Agenda item

Quarterly Internal Audit Update Report


Simon Webb from East Kent Audit Partnership introduced the report, making the following key points:

  • This had been a busy quarter, with 10 reviews taking place.
  • Substantial assurance had been reported in 2 significant areas, council tax and the payment of housing benefits.
  • Reasonable assurance was concluded for playgrounds and creditors.
  • Limited assurance was given in two areas, equality & diversity and right to buy.
  • There was no assurance concluded in the area of street cleansing.
  • 3 further reviews were undertaken where an assurance opinion wasn’t applicable. These were:
  • GDPR and the impact of home working on it.
  • A position statement on the Council's controls to tackle climate change.
  • Quarterly housing benefit testing 21/22 Q1&2.
  • There were also four follow ups undertaken in this report.
  • Progress against the Internal audit plan shows that it was behind schedule at 31 Dec 2021, but had moved ahead of the target at 28 Feb 2022.
  • The limited areas which are yet to be followed up would be shared with the committee in the coming meetings.


Members raised questions and the following points were made:

  • All playgrounds in the district are subject to regular inspections by qualified council staff and also an external inspection annually. In general the reports from these inspections are available, but are not routinely published.
  • There was one exception, which was that the report on the Ethelbert crescent viking ship playground in Cliftonville had been made available on the TDC website.
  • Information on expired certificates would be given in writing to the Chair.
  • Staff qualified to undertake inspections had been given the training to do so by TDC, while in post.
  • Historically some playgrounds have been transferred to parish or town councils, but there were none planned to be at this time.
  • It was commented that the street cleansing audit didn’t reflect the hard work undertaken across broader areas of service delivery, but focussed primarily on mechanical sweepers.
  • Thanks was noted for the Council’s work on fly tipping.
  • It was noted that the audit looked for key controls in setting standards, delivering, measuring and reporting on performance, rather than operational service delivery.  These controls were missing. However, are in the agreed action plan which would be implemented going forward.
  • There were also some technological improvements to the service and service monitoring that were already well underway and would be implemented shortly.
  • Madeline Homer, Chief executive, added that she felt that the process was reassuring and although issues had been rightly raised around controls, the complexity of the service and resourcing issues needed to be taken into account as well.
  • TDC Service Standards, setting the level of cleanliness against the Code of Practice, had not yet been published. Doing so was part of the action plan, with a target date prior to September.
  • The support of residents was noted as a requirement for the future.
  • Of 68,000 properties there were 10,000 without the usual bin collection set-up. Ensuring that the waste for these properties was dealt with appropriately involved a combination of enforcement and education. 
  • Work had also been carried out with the housing team to support this and the selective licences remaining in the Cliftonville area also required the landlord to maintain reasonable arrangements for the storage of refuse; another avenue for enforcement action.
  • The budget had been considered when deciding whether to charge for bins.
  • Figures on fly tipping in the district sat within a different service area but would be available. Improvements to means of enforcement in this area had also been made and had positively impacted Council resources.
  • The follow-up on the street cleansing audit would take place later in the year, once actions had been implemented. The Progress Report would be presented to the committee at the appropriate meeting.
  • Questions were raised regarding the value for money in the investment in mechanical sweepers and it was noted that the abrasive nature of coastal work had meant that the smaller vehicles were not suitable. The Council were looking into larger vehicles and new technologies to combat this issue, but were also faced with the challenge of getting the support of an older workforce for these changes.
  • Working with the community and partners on targeted impact had been very well received and the successes could have been communicated better.
  • Equality and diversity training was being looked at with the HR team to encourage uptake and would be delivered as an in-person course.
  • TDC would also consider the suitability of e-learning going forward, in light of the flexible working policy.
  • Bob Porter, Director of Housing and Planning, would look at the figures in the right to buy table in the report, and confirm their explanation with members.

Cllr Kup proposed, Cllr Dexter seconded and members received the report and AGREED that any changes to the agreed 2021-22 internal audit plan, resulting from changes in perceived risk, detailed at point 5.0 of Annex 1 of the attached report be approved.

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