[To receive an annual internal audit opinion on the adequacy and effectiveness of the Council’s governance, risk management and internal control processes]
Peter Farrow, Head of Audit presented the report that provided the Committee with an annual internal audit opinion on the adequacy and effectiveness of the Council’s governance, risk management and internal control processes.
During the discussion on the report, John Humphries, Independent Member reported that the audit review ‘Vetting of Foster Carers’ was particularly pertinent in light of the Supreme Court judgement in the legal case Armes -v- Nottinghamshire County Council, where the Council was held to be legally liable for harm/injury to a looked after child caused by the foster carer during their placement. He asked whether the risk had moved in profile on the Council’s risk register. Hayley Reid, Senior Auditor reported that it was included in the Corporate risk register. The Head of Audit added that the report containing the findings from the audit work had been considered by the Council’s Strategic Executive Board and the Leader of the Council. Audit Services had worked with Looked After Childrens’ Service and there was confidence that the issues highlighted from the review were being addressed. There was a clear process in place to ensure that the Council viewed assessment forms on externally recruited foster carers with whom it placed looked after children.
The Head of Audit explained the background to audit review ‘St Patrick’s Primary School’ and gave an update on progress with the implementation of the agreed recommendations. The vast majority had been actioned by the new Head Teacher. The Head of Audit also explained the cyclical programme of Audit Services visits to schools. Where requests were made for earlier visits or revisits, the programme would be rescheduled to facilitate that.
Councillor Obaida Ahmed asked whether the background details to the audit reviews listed in the report could be made available to the Committee. The Head of Audit explained that the report before the Committee was a summary of the audit work carried out during 2017/2018. If members wished to receive any of the individual detailed audit reports he invited them to contact him direct.
Responding to questions from the Chair, the Head of Audit confirmed that the Head Teacher at Stow Heath Primary School had approached Audit Services to undertake the audit. The Head of Audit also commented on his team’s performance against the indicator ‘time to complete audit reports’. He explained that there are occasionally unforeseen issues which take time to resolve. However, he would monitor the position and make sure his team are aware of the need to turnaround audit reports within target. He also confirmed that he had the resources to complete the audit plan.
That the contents of the Annual Internal Audit Report and the overall opinion that “based on the work undertaken during the year, the implementation by management of the recommendations made and the assurance made available to the council by other providers as well as directly by Internal Audit, Internal Audit can provide reasonable assurance that the Council has adequate and effective governance, risk management and internal control processes” be noted.