(a) That the content of the Disabled Facilities Grants Internal Audit report and the service control action plan be noted; and
(b) That the Committee receives an update report in six months’ time following consideration of the service control action plan by the Audit Committee.
The Senior Auditor presented the report summarising the findings of the 2017 Internal Audit report into the operation of Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) scheme and the management responses being put in place to address these findings.
She explained that the scope of the audit covered the administration of the scheme from the tender stage through to completion of work, asking Members to note that the service had been through period of transition. The areas highlighted for improvement were detailed in the report, along with the management control action plan which had been developed to respond to the findings.
The Service Manager, Enterprise & Regeneration provided explanation on a number of processes which were being rolled out to strengthen controls and compliance. These would also enable a better understanding of timescales to help improve performance against targets. Progress on other actions included a new procurement framework to speed up the process, hold contractors to account and achieve value for money. The establishment of a professional oversight board would help to review processes and monitor progress on the action plan. The Audit Committee had accepted the findings of the report and had scheduled an update in six months’ time, therefore it was suggested that this Committee may wish to consider an update at a later stage.
The Chief Executive cited the key issue as performance and he gave assurance that the report had been of particular concern and demonstrated the value of audit work. Due to concerns about the ownership and speed of responses to the findings, the professional oversight board had been set up to give a good response to the findings and were now tasked with reviewing and improving processes through a well-managed leaner mechanism and to seek improvement in performance and Flintshire’s ranking on DFGs over the longer term. A commitment had been given to show transparency of work and to review roles and responsibilities involving both Housing and Social Services.
Councillor Attridge agreed that the findings of the report were of concern and were being addressed within the action plan, and that the Audit Committee had been content with progress to date. He went on to give a commitment to seek an improvement in the DFG service which was a long-standing issue.
Councillor Palmer spoke about the need to maximise opportunities for local companies. Officers explained that the procurement framework would allocate work to local and regional companies.
In response to remarks by Councillor Dolphin on previously adapted Council owned properties that were now void, the Service Manager gave assurance that there was a process in place for reviewing options and matching up with the most appropriate applicant. He also responded to a similar query by Councillor Hardcastle on recycling stair lifts removed from properties to be used by others in need.
The Service Manager provided clarification to Councillor Paul Shotton on relocation grants and top-up loans which were available for more complex DFGs exceeding the £36K threshold - neither of which were widely requested.
During discussion, Councillor Attridge ... view the full minutes text for item 15