Issue - meetings
Internal Audit Progress Report
That the report be accepted.
The Internal Audit, Performance & Risk Manager presented the regular update on progress against the Plan, final reports issued, action tracking, performance indicators and current investigations.
Sally Ellis raised concerns about the number of outstanding live actions some of which were high priority. The Internal Audit, Performance & Risk Manager said that the process relied on service managers to update the system; this was an issue continually raised with the senior officer team. She acknowledged the importance of setting realistic deadlines as did the Chief Executive who assured the Committee that he would continue to work with the Chief Officer team to improve response times.
The only Red (limited assurance opinion) report issued during the period was a review of homeless and temporary accommodation which had been requested by the Housing & Prevention Service Manager following his appointment in 2020. The Senior Auditor provided background to the scope of the review which had focussed on the adequacy and effectiveness of controls to manage increased demands on the service during the pandemic and to meet emerging issues such as future ‘Rapid Rehousing’ requirements in Wales. The review identified that improved controls were needed to ensure the effective management of the temporary accommodation portfolio and that operational practices were not sufficiently robust to meet increased demand and potential growth of portfolio capacity. In addition, management information was not available to oversee control effectiveness of temporary accommodation rent collection, void and lease management. The actions - which had been escalated to the Chief Executive in his former role as Chief Officer (Housing & Assets) at that time - had been endorsed by Overview & Scrutiny.
In thanking all those involved in the review, the Housing & Prevention Service Manager gave an overview of actions within the robust and ambitious Service Improvement Plan which had been developed to address the findings.
Sally Ellis acknowledged the complexities of homelessness and the significant pressures on those delivering the service. In response to questions, the Service Manager spoke about the range of temporary accommodation currently available and the increase in demand during the pandemic which was experienced nationwide. He provided clarification on the documenting of Health & Safety processes, workforce development and resilience to meet the demands upon the service and increased engagement with private sector landlords. He said that whilst the timescales were challenging, they were achievable and that good progress had been made since publication of the report.
Councillor Ian Roberts extended his personal thanks to the Chief Executive and housing officers for their exceptional commitment and dedication to tackling homelessness. In accepting the findings of the report and acknowledging the impact from the pandemic, he also recognised the Council’s responsibilities on the health and safety of tenants and as a County of Sanctuary to support those in need.
The Chief Executive gave assurance that the team was committed to working through the issues and delivering the improvements, whilst continuing to manage the service under challenging circumstances. He thanked the Senior Auditor and Service Manager for their work on the review and ... view the full minutes text for item 63