CIPFA Review of Governance Action Plan - Quarterly Progress Update
To consider the quarterly progress update report.
Andrew Vallance, Head of Finance, explained that the CIPFA action plan had been approved by Cabinet and this report was the second update that the Panel had received on the action plan. The Medium Term Financial Plan and Budget were now complete and approved, while the Transformation Strategy was also approved in September 2020 and the accompanying action plan would be considered by the Cabinet Transformation Sub Committee soon. In terms of financial management improvements, there were still a few items outstanding due to staff being required to focus on tasks related to the pandemic. Most partnership arrangements had now been completed. The final item on the action plan was the governance arrangements of the property company, with consultants being appointed. Internal audit had also now commenced.
Councillor Singh joined the meeting.
Councillor L Jones said that there had been an improvement of reporting around capital programme management. She asked if officers believed that the Capital Programme Board had ensured that there was good decision making and monitoring. Councillor L Jones also asked if there was an ongoing review of partnership arrangements and if there was the budget available to support further training if it was required.
Andrew Vallance said that he was the Chairman of the Capital Programme Board so he hoped that it had ensured good decision making, while the information going to Cabinet had been improved. Partnership arrangements would be monitored by the Adults, Children and Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel.
Adele Taylor said that the review was a reassurance at that point in time and partnership arrangements would be part of contract management and reviewed on an ongoing basis using several factors. Member training would be a blended approach while there was also a need for Members on Committees to receive relevant training.
Councillor Hilton said that the document was now around six months old and what was important to see was the direction of travel. There were a few milestones in the report, with one of which being the Pension Panel and the work that had been done to improve governance. As part of this work, a new Pension Manager had been appointed. Councillor Hilton explained that he was on the Achieving for Children Board and that he had learnt a lot, with the quality of information and financial strategy showing where they were.
Councillor Werner raised concern that the meeting was an Overview and Scrutiny Panel and therefore Cabinet Members were there to answer questions that the Panel might have. Councillor Werner therefore believed that there was no need for what he felt were speeches from Cabinet Members unless they had been asked a question. Councillor Werner asked for the Monitoring Officers view.
Emma Duncan replied by explaining that the purpose of scrutiny was to gather as much information and evidence as possible. It was important for scrutiny members to ask the right questions to scrutinise decisions effectively.
Councillor L Jones agreed with Councillor Werner’s comments and believed that it extended the length of the meeting for no reason. She said that statements had been made that were not related to questions that the Panel had asked.
Councillor Rayner commented that training was very important through a variety of methods.
The Chairman asked when the Panel would see the next version of the CIPFA Action Plan.
Andrew Vallance said it would probably be in three to four months’ time as this was reported on a quarterly basis, depending on the date of meetings.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Panel reviewed the report and:
i) Noted the actions already taken in respect of the objectives set out, and those planned for the next quarter.