Agenda item

Annual Governance Statement 2018/19


That the Committee recommends to the Council the Annual Governance Statement 2018/19 to be attached to the Statement of Accounts.


The Corporate Business & Communications Executive Officer presented the Annual Government Statement (AGS) 2018/19 for recommendation to County Council to accompany the Statement of Accounts.  The process in preparing the AGS involved consultation with Statutory and Chief Officers, Service Managers and Overview & Scrutiny Chairs, with oversight by the Corporate Governance Working Group.


The AGS was based on the seven core principles of good governance on which the Council scored 3 (acceptable) and above on all, with areas of strength highlighted throughout the document.  Areas identified for further improvement were derived from four sources including the outstanding ‘red’ risks in the Council Plan 2018/19 end of year report and not 2017/18 as stated.  An update on progress on the areas for improvement identified in the 2017/18 AGS was also included.  A mid-year update would give assurance to the Committee that risks were being monitored and addressed.


In thanking the team for their work on this complex document, the Chief Executive said that the aim was to continually seek further improvement even where an acceptable score had been achieved.  The dashboard identified the main concerns as capacity and resources.  Whilst the assessment against Principle A was not intended to be judgemental, there was a need to give a true reflection on the conduct and culture of the organisation.  The aim to improve behavioural standards was being actioned through discussions with Group Leaders, officers and the Chair of the Council.  The Chief Executive welcomed the commitment to improve the areas identified and commended others which reflected best practice.


Sally Ellis welcomed the Chief Executive’s acknowledgement of the issues.  Whilst she had no major concerns, she highlighted the importance of owning actions.  In his role as Monitoring Officer, the Chief Officer (Governance) referred to the various codes/protocols on agreed behaviour and conduct, and the discussions referred to take ownership and encourage meeting those standards.


On workforce planning, actions within the People Strategy were led by the Chief Executive and Senior Manager, Human Resources & Organisational Development and owned by all Chief Officers.  Although progress had been made on succession planning, there were risks due to the lean structure of the Council and the implications of external issues such as recruitment in Housing.  An update on the People Strategy including workforce planning would be considered by the Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee.


On Principle F on change management, Sally acknowledged the work on risk management but was concerned about the number of ‘red’ audit reports with issues around implementation and transition.  The Chief Executive said that this was about scale and he spoke about the Council’s positive track record on transition through major policy/service changes.  The Internal Audit Manager advised that no issues had been raised on Alternative Delivery Models and that Principle F supported her annual audit opinion.  Red assurance reports such as that reported later on the agenda were isolated cases and there were no concerns about aggregation, however any red reports issued during the year had been separately identified within the AGS.


Councillor Heesom spoke about the importance of the AGS which he said was officer driven and lacked Member involvement.  He said that as Members were accountable for the AGS, they should be given opportunity to contribute to the self-assessment process.  He stressed the importance of managing risks and had major concerns about the risk issues contained in the document.


The Chief Executive said that the Committee had previously agreed the process for preparing the AGS which was a culmination of information already in existence, for example risk assessments which were reviewed by Overview & Scrutiny and Cabinet.


Councillor Dunbobbin referred to the Committee’s role in seeking assurance that process was being followed, which differed to the remit of Overview & Scrutiny committees.


The Chief Officer (Governance) spoke about the complexity of the internal control environment where key responsibilities were allocated across the organisation with an overall view by the Audit Committee.  The contributors to an effective Governance Framework within the AGS set out those roles, most of which involved Members.  The liaison group comprising the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Audit Committee and Overview & Scrutiny Chairs helped to ensure that risks were sufficiently allocated and managed.


The Executive Officer said that the number of risks which had been identified demonstrated the open and transparent approach taken by the Council, supported by action plans.


The Chairman referred to the importance of the governance principles across the Council and the need to work together in moving forward.




That the Committee recommends to the Council the Annual Governance Statement 2018/19 to be attached to the Statement of Accounts.

Supporting documents: