Agenda and minutes

Audit Committee - Monday, 15th March, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: Online - Virtual Meeting. View directions

Contact: David Abbott  Email:

Link: Watch on YouTube

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Alexandra Sanderson.



Declarations of Interest

If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a particular item, whether or not it is entered in the Authority’s register of interests, or any other significant interest which they consider should be declared in the public interest, they should declare the existence and, unless it is a sensitive interest as defined in the Member Code of Conduct, the nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.


At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest or other significant interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter.  The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken.


Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance and speak, then the Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration. Councillors who have declared other significant interests should also withdraw from the meeting if they consider their continued participation in the matter would not be reasonable in the circumstances and may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.


Councillors are not obliged to withdraw from the meeting where a dispensation to that effect has been obtained from the Standards Committee.


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 225 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meetings and to note any outstanding actions.

Additional documents:


Councillor Rowan Ree noted that he had not received a copy of the Council’s current whistleblowing policy or information requested about violence incidents. He also asked to be resent a document on early repayment charges.

ACTIONS: David Hughes, Paul Barton, and Phil Triggs



The minutes of the meetings held on 24 November 2020 and 1 December 2020 were approved as an accurate record.



Risk Management Highlight Report pdf icon PDF 690 KB

This report provides an update on risk management across the Council.


Mike Sloniowski, Risk Manager, presented the report which gave an update on risk management across the Council. He gave an overview of some key events that had taken place since the previous meeting – including a resurgence of Covid-19 infections across the country, another national lockdown, the conclusion of an EU trade deal, and the opening of a vaccination centre in Hammersmith – highlighting the pace of change and the shifting risk environment.


Mike Sloniowski then discussed some of the additions to the risk register – highlighting the risks of a widening of digital divide, the rise of cyber-crime, and the challenges for the visitor economy (those employed in music, the arts, and hospitality).


Councillor Matt Thorley asked how the Council planned to balance the requirements and resource implications of transitioning out of lockdown while retaining core services. He gave the example of environmental health officers who had been redeployed to support the Council’s track and trace efforts but who would also be a key part of getting the hospitality sector up and running again as restrictions were lifted.


Mike Sloniowski said these considerations were part of the recovery strategy being led by the Strategic Director for Economy. He was of the view that there would continue to be a requirement for some Covid support services for some time. The workforce strategy was starting to look at some of these issues. He said the Council’s pandemic response had been very dynamic and it would need to continue to be agile going forward.


Councillor Alex Karmel raised the issue of IT security in light of increased home working and a high-profile attack on Hackney Council. He asked if officers were confident that the Council’s systems were secure. Emily Hill, Director of Finance, said cyber-security was a high priority and was closely monitored. The Council’s systems had been reviewed after the Hackney Council incident, but officers hadn’t identified any vulnerabilities. David Hughes, Director of Audit, Fraud, Risk and Insurance, noted that the Chief Executive had also ensured that SLT received regular briefings on cyber security. He said officers would also share 6-monthly updates with the committee.

ACTION: Veronica Barella


Councillor Alex Karmel noted that the South African variant of Covid-19 was becoming worryingly common in Wandsworth and asked for reassurance of what contingency plans were in place if it spread to the borough. David Hughes said the Council was reviewing its outbreak management plans and was carrying out surge testing where there were variants of concern. The situation was being actively reviewed. Mike Sloniowski said Linda Jackson, Director of Covid, could provide a more detailed written response.


ACTION: Linda Jackson


Councillor Alex Karmel noted there were concerns about Covid hotspots in South Fulham – particularly related to schools. He asked if resilience teams were informed of outbreaks in schools and other areas and if sufficient measures were in place to deal with them. Lisa Redfern, Strategic Director of Social Care, said Linda Jackson could provide a detailed response but she assured members  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Internal Audit Progress Report pdf icon PDF 308 KB

This report provides an update on internal audit work carried out between November 2020 and February 2021.



David Hughes, Director of Audit, Fraud, Risk and Insurance, presented the report which provided an update on internal audit work carried out between November 2020 and February 2021. He noted that since the last report, two school audits had been completed, both of which received a Substantial Assurance opinion. A further 35 audits were now in progress and no significant concerns had been found so far.


Councillor Rowan Ree asked what ‘journals’ meant in the context of Key Control Objective 5. David Hughes said it related to coding – when amounts of money were moved from one cost code to another.


Councillor Rowan Ree, with reference to Key Control Objective 2, asked how often acting-up and other additional allowances were paid to staff. David Hughes said acting-up was only supposed to be for short-periods. Honoraria were one-off payments to staff that had gone above and beyond their normal job.


Councillor Alex Karmel asked if the concern around overtime was due to Covid or a systemic issue. David Hughes said they had tested 10 cases and found 1 with no appropriate approval so the service had been informed. Officers weren’t seeing a significant upward trend.



That the Committee noted and commented on the report.



Internal Audit Plan 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 321 KB

This item presents the Council’s Internal Audit Plan for 2021/22.


David Hughes, Director of Audit, Fraud, Risk and Assurance, presented the Council’s Internal Audit Plan for 2021/22. He noted that the plan would be moving to a ‘3 plus 9-month’ plan to be more flexible and responsive. The revised plan would be reported to the Committee on a quarterly basis. It would also become more targeted – looking at elements of a system rather than whole system reviews every time. This would create a tighter feedback loop to enable improvements to be implemented more quickly. The new plan would also bring in reviews by other bodies and authorities e.g. Ofsted inspections of Children’s Services and Social Care.


Councillor Rowan Ree asked if other councils were using the ‘3 plus 9-month’ approach. David Hughes said many councils were moving towards this type of model. A fixed plan that doesn’t change throughout the year meant it wasn’t possible to give a robust opinion at the end of the year. Councillor Ree said it seemed like a positive change.



1.    That the Committee reviewed and commented on the draft Strategic Audit Plan, as set out in Appendix 1 of the report.

2.    That the Committee reviewed and commented on the draft of the Annual Audit Plan, as set out in Appendix 2 of the report.



Date of next meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 22 June 2021.


The date of the next meeting was noted as 22 June 2021.