Agenda and draft minutes

Dorset Council - Audit and Governance Committee
Monday, 16th November, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: A link to the meeting can be found on the front page of the agenda.. View directions

Contact: Fiona King  01305 224186 - Email: fiona.king@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

29.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

No apologies for absence were received at the meeting.

30.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 148 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2020 were confirmed and signed.

31.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

No declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests were made at the meeting.

32.

Public Participation

To receive questions or statements on the business of the committee from town and parish councils and members of the public.

Public speaking has been suspended for virtual committee meetings during the Covid-19 crisis and public participation will be dealt with through written submissions only.

 Members of the public who live, work or represent an organisation within the Dorset Council area, may submit up to two questions or a statement of up to a maximum of 450 words.  All submissions must be sent electronically to fiona.king@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk  by the deadline set out below. 

When submitting a question please indicate who the question is for and include your name, address and contact details.  Questions and statements received in line with the council’s rules for public participation will be published as a supplement to the agenda.

Questions will be read out by an officer of the council and a response given by the appropriate Portfolio Holder or officer at the meeting.  All questions, statements and responses will be published in full within the minutes of the meeting. 

The deadline for submission of the full text of a question or statement is 8.30am on Thursday 12 November 2020.

 

Minutes:

There were no representations from parish or town councils or from members of the public.

33.

Dorset Council Statement of Accounts pdf icon PDF 88 KB

To consider a report from the Executive Director, Corporate Development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report and received a presentation on the outturn and the accounts.

 

Members were advised that despite an overspend during the year, the delivery of more than £10m of savings from the reorganisation had been achieved.   COVID-19 was also likely to have a long and sustained impact on the council’s finances and officers were still unclear about the levels of funding the Council would receive from Government in the future.

 

Members received a presentation from the Corporate Director for Finance and Commercial explaining the background to the achievement of producing the first set of accounts for Dorset Council. This presentation is attached as an annexure to these minutes.

 

Following a question about earmarked reserves, the Corporate Director explained these included insurance reserves, PFI reserves and reserves to support particular risks and mitigation. Money in reserves included grant income that hasn’t yet been spent.

 

In respect of continued assets, the Corporate Director confirmed that Section 106 monies was money that has not been received yet but if everything proceeded as expected it will.

 

The Service Manager for Finance, Policy and Compliance explained the ‘reduction in current assets’ mostly related to changes in how the Council has accounted for the collection funds, and the reduction of temporary investments in which all short- term investments were reduced except for those with UBS Global Asset Management and CCLA Diversified Income Fund which have both increased.

 

Following a question from the Chairman regarding whether all the LGR costs had now been paid out, the Corporate Director confirmed they had but some would continue as arrangements were in place between councils on how some things were done.

 

Members received a presentation from the external auditors, Deloitte, on their audit the year ending March 2020.  The audit was on track to be signed by the end of November. The officer congratulated the finance team for preparing a complex set of accounts in difficult circumstances.  He highlighted the key messages and significant risks within the report.   Members were advised that when this audit is was completed Deloitte would produce a report to outline the final conclusions.

 

One member expressed concern about uncollected revenue and what percentage was owed by council tax-payers and what measures were being taken to recover these debts. The Executive Director for Corporate Development highlighted a general point about collecting council tax in that at present we were in exceptional times and officers were tracking but not actively pursuing collections given the economic frailty.  The Council needed to wait until a more normal time to actively pursue.  Officers were forecasting around £13m worth of council tax and business rates could be at risk but would continue to be monitored.

 

In response to a concern about the under estimated spend in Adults and Children, the Executive Director explained that demand forecasting was something the team were working on.  There was a huge degree of volatility in these areas and when setting up for Dorset Council there clearly wasn’t enough put in for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.

34.

Annual Audit Letters pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider the Deloitte external auditor annual audit letters in relation to the 2019-20 accounts for the legacy sovereign authorities of Dorset Council.

Minutes:

The Executive Director for Corporate Development explained that this item had been debated in the previous item as part of the Council’s Statement of Accounts.

 

35.

Banking and Treasury Management Update pdf icon PDF 208 KB

Ton consider a report from the Executive Director, Corporate Development.

Minutes:

Members considered a report from the Executive Director for Corporate Development  which summarised the treasury management performance and position information for Dorset Council for the year to 30 September 2020.  It also provided an update on the transition of banking services to one provider.

 

Following a question from the Chairman regarding LEP balances the Service Manager for Treasury and Investment advised that the LEP had its own bank accounts but as Dorset was the administering authority for this group they formed part of the interest group with Nat West.  In response to a question regarding the levels of borrowing in Table 3 of the report, the Service Manager advised that the interest rates were not known but could be presented at a later date.

 

In the light of recent events, the Vice-Chairman asked about insurance and queried where this sat and how it was reviewed.   The Corporate Director Finance and Commercial, advised that insurance provision was reviewed independently by internal audit and also by the external auditors.  He thought it might be helpful to add an item about insurance to a future agenda to aid members’ understanding.  The Chairman felt this would be helpful and asked that some form of the ‘what’s’ and ‘whys’ to the self-insure system would also be helpful.

 

Noted

36.

EU Exit - Update pdf icon PDF 178 KB

To receive an update from the Executive Director – Place.

Minutes:

Members considered a report from the Executive Director for Place which summarised the challenges and actions taken by the Council during this transition period, which was due to end on 31 December 2020.

 

Unfortunately, the Executive Director for Place was unable to attend due to a family bereavement and had asked that members forward ay questions direct to him for response.

 

Noted

37.

Constitutional Changes

To report to the committee on any changes made to the Constitution under powers delegated to the Monitoring Officer.

Minutes:

The Corporate Director for Legal and Democratic advised members of a change to the Constitution that he had made using his delegated authority.  The Corporate Director advised that he could use this authority to make changes to the Constitution where necessary to provide alignment and changes to procedures. 

 

This change related to the new Overview and Scrutiny Committees. Following discussion with the relevant Chairmen it was agreed that the monitoring of the performance of services should sit with the Scrutiny Committees rather than with the Overview Committees.

 

Noted

38.

Financial Report - Quarter 2 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To review and scrutinise the Quarter 2 finance report as presented to Cabinet on 3 November 2020.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee reviewed the Quarter 2 Finance Report, which had been presented to Cabinet on3 November 2020.

 

The Cabinet paper reported an overspend of £27.6m for 2020/21; an improvement of £15.5m since quarter 1.  The report itself summarised the main changes since the previous quarter and set out analysis by individual directorate for the Committee’s review. 

Despite the improvement in the period, only a small amount of this reduced financial pressure for 2021/22 – because for example, underspends on the contingency budget were already built into the budget process.

 

The Executive Director for Corporate Development explained that there were also additional items affecting the finance teams during the current pandemic including receiving significant funding from the Government to pass on to others.

 

Following a question regarding the forecasting of overspends, The Executive Director advised that in Adults and Children in particular there had been additional demand especially in relation to the process of securing places for people coming out of hospital.  In Legal and Democratic, currently the costs of PPE and storage in respect of excess deaths had been charged to this service as their budget was quite small.  In respect of the Place Directorate, there had been a loss of income in respect of car parking as a result of the current pandemic. Cllr Sutton thanked the Director for the explanation which she felt would be useful in trying to manage the public’s expectations.

 

In response to a question from the Chairman regarding whether there was an early indication that the second lockdown will have an adverse effect of the figures, the Executive Director for Corporate Development highlighted the differences between Covid and non Covid spend. The majority of pressures the Council was experiencing were Covid related. In terms of the impact of the second lockdown the Government were providing additional funding, but the key variable was business rates and council tax and whether the lockdown carried on beyond early December. If not he felt there was enough cautionary measures in place to manage.

 

In respect of unachievable savings, the Acting Corporate Director of Commissioning advised that £2m of savings were significantly impacted due to Covid, efficiencies had been made in respect of utilisation and the changes to how services were delivered.  The service had already gone through a significant amount of change and a number of areas were highlighted in respect of increased workflow.   The CCG received additional funding for hospital discharges and plans were in place to recover this. It was important to ensure that the correct support and rehabilitation took place at the right time.

 

In terms of the cost of agency staff, the Executive Director for Corporate Development undertook to provide details outside of the meeting.

 

In response to a question regarding the amount of funding town and Parish Council were likely to receive, the Corporate Director for Finance and Commercial advised that officers were working with the DAPTC and had agreed that information would be shared with them by 3 December 2020. Returns would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.

39.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To consider the work programme for the Committee.

Minutes:

The Committee’s Forward Plan was reviewed and the following additions noted:-

 

Additions:

  • Insurance strategy – an overview to be provided in January
  • Item on borrowing, Cllr Parkes to email further information to the Chairman
  • An update on points raised by Deloitte in their report

 

Noted

40.

Urgent items

To consider any items of business which the Chairman has had prior notification and considers to be urgent pursuant to section 100B (4) b) of the Local Government Act 1972. The reason for the urgency shall be recorded in the minutes.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items of business.