Agenda item

Progress Report on Internal Audit Activity

To examine the progress made between 9 March 2022 and 18 July 2022 in relation to the completion of the Annual Internal Audit Plan for 2021/22 (report of Faye Haywood, Head of Internal Audit enclosed).


Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Internal Audit to examine the progress made between 9 March 2022 and 18 July 2022 in relation to the completion of the Annual Internal Audit Plan for 2021/2022.


The Governance and Audit Committee received updates on progress made against the annual internal audit plan. The report formed part of the overall reporting requirements to assist the Council in discharging its responsibilities in relation to the internal audit activity.

The Public Sector Audit Standards required the Chief Audit Executive to report to the Governance and Audit Committee the performance of internal audit relative to its agreed plan, including any significant risk exposures and control issues. The frequency of reporting at South Holland was to each meeting.


To comply with the above requirements, the report identified:


  • any significant changes to the approved Audit Plan – section 2 of the report detailed amendments which had been reported at the last meeting but had been included again for transparency;
  • progress made in delivering the agreed audits for the year – these had been discussed with the Committee throughout the year and the vast majority of the work had been completed;
  • any significant outcomes arising from those audits – provided at point 4.4 of the report; and
  • performance indicator outcomes to date.


During the period covered by the report, Internal Audit had issued four reports in final:

  • Housing Needs, Allocation, Homelessness, Housing Register (Reasonable Assurance);
  • Private Sector Housing (Limited Assurance);
  • Human Resources (Reasonable Assurance); and
  • Corporate Health and Safety (Limited Assurance)


The Head of Internal Audit highlighted the progress that had been made in the two areas that had received ‘Limited Assurance’:

  • The Private Sector Housing Report had been given ‘No Assurance’ at the last audit however 16 urgent recommendations had reduced to 3 and significant progress had been made. A follow-up exercise had shown improvements and the area had been given a ‘Limited Assurance’ rating.
    • The Homelessness Reduction and Private Sector Improvement Manager stated that:
      • Further progress on the outstanding urgent recommendations were awaiting requested technical support from the external provider, Northgate. It was anticipated that the outstanding recommendations which related to budget reconciliation, financial reconciliation and report building would be resolved after the technical support had been received.
      • No update was available for the Caravan Licencing recommendation at the time of the meeting.
  • Members noted the improvements that had taken place however all the issues raised were welcomed by the Committee as progress had been required:
    • Members specifically noted awareness of empty homes in their areas which they felt could have progressed more quickly; and
    • that quarterly reconciliations should be kept on track.


  • A number of important recommendations had been raised from the Corporate Health and Safety audit which had resulted in a ‘Limited Assurance’ risk rating, however progress had been made and just one recommendation remained outstanding at the time of the meeting.
    • The Assistant Director – Regulatory responded with the following points:
      • the Assistant Director – Regulatory confirmed he had been the lead officer responsible for Health and Safety across the three sovereign authorities in the partnership since October 2021. Engagement with the audit process early in his tenure was welcomed and had expedited the understanding of health and safety compliance within SHDC and quickly identified service strengths and areas for improvement.
      • that the audit had been conducted against the backdrop of the pandemic which had necessitated a rapid and reactive adjustment to health and safety priorities to ensure the safety of staff and members;
      • that the audit had acknowledged that the fundamentals were in place;
      • that the recommendations had been welcome – all ‘important’ recommendations had been completed with the exception of one which was on a positive trajectory for completion. All agreed ‘needs attention’ recommendations had been completed.
  • Members welcomed the progress within this area.


  • Members referred to the ‘other points noted’ on the Assurance Review of Private Sector Housing and queried why a new Lincolnshire Discretionary Housing Assistance Policy had been drafted.  Whilst it was understood that each authority would issue discretionary payments, South Holland District Council was the only authority within the S&ELCP to own properties and members therefore requested context behind the emergence of a joint policy.
    • The Head of Internal Audit responded that the draft policy was in the process of being written at the time of the audit, and the report had noted this.
    • The Homelessness Reduction and Private Sector Improvement Manager responded that private sector housing teams across the partnership operated differently, and senior managers were looking at how services could be aligned. At the time of the audit, South Holland District Council had written a new Discretionary Housing Assistance Policy and both BCC and ELDC were looking to rewrite their policies - alignment had been sensible.
    • The Assistant Director – Regulatory responded that the current journey of aligning policies and procedures and driving efficiencies across the three authorities of the partnership was underway but would take time to be fully implemented.
    • The Assistant Director – Finance responded that most policies were driven by government regulation and therefore baseline policy alignment across the partnership was sensible – policy nuances to fulfil individual needs of sovereign councils would be retained.


  • Members referred to the Positive Findings of the Assurance Review of Human Resources and queried why the Council did not reclaim V.A.T. from Members’ fuel expenses.
    • The Assistant Director – Finance stated that V.A.T. was claimed back for officers but not Members and would refer the issue to the Head of HR (PSPS) for clarification.


Members welcomed the report and thanked the Head of Internal Audit, the audit team and SHDC officers for the progress made.




That the information detailed within the report be noted.


Supporting documents: