Agenda item

Internal Audit Progress Report


That the report is accepted.


The Internal Audit Manager presented the update on progress of the Internal Audit department.  On reports issued since the last meeting, there was one report with red (limited assurance) for school funds at Argoed High School which was amongst a sample of audits undertaken at four schools.


The Senior Auditor for the review (Rafaela Rice) provided background to the audit which had focussed on risks around the operation, management and regulatory requirements of school funds.  The weaknesses identified had been discussed with the Headteacher and newly-appointed Business Manager to agree a number of changes for improving controls and strengthening procedures.


In response to the audit findings, the Headteacher of Argoed High School (Mr. Paul Smith) confirmed that procedures had been reviewed and an agreed action plan shared with key individuals.  In addition to the newly-appointed experienced Business Manager, the appointments of a Vice-Chair of Finance and co-opted governor with relevant experience would build resilience into the oversight of the School’s financial management.  Other actions involved training sessions and visits to other schools identified as good practice.  The Headteacher also advised that a task group of school governors would monitor progress on the audit recommendations, some of which were underway.  He gave assurance that all actions would be implemented by the Spring term.


The Senior Manager - School Improvement Systems confirmed that the findings had been escalated to the Chief Officer who would be kept informed of progress on actions.  To raise awareness across all schools, the issues were being discussed with the School Budget Forum and Primary Heads’ Federation, with relevant training planned for schools.


In thanking the Headteacher for his attendance, the Chief Executive said that he was satisfied with the urgency and intent of the School’s response and the shared learning amongst schools.


In response to questions from Sally Ellis, the Internal Audit Manager explained that actions would require evidencing before closing down and that a follow-up review was undertaken for all red assurance audits.


On the three amber/red (some assurance) reports issued during the period, Sally Ellis was concerned about the lack of progress on the Alltami Stores follow-up and proposed that this be referred to the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee for further monitoring.  The Internal Audit Manager agreed to raise this at the next meeting of the liaison group with Overview & Scrutiny Chairs.


The Chief Executive spoke in support of this and said that an initial review meeting would be held with the Chief Officer.


Following comments from Councillor Johnson on school funds across primary and secondary sectors, the Internal Audit Manager said that similar issues had been identified at some of the other schools which had been audited.  There was a lack of oversight on school funds in general, hence the issue had been highlighted across all schools.


The Internal Audit Manager summarised the key points from other sections of the progress report, including progressing overdue actions with Chief Officers.


In response to concerns, Councillor Dunbar was informed that audit work on Housing Rent and Arrears was scheduled for Quarter 4 which commenced in January 2020.


Councillor Johnson’s concerns about overdue actions on Planning Enforcement were shared by the Internal Audit Manager who said that Chief Officers and Service Managers were responsible for providing updates on progress.  The Chief Executive said that a review meeting would be held with the Chief Officer and Internal Audit so that an update could be provided to the Committee as soon as possible.  This was welcomed by the Chairman.




That the report is accepted.

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