This report considers options for the future provision of Internal Audit Services for the Council due to anticipated changes in circumstances.
The Chair welcomed Neil Pitman, Head of Southern Internal Audit Partnership, to the meeting.
The Chair then invited the Interim Group Head for Corporate Support to introduce the report. She explained that report outlined difficulties in recruiting and maintaining suitably qualified audit staff and highlighted the recommendations.
The Head of Southern Internal Audit Partnership then gave his presentation to the Committee, a copy of which would be uploaded to the Council website after the meeting.
Members then took part in a question and answer session, and the following points were raised:
· Members were grateful for the work of the Internal Audit Team, but this could not continue with just one Senior Auditor. Thanks were also given to the Interim Group Head for Corporate Support for maintaining the budget at a sustainable level.
· Going into partnership with a professional Local Government organisation meant there would be no cultural barrier.
· Members thanked the Head of Southern Internal Audit Partnership for his presentation.
· The numbers of new partners that would be taken on by Southern Internal Audit. The Head of Southern Internal Audit Partnership explained that they had grown fairly organically over the past 8-10 years, and they tended to go through a period of taking on new partners, then a period of consolidation.
· The level of involvement and support Southern Internal Audit Partnership would be able to offer with the regeneration projects. The Head of Southern Internal Audit Partnership explained they sometimes sat as a critical friend in an advisory capacity, but this was with regard to governance risk and control rather than bringing detailed expertise in the particular field.
· It was asked how the contract would be worked out, and how it was decided how many days they would be contracted for. The Head of Southern Internal Audit Partnership explained they were currently going through a process to look at the Council’s needs, and they would look at a baseline number of days, which is what they would charge for. If this was exceeded there would not be an additional charge as long as parity was restored over 3 years.
· The length of contract. The Head of Southern Internal Audit Partnership explained it would be an initial commitment of 5 years and after that period there was a notice period of 12 months should the Council wish to cease the partnership.
The recommendations were Proposed by Councillor Chapman and Seconded by Councillor Oliver-Redgate.
1) It be confirmed to the Corporate Support Committee that that Southern Internal Audit Partnership (SIAP) can be appointed as the Council’s Internal Audit Service provider from 1 April 2022, being one of the possible options.
2) Authority be delegated to the Interim Group Head of Corporate Support, to agree the Internal Audit Plan for 2022/23 before 31 March 2022
The Committee also
RECOMMEND TO THE CORPORATE SUPPORT COMMITTEE
1) That the consequential changes in staffing arrangements to provide the Council with a suitably resourced Internal Audit service with effect from 1 April 2022 be approved.