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AUDIT, GOVERNANCE AND STANDARDS COMMITTEE

28 July 2021

 

Annual Governance Statement 2020-21 and Refreshed Local Code of Corporate Governance 2021

 

Final Decision-Maker

Audit Governance and Standards Committee

Lead Director

Director of Finance and Business Improvement

Lead Officer and Report Author

Angela Woodhouse, Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

Classification

Public

 

Wards affected

All

 

Executive Summary

 

The purpose of the report is to present the Annual Governance Statement for 2020-21 and refreshed Local Code of Corporate Governance for consideration and approval of the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee. The Annual Governance Statement is a review of the effectiveness of the Councilís governance arrangements, the statement concludes that the Council has effectiveness governance arrangements in place.

 

Purpose of Report

 

Decision

 

 

This report makes the following recommendations to this Committee:

To approve the Annual Governance Statement for 2020-21 at Appendix A and refreshed Local Code of Corporate Governance at Appendix B.

 

 

 

 

Timetable

Meeting

Date

Wider Leadership Team

8 June 2021

Corporate Leadership Team

20 July 2021

Audit, Governance and Standards Committee

28 July 2021



Annual Governance Statement 2020-21 and Refreshed Local Code of Corporate Governance 2021

 

1.       CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES AND IMPLICATIONS

 

Issue

Implications

Sign-off

Impact on Corporate Priorities

The four Strategic Plan objectives are:

 

         Embracing Growth and Enabling Infrastructure

         Safe, Clean and Green

         Homes and Communities

         A Thriving Place

Effective corporate governance arrangements ensure the Councilís priorities are understood and delivered

 

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

Cross Cutting Objectives

The four cross-cutting objectives are:

 

         Heritage is Respected

         Health Inequalities are Addressed and Reduced

         Deprivation and Social Mobility is Improved

         Biodiversity and Environmental Sustainability is respected

Effective corporate governance arrangements ensure the Councilís priorities are understood and delivered

 

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

Risk Management

The most significant risks from the Corporate Risk Register are included within the action plan in the Annual Governance Statement.

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

Financial

The proposals set out in the recommendation are all within already approved budgetary headings and so need no new funding for implementation.

[Section 151 Officer & Finance Team]

Staffing

We will deliver the recommendations with our current staffing.

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

Legal

Section 6(1) of the Accounts and Audit

Regulations 2015 requires all local authorities to:

a) conduct a review of the effectiveness of

the system of internal control required by

regulation 3; and

(b) prepare an annual governance statement; Under the Councilís Constitution one of the functions of the Committee is to oversee the production of the Councilís Annual Governance Statement. The Annual

Statement demonstrates measures are in

place to ensure good governance

arrangements which enable the Council to

meet its statutory requirements.

Head of Mid Kent Legal Partnership

Privacy and Data Protection

Data protection is covered in the statement

and action will continue into 2021-22.

Policy and Information Team

Equalities

Effective corporate governance arrangements include behaving with integrity, demonstrating strong commitment to ethical values, and respecting rule of law as set out

in the code of corporate governance.

Policy & Information Manager

Public Health

 

 

We recognise that the recommendations will not negatively impact on population health or that of individuals.

 

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

Crime and Disorder

No implications.

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

Procurement

Procurement processes and procedures are part of effective governance arrangements.

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

Biodiversity and Climate Change

The review of the governance framework includes environmental impact.

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

 

 

2.        INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

 

2.1†† Each year the Council reviews its governance arrangements to ensure

compliance with the Local Code of Corporate Governance. The purpose of

the review is to provide assurance that governance arrangements are

adequate, operating effectively and to identify action which is planned

to ensure effective governance in the future. The outcome of the review

takes the form of an Annual Governance Statement (AGS) at Appendix A prepared on behalf of the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive.

 

2.2      Overall, we can confirm that the Council has the appropriate governance systems and processes in place. Whilst we are satisfied the governance arrangements in general work well, our review has identified additional actions to ensure good standards of governance are maintained.

2.3      The most significant governance issues still relate to COVID-19 as they did when we carried out our review last year. The review of the Councilís governance arrangements also considers the requirements of the new financial management code and these have also been included in the action plan for 2021-22.

 

2.4      Updates on the actions will be provided to the Audit Governance and Standards Committee on a six-monthly basis and kept under review by the internal Corporate Governance Group.

 

2.5      The following areas have been identified for improvement for 2020-21:

 

 

Corporate Governance Area

Lead Officer

By When

Make data and information more freely accessible on the website and on request

Data Protection Officer

Project to be completed by March 2022

Data Protection Action Plan

(previously reported to Audit Governance and Standards Committee)

Data Protection Officer

Action plan progress will be reported to this committee in November 2021

Raising awareness of the code of local governance and the Nolan Principles

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

Updates in November 2021 and March 2022

Actions to ensure compliance with the Financial Management Code:

 

  Develop and embed a policy on Social Value

  Review and update the Commissioning Strategy

  Hold Member workshops to inform the development of the 2022/23 budget

  Review approach to investment appraisal for conformance with ĎPrinciples in Project and Investment Appraisalí

  Assess the usefulness of budget monitoring reports to the leadership team in supporting strategic decision making and identify scope for improving these as appropriate.

  Refresh the 2021/22 Capital Strategy

 

Director of Finance and Business Improvement

Updates in November 2021 and March 2022

Learning from governance failings at other Local Authorities

Chief Executive

Updates in November 2021 and March 2022

Review of Church Road, Otham

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

Report in November 2021

Change to Executive Model of Governance

Head of Policy, Communications and Governance

Updates in November 2021 and March 2022

Promoting decision making on Garden Communities ensuring information is publicly available and accessible and the role of the council as developer versus the role as the planning authority is clear.

Director of Regeneration and Place

Updates in November 2021 and March 2022

Corporate Risk: Contraction in retail and leisure sectors, the Council will be developing a Town Centre Management Strategy

Director of Regeneration and Place

Updates in November 2021 and March 2022

Corporate Risk: Financial Restrictions

Director of Finance and Business Improvement

Updates in November 2021 and March 2022

Corporate Risk: Environmental Damage

Head of Transformation and Property

Updates in November 2021 and March 2022

Corporate Risk: Brexit/EU transition

Director of Finance and Business Improvement

Updates in November 2021 and March 2022

 

 

 

 

Local Code of Corporate Governance

 

2.6†† The Local Code of Corporate Governance was previously updated in 2020 has been refreshed this year to reflect changes regarding evidence and some other minor updates these are included as tracked changes in Appendix B.

 

 

3.        AVAILABLE OPTIONS

 

3.1     The Annual Governance Statement is a requirement of statutory regulations and provides assurance about the Councilís governance arrangements.

 

3.2 † The Committee can approve the Annual Governance Statement as it has

been presented or request amendments as it deems appropriate.

 

3.3†† The Local Code of Corporate Governance was rewritten in 2017 and updated in 2020 the refreshed version attached at Appendix B has minor amendments for approval by the Committee, the Committee could request additional amendments or no amendment to the present code.

 

 

4.        PREFERRED OPTION AND REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS

 

4.1     The Committee is recommended to review the Annual Governance Statement and action plan at Appendix A and approve the areas suggested for improvement for 2020-21. They are also asked to approve the refreshed Local Code of Corporate Governance as amended at Appendix B.

 

 

 

5.       RISK

5.1    The Annual Governance Statement considers and gives assurance to the Councilís approach to risk management.

 

6.        CONSULTATION RESULTS AND PREVIOUS COMMITTEE FEEDBACK

 

6.1     Heads of Service and the Corporate Leadership team and the Corporate Governance working Group have all been consulted on the councilís governance arrangements for 2020-21, the views gathered have been included in the statement.

 

 

 

7.       NEXT STEPS: COMMUNICATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECISION

 

7.1    Following the Audit, Governance and Standards Committeeís approval the statement will be included in the final statement of accounts and published on the Councilís website. The refreshed Local Code of Corporate Governance will be placed on the website and intranet.

 

 

8.        REPORT APPENDICES

 

The following documents are to be published with this report and form part of the report:

         Appendix A: Annual Governance Statement 2020-21

         Appendix B: Local Code of Corporate Governance 2021 Refresh

 

 

9.        BACKGROUND PAPERS

 

None.