To consider a report from the Service Manager for Assurance.
Members considered a report from the Corporate Director for Legal and Democratic which set out the key features of the governance framework in place in the Authority and provided a review of its effectiveness.
Members were advised this was the first Annual Governance Statement for the newly formed Dorset Council and had been based on the previous County Council’s statement. Since March the report had been updated due to the Covid 19 campaign.
The Chairman made reference to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and asked when members were likely to see them and if they would be available for the July meeting. The Service Manager for Assurance advised that within the risk management update it was key that there were appropriate links between risk and performance. The aim was to align KPIs with the top level corporate risks and that would provide an overview for members.
Cllr Heatley commented that he had expected to see how things had gone with the new council and was a bit confused about what this particular document was for. His understanding was that the review was what we were doing now and felt that this should this be reflected in the Annual Governance Statement. The Service Manager for Assurance advised that this was the case and that this report was very much a first draft for this committee and he was happy to incorporate members’ comments. He had aimed to keep the document quite succinct and the accompanying Local Code of Governance went into more detail. Cllr Heatley noted that whilst risk management was the next item on the agenda he felt it also needed to be included with this document. He was aware that the Council did not yet have the management information needed to meet what was required in the Corporate Plan but felt that systems of control and management information needed to demonstrate progress in achieving the objectives of the Corporate Plan but felt that systems of control and management needed to be included in this Statement. He also felt there was very little recognition that this was a new Council. The Service Manager for Assurance offered to look at this area further and to include the experience that Dorset Council has had during the year.
Cllr Gray noted that the document talked about efficiencies and effectiveness but did not mention value for money. The Executive Director for Corporate Development advised that this document accompanied the annual accounts when they are completed later in the year. The financial documents would tell the story of how the organisation had evolved along with the value for money element. Cllr Gray was still concerned that value for money was bot being recognised enough and felt it needed to be part of all documents in the future.
Cllr Christopher advised that in respect of value for money members needed to bear in mind that this would be commented on by the external auditors. He highlighted the importance of the Council dealing with their suppliers and that the review of credit balances on debtors ledgers were also important aspects for consideration. The Service Manager for Assurance advised members that he would liaise with the various theme leads and report back to members.
Cllr Cocking was supportive of Cllr Gray’s comments regarding value for money. This was tax payers money that was being spent and she felt that value for money should be at the heart of all that we do.
Following a comment about the inclusion of the change to the structure of the overview and scrutiny committees the Service Manager for Assurance advised this was detailed in the Local Code of Governance.
That the Service Manager for Assurance reflect on and incorporate comments made by members in a revised Annual Governance Statement to be brought back to this Committee on 7 July 2020.
Reason for Decision
Approval and publication of an AGS by the Council is a statutory requirement and provides evidence that Dorset Council maintains high standards of governance and addresses significant shortcomings and risks.