Report of the Town Clerk.
Members received a report of the Town Clerk relative to the Annual Terms of Reference review.
A Member said that they would like to see an overarching statement included in the terms of reference to explain the purpose of the Committee. The Chairman asked the Committee to grant delegated authority so that this matter could be pursued.
A Member said that the proposed revisions to the terms of reference did not mention an annual Internal Audit Plan. She felt that while the Committee receives reports, seeing a plan would help Members assurance on the level of Internal Audit activity over the year. She wondered whether this was something that could also be included in the terms of reference In reply, the Head of Internal Audit said that the Internal Audit team no longer worked to an annual plan, and was adopting a more agile and iterative approach, with a rolling programme of work. He added that peers in other organisations were also taking this approach. The Chairman asked if it would be possible to add a reference to this iterative programme of work within the terms of reference.
A Member cautioned that it was important that the terms of reference did not become too prescriptive. While it was important to be clear that the Committee’s remit meant that it oversaw internal audit, it was not necessary to ‘lock in’ the methods of doing this.
A Member said that it was important that the Committee ensured that, at a macro level, risks across the organisation were looked at on a regular cycle, while retaining time for ad-hoc activity. They felt this was hard to do if there was not a plan in place. They would like to see a plan that included both.
The Chamberlain said there were two issues being discussed: the responsibility of Committee members under the Committee’s terms of reference, and the methods by which the Head of Internal Audit discharged their duty. She said that part of the latter was to provide the Chamberlain and the Committee with assurance that the City Corporation had robust systems of financial control. She suggested that the terms of reference could include a reference to the Committee’s assurance on the robustness of planning. With regards to work planning, the Chamberlain said that an agile audit plan would be a key strength in providing this assurance. While it was important that Internal Audit did look at all systems within the organisation, there were more nuanced risks which would need to be picked up as and when. Members agreed that it was appropriate for the Committee to receive high level assurance rather than the operational details of Internal Audit’s work.
A Member asked how the Committee would receive assurance about the level of coverage over a period of time. The Head of Internal Audit replied that detailed plans for the Committee could prove restrictive, and that it might be better to provide the committee with an outline of the broad areas on which Internal Audit would be providing assurances. The Chairman requested the Head of Internal Audit to consider how this could be included in the terms of reference, and asked that it should be circulated to all Members as part of the delegated authority agreement.
The Bridge House Estates and Charities Finance Director confirmed for Members the current process by which the Bridge House Estates Board had a reference in place with the Audit and Risk Management Committee, which requested that the latter Committee review the Bridge House Estates Annual Report and provide comment to the Board, as was included as a later agenda item.
RESOLVED, that – Members: