     

    Mr Morrow asked the following supplementary question:

    ·           It was the People’s Audit belief that the issues raised should be investigated.

    ·           An external body should be consulted to carry out an investigation to ensure independence.

    ·           Internal Audit had failed to properly audit the Council’s activities and he asked Committee members to instigate an external audit?

     

    Paul Rock, Assistant Director for Internal Audit and Counter Fraud, responded:

    ·           He had joined Lambeth on 1 April and was not in a position to respond as to why previous Committees had not instigated an external review or if one was necessary.

    ·           Corporate Committee could recommend specific areas for further investigations and inclusion within the audit plan or independent review.

    ·           He had no prior connection to the local authority and was objective in carrying out his role.

     

    In discussion it was noted:

    ·           Council housing repairs were known issues and were included in the audit plan.

    ·           The Audit Plan was regularly brought to Corporate Committee.

    ·           The Independent member noted that during his membership, he had seen no evidence to suggest that internal audit had failed, and the Plan would be discussed later in its respective report.

     

    The Chair concluded discussion by noting these were issues to be decided later in the year.

     

4.

Work Programme and Action Monitoring Log 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 283 KB

    • View the background to item 4.

    (All wards)

     

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

     

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

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Chair noted that this item would be taken offline and reported at the next meeting of the Committee, with the Clerk adding that the reduction to two outstanding actions showed significant progress.

     

    In discussion it was noted by James Rimmington, Risk Manager; and Christina Thompson, Director of Finance and Property, that:

    ·           Contract management risks were captured on the Corporate Risk Register.

    ·           Homes for Lambeth was also on the risk register and would be discussed at future meetings.

    ·           Officers would be content to go through risks to ensure all scenarios were sufficiently detailed, and Corporate Committee could make recommendations of risks.

    ·           There would be further risk management training provided

    ·           The Lambeth Borough-level Risk Register included pandemic contingencies.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note the Corporate Committee’s work programme for 2022-23 (Appendix A).

    2.         To note the Corporate Committee’s actions monitoring log (Appendix B).

     

5.

Corporate Committee Annual Report pdf icon PDF 213 KB

    • View the background to item 5.

    (All wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance and Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Paul Rock, Assistant Director Internal Audit and Counter Fraud, 07874 883096, prock@lambeth.gov.uk

     

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Paul Rock, Assistant Director for Internal Audit and Counter Fraud introduced the report and noted that the Council was required to report Committee activity over the last financial year.  The report had been reviewed by Councillor Amos, as outgoing Chair, and approved for Full Council submission.

     

    Simon Blakeney requested that page 28 be amended to note he only joined the Committee in January 2022 and that Corporate Committee worked jointly with the Scrutiny Committees.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To approve the Corporate Committee’s Annual Report for 2021/22 and to recommend it to Council for final approval.

     

     

6.

Internal Audit and Counter Fraud Annual Report 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 353 KB

    • View the background to item 6.

    (All Wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance and Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Justin Martin, Chief Audit Executive, 07881 802 336

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Justin Martin, Chief Audit Executive, introduced this report as follows:

    ·           The Internal Audit and Counter Fraud (IACF) Progress Report fed into the Annual Report, which covered the period up until 01 April 2022.

    ·           67 projects had been undertaken during 2021-22, providing comprehensive assurance and Lambeth had not cut back on auditing unlike other local authorities.

    ·           The satisfactory opinion provided was positive assurance, maintaining the levels of the previous two years and showed the organisation was stable and in control.

    ·           One area of improvement included adherence or compliance with established policies and processes, but these were typically through not being able to demonstrate policies or processes had happened (through full documentation or record keeping) rather than evidence that the process had not happened.

    ·           Continuous audit deep-testing provided rigour that processes worked and also showed reasonable control over financials. 90% of implementation work had been delivered.

     

    Officers responded to questions as follows:

    ·         Timing issues had caused an influx of limited assurance reports since the last Committee as these took time to finalise, with senior management reviewing before being reported to Committee.  The bulk of audit work had been completed on time.

    ·         Evidence was required to form an assurance opinion, but it was also necessary to ensure systems were adequately working in the absence of written evidence.

    ·         Staff data protection training levels would be provided to the Committee outside the meeting.

    ·         Action Plans were implemented, and key performance indicators monitored to resolve issues arising from continuous audit monitoring.

    ·         Temporary Accommodation required the clarification of policies and procedures prior to further review.

    ·         Housing rents performance and collection was performing well, however processes required clarity for staff to follow to ensure they sufficiently evidenced activities.

    ·         Access to eLearning such as the Bribery Awareness courses, would be provided to Corporate Committee members.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To approve the draft Internal Audit and Counter Fraud Annual Report for 2021/22.

     

7.

Internal Audit and Counter Fraud Progress 2021-22 and 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 353 KB

    • View the background to item 7.

    (All wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance and Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Paul Rock, Assistant Director Internal Audit and Counter Fraud, 07874 883096,prock@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During this item, Councillor James Bryan arrived at 18:38 and noted that he had no interest to declare.

     

    Paul Rock, Assistant Director for Internal Audit and Counter Fraud, introduced the report as below:

    ·           The report contained additional information from 2021/22 not covered in the annual report.

    ·           There were two outstanding reports from 2021/22 on home-working health and safety, and disciplinary processes, due to the Human Resources Director being recently appointed.

    ·           Action implementation remained high, however significantly delayed actions were summarised in the report with updated management responses provided.

    ·           Officers were confident that the 2022/23 plan would be delivered.

    ·           There had been steady progress with counter fraud activity to date, with further improvement from previous years anticipated as the borough moved out of the pandemic.

     

    The Committee next heard from Councillor Scott Ainslie:

    ·           There were numerous concerns on internal audit, procurement and disrepair action deferments.

    ·           Lived experiences of constituents were poor and they deserved better.

    ·           Corporate Committee members were responsible for holding the Council accountable.

    ·           Service users should be in charge of invoices and the Council was losing money whilst housing remained in disrepair.

    ·           He queried why there were no clear procurement processes.

     

    Officers responded to questions as follows:

    ·           There were controls in place for tenders under £100,000 which came under a different process, with those over this value going to competitive tender.

    ·           Detail of the audit testing for contracts sample during the procurement audit would be provided outside the meeting, however 33 out of 111 were rated as competitive, and others had waivers or were contract extensions.

    ·           There had been considerable numbers of school audits and the quality appeared to be improving.  Progress against agreed management actions was tracked for those audits providing limited assurance until the actions were fully implemented.

    ·           Implementation rates of agreed management actions for school and Council audits would be detailed in future reports.

    ·           If available, comparative data for competitive tendering across neighbouring boroughs would be provided to the Committee.

    ·           Procurement cost increase and associated risks were being managed and controlled as detailed in the audit.  Additional information could be provided as part of risk register updates.

    ·           The latest management position on housing disrepairs and delays were detailed in the report.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note the final progress update against the 2021/22 Internal Audit and Counter Fraud plan.

    2.         To note progress update made against the 2022-23 Internal Audit and Counter Fraud plan.

     

8.

Annual Governance Statement 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 213 KB

    • View the background to item 8.

    (All Wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Fiona Mcdermott: Strategic Director for Finance and Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: James Rimmington, Risk Manager, Finance and Investment, 020 7926 3013, jrimmington@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    James Rimmington, Risk Manager, introduced the Annual Governance Statement (AGS) which summarised the key processes , structures and system the Council had in place to deliver governance; and highlighted any governance issues that occurred during the year, noting in particular:

    ·           Covid-19 challenges and recovery actions were detailed in the agenda pack, page 12.

    ·           There was a strong understanding of governance frameworks within the Council.

    ·           Complaint handling in housing, cyber security training, Business continuity management and the use of waivers were identified governance issues as detailed in the agenda pack, pages 14-15

     

    Officers responded to questions as follows:

    ·           The emergency powers given to the Chief Executive and the Leader of the Council, with scrutiny given by the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny, during Covid-19 had been removed from the Constitution during the previous year.

    ·           The reasons for waiving or extending contracts could be due to timetabling, but they were also utilised in limited market conditions or when required to use specific service providers.

    ·           The use of hybrid meetings was a wider question for Members and if they felt such arrangements were sufficient or worked effectively.

    ·           Competitive procurement could aim for a target of 100% instead of 90% across all activity, but the 10% related to exemptions where it was not possible to go out to tender.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note the Annual Governance Statement 2021/22 (Appendix A) and Local Code of Corporate Governance 2021/22 (Appendix B)

     

9.

Draft Statements of Accounts and Inspection Notice Period 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 223 KB

    • View the background to item 9.

    (All wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Fiona McDermott, Strategic Director for Finance and Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Cagdas Canbolat, Assistant Director of Corporate Finance,ccanbolat@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Cadgas Canbolat, Assistant Director of Corporate Finance, noted that the Draft Statement of Accounts would be published on 29 July 2022 and were currently on track after an initial extension period, with the public inspection period to run from 29 July to 12 September 2022.

     

    Officers responded to questions as follows:

    ·           Three objections were recorded in the previous year; however, these were detailed only between the objectors and auditors, and Lambeth only recorded if objections existed.  Two of these had now been closed, with the third to be closed in due course.

    ·           Last years’ set of accounts had been closed, but due to the above outstanding issue the last three sets of accounts had not yet been certified.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note that the Draft Statement of Accounts 2021/22 will be published on 29 July 2022.

    2.         To note the start period of Public Inspection of Accounts 2021/22 (Appendix 1).

    3.         To note the Audit Progress Report 2021/22 (Appendix 2).

     

10.

Treasury Management Annual Performance Report for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 pdf icon PDF 426 KB

    • View the background to item 10.

    (All Wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Strategic Director for Finance and Investment: Fiona McDermott

     

    Contact for enquiries: Head of Treasury and Pensions: Robert Browning, 020 7926 5309, rbrowning@lambeth.gov.uk

     

     

    Minutes:

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note the Treasury Management Performance Report for the financial year ending 31 March 2022.

     

11.

Complaints, Member Enquiries and Freedom of Information Act Requests pdf icon PDF 612 KB

    • View the background to item 11.

    (All Wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Venetia Reid- Baptiste, Interim Strategic Director for Resident Services 

     

    Contact for enquiries: Karen Sullivan, AD Resident Experienceksullivan@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Minutes:

    Karen Sullivan, Assistant Director for Resident Experience, introduced the report:

    ·           Case volumes had increased and performance had decreased, with case backlogs arising, particularly in Housing Services.

    ·           Steady performance improvements with Housing Ombudsman referrals had been maintained since March, although referrals had also increased.

     

    Councillor Scott Ainslie next spoke:

    ·           There had not been significant improvement since 2014 and Committee members needed to ensure the delivery of services, including appropriate accountability – specifying an allocated person; culture; and specific dates of delivery.

    ·           Complaints and adverse Ombudsman’s decisions had increased, whilst Lambeth had the highest number of Ombudsman complaints not dealt with and was failing to comply with written warnings.

    ·           Many Member’s Enquiries replies were insufficient and required a complaint, which was then not actioned. 

    ·           The complaints system needed to be tracked similar to the Member’s Enquiries and it was requested when this would be delivered or if one was in planning.

     

    Officers responded to questions as follows:

    ·           There was functionality in the officer iCasework system to track complaints from Members and also functionality to monitor performance and responses.

    ·           There were significant resources challenges, particularly in Housing Services.

    ·           Members’ Enquiries responses were monitored by specific officers, but system improvements were dependent on Members’ feedback, which was welcomed.

    ·           Performance management was reported monthly to the Strategic Director and Directors of Resident Services through corporate performance reporting to all directorates and quarterly to Management Board.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note the contents of the report.

     

12.

Children's Social Care Complaints pdf icon PDF 367 KB

    • View the background to item 12.

    (All Wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Fiona Connolly: Strategic Director for Children’s Services

     

    Contact for enquiries: Ferisha Royal, Complaints Manager, Quality Assurance Children’s Social Care, London Borough of Lambeth, Tel: 020 7926 9777, froyal@lambeth.gov.uk

     

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Jane Carroll, Interim Director for Children’s Social Care; and Ferisha Royal, Complaints Manager, introduced the report:

    ·           98% of complaints were resolved at early resolution representing c.£68,000 in savings as the Council otherwise commissioned independent social workers for Stages 2 and 3 complaints.

    ·           A Complaints Officer had been resourced in 2020 to increase capacity and make savings.

    ·           There were Interactive and informal sessions with key staff on complaint resolution skills and weekly reviews of good complaint responses chaired by the Director for Children’s Social Care.

    ·           82% of Members’ Enquiry responses were on time compared to 40% from 2020-21.

    ·           Stage 1 outcomes would be tracked next year to measure satisfaction levels and positive, quality assurances.

     

    Officers responded to questions as follows:

    ·           Officers received quarterly reports and identified themes were built into training, such as employing two live story practitioners, delivering training for all social workers; and reviewing the management of and communication with stressed families.

    ·           A full review of the Children’s Services payment system was underway.

    ·           Officers would report outside the meeting on the possibility of providing comparative data to other London boroughs; however, Lambeth was doing well compared to its peers.

    ·           Complaints lessons learnt in Children’s Social Care were shard with the wider Children’s Services directorate and shared weekly with the Corporate Complaints unit.

    ·           Young person enquiries and feedback was encouraged, and further coproduction was desired.

     

    The Chair thanked officers for their progress, and reiterated encouragement for learning and information-sharing to take place across the Council.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note attached report (Appendix A).

     

13.

Annual Risk Management Report- Children's Social Care 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 523 KB

    • View the background to item 13.

    (All Wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Fiona Connolly, Acting Strategic Director for Children’s Services 

     

    Contact for enquiries: Jane Carroll, Interim Director Children’s Social Care, jcarroll@lambeth.gov.uk, 020 7926 8567

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Jane Carroll, Interim Director for Children’s Social Care, introduced the report and stated that the main risks remained an over-reliance on agency workforce and ensuring the safeguarding of children and children looked after (CLA).  The report outlined these and other risks, actions and updated on progress.

     

    Officers responded to questions as follows:

    ·           Feedback on how to report the 80% of staff being agency workers was sought. 

    ·           Staff remained a source of concern as the lack of a permanent workforce did not allow for practices to sufficiently embed, although budget control was satisfactory.

    ·           Mitigations were not detailed in this report but were reported to other committees and boards.

    ·           Risks were also reported to the Corporate Parenting Board, Safeguarding Children’s Partnership, and Children’s Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee.

    ·           Further discussion was needed on red-rated risks (agenda pack, page 273) to detail how to reach tolerance and manage with other committees, such as with the Scrutiny committees.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note the contents of this report.

     

14.

Rush Common Annual Report pdf icon PDF 432 KB

    • View the background to item 14.

    (All Wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Eleanor Purser and Sara Waller: Strategic Directors for Sustainable Growth and Opportunity

     

    Contact for enquiries: Robert O’Sullivan, Assistant Director, Development Management and Enforcement, 0207 926 1427 rosullivan@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Brandan Wilkinson, Principal Planning Officer, introduced the report and answered questions as follows:

    ·           There was an ongoing commitment to update the Rush Common Policy and Guidance note.

    ·           It was requested to no longer distribute the summary leaflets of Rush Common Policy and Guidance note, due to the steady decline of breaches, that effective guidance was published on the Council’s website, and significant ongoing staff resourcing pressures.

    ·           There was an ongoing commitment to undertake a photographic survey.

    ·           During 2021-22, there were six active enforcement cases, one of which remained open.  Of the six cases, only one related to a potential breach of Rush Common Act and five others related to the Town and Country Planning Act.  Two enforcement cases were closed since last year, of which only one related to a breach of the Rush Common Act.

    ·           Three Rush Common Consent applications had been received since last year, with one approved by officers and two remaining undetermined.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note and agree the update on the Action Plan (Appendix 1).

    2.         To note the Rush Common Report 2021-2022 (Appendix 2).