To present the approved Annual Governance Statement to Committee (report of the Executive Director Commercialisation (Section 151 Officer) is enclosed).
Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director Commercialisation (S151 Officer) which presented the approved Annual Governance Statement to the Committee, a copy of which was attached to the report at Appendix A.
The Draft Annual Governance Statement had been presented to the Committee on 26 May 2016 as part of the Un-Audited Accounts report. The Committee had agreed the draft statement and instructed that it be presented to the Executive Management Team (EMT) for final review and approval. EMT provisionally approved the statement in June 2016 with authority given to the Executive Director Commercialisation to finalise the statement as part of the Annual Statement of Accounts. The Un-Audited Accounts were finalised and passed over to the Auditors on 30 June 2016, and the approved Annual Governance Statement formed part of the document. The Financial Statements, including the Annual Governance Statement were added to the Authority’s website on 1 July 2016 for a minimum of 20 working days public consultation.
Consideration was given to the significant governance issues listed on the final page of the Annual Governance Statement.
· Delivery of the Transformation Programme – the Chief Accountant advised that this was being regularly considered by the Performance Monitoring and Policy Development Panels and the Cabinet, therefore additional involvement by the Governance and Audit Committee was not required.
· Strengthening of the Housing Revenue Account – It was within the Committee’s remit (as detailed within the Council’s Constitution) to review the Draft HRA Estimates and Business Plan on an annual basis. Quarterly monitoring was also undertaken by the Council and reports were considered by the Commercialisation and Growth Group. As a result, it was felt that there was no additional work for the Committee to undertake however, it could be provided with further detail if required. Further information could be seen as part of the quarterly financial monitoring.
· Continuing impact of reduced government funding, reductions in housing rents and implications of right to buy and other national housing policies – the Chief Accountant advised that there were a number of issues relating to this point – 1) Continued Right to Buy sales were resulting in a reduction in the amount of housing rents collected by the Authority; 2) Efforts to stimulate the economy by reducing rent levels was also resulting in less income; and c) There was a shortfall as a result of the Authority not being able, in some instances, to increase sewerage charges (non-mains drainage) – it was necessary for rates to be standardised in order that tenants payed the required amount for the size of their property. The Chief Accountant advised that he was looking into this issue, and that a report would be forthcoming to the Committee in the future.
· Devolution – as the devolution process became clearer, the Committee would be involved as the work progressed.
a) That the report be noted; and
b) That following consideration of the Significant Governance issues contained within the report, the following actions/reports be undertaken during 2016/17:
i. That the Chief Accountant provides a report to the Committee in due course concerning the shortfall in income received for sewerage charges, and how the issue could be resolved; and
ii. That as the Devolution process becomes clearer, the Committee be involved as work progressed.