Agenda and minutes

Audit Committee - Friday, 19th November, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Committee Room, County Hall, Lewes. View directions

Contact: Simon Bailey  Democratic Services Officer

No. Item


Minutes of the previous meeting held on 17 September 2021 pdf icon PDF 140 KB


20.1     RESOLVED to agree the minutes as a correct record.


Apologies for absence


21.1     Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Matthew Beaver and Gerard Fox.


21.2     It was noted that Councillor Paul Redstone was present as a substitute for Councillor Beaver.


Disclosures of interests

Disclosures by all members present of personal interests in matters on the agenda, the nature of any interest and whether the member regards the interest as prejudicial under the terms of the Code of Conduct.



22.1     There were none.


Urgent items

Notification of items which the Chair considers to be urgent and proposes to take at the appropriate part of the agenda. Any members who wish to raise urgent items are asked, wherever possible, to notify the Chair before the start of the meeting. In so doing, they must state the special circumstances which they consider justify the matter being considered urgent.



23.1     There were none.




24.1     Reports referred to in the minutes below are contained in the minute book.



Treasury Management Stewardship Report 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 654 KB

Report by the Chief Finance Officer


25.1     The Committee considered a report by the Chief Finance Officer, which presented the Strategy which supports the management of risk and the security of the Council’s funds, while ensuring liquidity to meet the authority’s obligations and providing a yield.  The Chief Finance Officer highlighted: the above benchmark rates of return on investments; the paying back of debts at higher rates to interest, to reduce the overall burden and average rate of interest; and the £30 million invested with Standard Chartered to address ESG concerns.


25.2     The Committee discussed:

25.2.1  The investment with Standard Chartered (SC) – the Council has invested in a Fixed Term Deposit earmarked against their Sustainable Investment portfolio.  The Council’s only exposure is to Standard Chartered and not to the organisations in which SC are investing. The Council will be assessing future opportunities to invest in green bond funds, and other funds that are investing in sustainable products. It was confirmed that this agenda is being pushed with our advisors, Link Asset Services. Members of the Committee encouraged officers to explore working with other authorities to stimulate the market for investment opportunities. 


25.3     The Committee RESOLVED to note the report.



Internal Audit Progress Report - Quarter 2 2021/22 (01.07.21 - 30.09.21) pdf icon PDF 570 KB

Report by the Chief Operating Officer

Additional documents:


26.1     The Committee considered a report by the Chief Internal Auditor.


26.2     The Committee discussed:

26.2.1  Audits conducted during the pandemic, and keeping the Committee appraised of ongoing work – the Chief Internal Auditor assured the Committee that the Team delivered all the key work that allowed him to deliver his annual opinion. The Team has now adjusted to delivering all its audit work remotely, including with schools which has been successful.  The Chief Internal Auditor also remarked on the work undertaken to produce the final reports which are presented to the Committee in the form of field work and report drafting. The Chief Internal Auditor confirmed his intention to conduct a session in the New Year with committee members to discuss items for the forthcoming Audit Plan. 

26.2.2  Mandate Fraud, and whether following the correct process would have prevented the fraud, and whether there were other mandate frauds where payment had been made to the wrong account – controls are in place to identify and stop any future mandate frauds, and clear instructions issued to remind officers to follow the agreed processes.

26.2.3  Emergency procurement, and similarities with issues at a national level – the Chief Internal Auditor drew attention to the Council’s Anti Fraud and Corruption Strategy and the comprehensive Code of Conduct which covers clearly issues of relationships with contractors.  He also highlighted the requirements of the Declarations of Interests processes for officers and members, and the Council’s participation in the National Fraud Initiative. The Audit Manager confirmed that the emphasis of the review was on compliance with statutory requirements, rather than concerns over corruption.

26.2.4  The Risk Management Framework, and the emphasis given to climate change such as adaptation/mitigation and to the natural environment – the Chief Operating Officer set out the purpose of the Framework and the Register which includes the climate risk which will have an impact on the Council’s strategic objectives. The Chief Internal Auditor confirmed the purpose of the Team’s review, in looking at the process by which the authority identifies and manages risk rather than the Team investigating each risk within the Register. The Audit Plan is a risk-based plan, so the issue will be engaged with in future planning.

26.2.5  Amendments to the Audit Plan – the recent additions will form part of future reports to the Committee.  The Chief Internal Auditor set out the scope of the Team’s capabilities and the targeting of resources.  Investigations sometimes indicate a wider review would be an effective response to a potential risk, so they are added to the Plan. 

26.2.6  Deprivation of capital, and differing outcomes – there is no single approach that suits all cases.  The Team’s role is to provide the evidence for the Service to take a decision on how to proceed, given the Service’s specialist and expert knowledge.

26.3     The Committee RESOLVED to note the report.



Property Asset Disposal and Property update pdf icon PDF 130 KB

Report by the Chief Operating Officer

Additional documents:


27.1     The Committee considered a report by the Chief Operating Officer, together with exempt information contained in a later agenda item. 


27.2     The Assistant Director Property set out the three main strands of work, and the change in approach to disposals of assets for a capital receipt, adopting a programme management approach to the sequencing of disposals. He also set out the department’s consideration of surplus properties, and whether they could be used for income generation or community use.  Rental income has increased, which allows the Council to increase its asset base.


27.3     The Assistant Director also highlighted the Property Services’ response to the pandemic in addressing changing patterns of working.  The Assistant Director also set out the outcomes of the senior leadership review, and the establishment of the following roles: Head of Operational Management and Workplace; Head of Asset Management and Performance; and Head of Disposals and Estates. 


27.4     The Assistant Director drew attention to the recent reviews by the National Audit Office and Public Works Loan Board into local authority borrowing to fund commercial investments.  He confirmed there are no immediate proposals to acquire commercial assets.            


27.5     The Committee discussed:

27.5.1  Valuations on properties to be disposed of, and the timeliness of such disposals given market uncertainty – The Assistant Director set out that the majority of disposals are for residential developments, which is still a buoyant market.  Any disposal by auction is subject to a high reserve price, to ensure a reasonable return.  The market for small industrial units and yards is also holding up.

27.5.2  Working with district and borough councils, and the provision of infrastructure – The Assistant Director highlighted the SPACES programme, which focusses on sharing asset knowledge and utilisation with other public sector bodies (authorities, blue light, health and educational). 

27.5.3  Use of capital receipts – The Assistant Director and Chief Finance Officer set out the contributions of disposals to the overall Capital Programme and Medium Term Financial Plan.


27.6     The Committee RESOLVED to note the report.



Work programme pdf icon PDF 555 KB


28.1     The Committee considered the Work Programme of forthcoming meetings.


28.2     The Committee RESOLVED to note the Programme.


Exclusion of public and press

To consider excluding the public and press from the meeting for the remaining agenda item on the grounds that if the public and press were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as specified in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), namely information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).



29.1     It was RESOLVED to exclude the public and press for the remaining agenda items on the grounds that if the public and press were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as specified in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), namely information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).


Property Asset Disposal and Property update - exempt information

Report by the Chief Operating Officer


30.1     The Committee considered a report by the Chief Operating Officer which provided exempt information in support of an earlier agenda item.


30.2     The Committee RESOLVED to note the information.