The Committee is asked to review and approve and the Annual Governance Statement, which is supported by the Local Code of Corporate Governance and the Directors’ Composite Assurance Statements.
Theresa Mortimer, Chief Internal Auditor (CIA), presented the report. It was explained that the Council was required under the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 to produce an Annual Governance Statement (AGS) which was a public statement, detailing how the Council directs and controls its resources, which was signed by the Leader of the Council, Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer. It was noted that the AGS was published alongside the Annual Statement of Accounts.
Members were informed that GCC operate through a governance framework that had been summarised within a revised Local Code of Corporate Governance 2018/2019 and the Directors Composite Assurance Statements, which was consistent with the seven core principles of the CIPFA/SOLACE Delivering Good Governance in Local Government framework, 2016 edition.
The CIA explained the Council’s Local Code of Corporate Governance was a public statement of the Council's commitment to these principles and specifically identified the key actions taken by GCC in relation to each of the core principles. It was noted that the code was reviewed and updated annually and should be read in conjunction with the AGS.
The CIA explained that to enable the development of the AGS, an embedded assurance framework was required, that not only provided the relevant assurances, but also a framework that underpinned and evidenced the statements made within the AGS.
A strengthened governance assurance process was implemented and provided a framework for the annual assessment of the effectiveness of the governance arrangements operating within the Council. This included the relevant Lead Cabinet Member overview and oversight and governance assurance statements obtained from Directors and Heads of Service
The CIA referred the Committee to page 243 of the report, which detailed the Council’s Governance Assurance Framework i.e. the three lines of defence model, which supports effective governance arrangements. Members commented that the report was detailed and wide ranging and welcomed the composite statements. During the discussion, it was noted that there was a typographical error on Page 256 of the report, in relation to the target saving amount. This has been rectified prior to formal publication. In response to a question in relation to independent challenge and management ownership of good governance, it was noted that during 2019/2020 internal audit would test the adequacy of the Directors and Heads of Service assurance statements.
Members were informed that the key 2018/2019 governance matters identified to further enhance the governance arrangements, related to:
1. Future Financial Sustainability;
2. Ofsted Inspection of Children’s Services;
3. Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS); and
4. The recruitment and retention of employees in hard to fill critical positions.
During the discussion the Committee suggested that developing cultures and member development should be highlighted within the future statements. The CIA advised that Principle E (Page 250) referred to the member development arrangements and that culture does form part of an effective control environment, however this would be more explicitly reflected in future year’s statements. In response to a question it was explained that the GFRS action plan would remain as a standing item on the Committee’s agenda until Members were satisfied that all agreed actions have been adequately addressed.
Members were reminded that the CIA had provided a detailed presentation on the AGS and the Local Code of Corporate Governance at the training session on 24th July 2019.
The Committee was reminded that the Statement of Accounts and AGS should be read in conjunction to give a balanced view. It was agreed, to accept the Annual Governance Statement and Local Code of Corporate Governance 2018/19 and Directors’ Composite Assurance Statements.
That the Committee reviewed and approved the Annual Governance Statement and Local Code of Corporate Governance 2018/19 and the Directors’ Composite Assurance Statements.