Your Councillors

Agenda item

Annual Governance Statement 2018/19

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Head of Policy, Communications and Governance setting out the Annual Governance Statement 2018/19.  It was noted that:

 

·  The Council was required to produce an Annual Governance Statement each year looking at the effectiveness of the previous year’s governance arrangements and whether any actions were required to improve arrangements in 2019/20.  No significant governance issues had been identified arising from the review and the Officers were satisfied that the Council’s governance arrangements were working well.  This was reflected in the paragraph headed “Significant Governance Issues” on page 2 of the document which had been amended to read “Conclusion on Significant Governance Issues”.

 

·  The review had identified areas for improvement in 2019/20, several of which were linked to the Corporate Risk Register, to ensure good standards of governance are maintained. Updates on the actions would be provided for the Committee on a six monthly basis and kept under review by the internal Corporate Governance Group.

 

·  A number of improvement actions had been identified as part of the 2017/18 review and progress had been made in all areas.  For example:

 

The new Strategic Plan had been adopted;

Audit reviews with weak assurance had now been rated as sound following the implementation of agreed remedial measures;

Action had been taken in response to the findings of the Stress Survey and to mitigate risks associated with increasing housing pressures, the potential failure of significant capital projects of a housing and regeneration nature and financial restrictions;

Progress had been made against the action plan to ensure compliance with Data Protection legislation; and

The Council was now Payment Card Industry Compliant.

 

In response to questions:

 

·  The Head of Audit Partnership advised the Committee that he had been consulted on the compilation of the Annual Governance Statement and the results and recommendations of Internal Audit reports were fed into it.  There were established procedures for dealing with the results and recommendations of Internal Audit reports.  There had only been a few issues giving rise to significant areas for improvement which should be recognised within the Statement, and he was satisfied that they were appropriately represented.  Also, as set out in the Annual Internal Audit Report and Opinion 2018/19, he was satisfied that the Council’s corporate governance arrangements for the year ended 31 March 2019 complied in all material respects with guidance on proper practices.

 

·  The Head of Policy, Communications and Governance advised the Committee that:

 

The Annual Governance Statement looked back at the governance arrangements for 2018/19.  The Monitoring Officer had cause during the year to remind Members about the obligations within the Code of Conduct relating to the disclosure of exempt and confidential information and an investigation was being carried out into a potential alleged breach of the Code.  The disclosure had not been identified as such a significant issue that it needed to be referenced in the Annual Governance Statement action plan for 2019/20, but if the trend continued it could be included as a governance issue next year.

 

Partner relationships had been identified as a key improvement area as it was necessary to build relationships with partners and stakeholders such as Kent County Council, Mid-Kent Services partner authorities and other local public sector organisations to deliver the ambitions within the Strategic Plan.

 

The Council was now broadly compliant with the Data Protection legislation and had action plans in place covering the areas where more work was required.  Currently, the Policy team was working on email retention; updating the way information is retained; and making sure practices are followed through.  The Information Management Group was monitoring progress against the action plans and regular updates could be provided for Members of the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee if required.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Annual Governance Statement for 2018/19, attached as amended Appendix 1 to the report of the Head of Policy, Communications and Governance, be approved.

 

Supporting documents: