Issue - meetings
Certification of Grant Claims and Returns 2013/14
The Committee wishes to state its disappointment and concerns on the findings of the report, despite previous recommendations and actions. Accordingly, it recommends that in the event of any further findings, the Chief Executive and responsible Chief Officer be requested to attend the Audit Committee to give appropriate explanation.
The Corporate Finance Manager introduced the Wales Audit Office (WAO) annual report on the grant claim certification for the year ending 31 March 2014. He confirmed that the findings of the report had been considered by the Corporate Finance Management Team and that appropriate actions had been put in place which would be subject to monitoring. A total of 19 grants had been certified with a net adjustment to claims of £0.224m, which was a relatively small proportion of the total £183m, of which £0.200m related to the timing of the receipt of grant income. Having acknowledged that further work was required to address the issues raised by WAO, Council officers had worked with WAO colleagues to identify control measures to be implemented immediately. In addition, all officers dealing with grants would be obliged to attend forthcoming training sessions with WAO.
Ms. Amanda Hughes of WAO expressed her disappointment on the findings of the overall report. Although it was noted that the Council had generally adequate arrangements in place for the production and submission of its 2013-14 grant claims, she said there was a need to further embed and improve the arrangements which had been adopted following recommendations in reports for previous years. Of the 19 claims submitted, ten were qualified and nine unqualified, of which five were subject to amendment. Ms. Hughes referred to her work with the Finance team to assist with the arrangements and identify improvements such as the training sessions, as a result of which she was confident that claims for 2014/15 would see a marked improvement.
In response to a question by Councillor Haydn Bateman, Ms. Hughes explained the grant claim process relating to Families First where a number of transactions had been identified outside the 2013/14 period and should not have been included as expenditure within that grant claim. The Corporate Finance Manager confirmed that the officer dealing with this matter had been made aware of the issue. Ms. Hughes went on to respond to queries on other grant claims explaining the need for the Council to adhere to rules applied to grant claims.
Councillor Alison Halford felt that there were major issues with grant claims and that the situation was unacceptable in light of the issues raised in previous years, questioning the root of the problem. Ms. Hughes said that the grant claims rules were not too complex and that the issues may have arisen due to a lack of understanding of the requirements for grant expenditure and following up the rules. She referred to the Grant Completion Checklist which had previously been implemented to accompany and verify grant claims and explained that it had not been used consistently or correctly completed. Having discussed this with the Chief Executive, Corporate Finance Manager and his team, all were keen to ensure this was quickly resolved. A pre-audit check certified by a senior Finance officer was also due to be introduced to identify any issues prior to the audit.
Councillor Halford commented on the expectation ... view the full minutes text for item 10