Agenda item

Annual Governance Statement 2019/20


The Accounts and Audit Regulations required the Council to review, at least annually, its governance arrangements and, following this review, to agree an Annual Governance Statement (AGS). It was also a requirement for the Council to demonstrate awareness of where weaknesses existed within the governance arrangements and to develop and implement appropriate improvement plans.


The AGS appended to the report at Appendix A comprised an assessment of governance arrangements and internal controls across the whole organisation against the Council’s Code of Corporate Governance and whether these were supported by robust assurance processes.  The review included:


           the robustness of the Council’s risk management, performance management, financial management, legal and regulatory, IT and human resources processes and having the evidence to support that these were in place;

           the governance arrangements in place for the management of partnerships;

           the work and effectiveness of the internal audit function; and

           assurances from those managing the business (i.e. Heads of Service) that the processes within their areas were robust and complied with.


The outcome of the review was set out within the Statement and the significant governance issues were summarised within the report.  Members were advised that the Statement would be updated with an addendum to take into account the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and the implications that may have on the Council’s finances and any governance issues as a result and were requested to approve the report as written.


There were no outstanding issues from previous years, however the internal control environment was not satisfactory and action was needed as follows:


           Property Investment: a number of control issues required strengthening and transparency improved.

           U4BW ERP System Administration: the amount of dedicated resource had reduced.  The Council would be employing specific expertise to effectively administer the system.


Other issues and areas of emerging risk that might impact on the Council included Local Government Funding Review and Business Rate Retention Scheme (deferred for another year), achieving a balanced budget, new Corporate Plan, joint working, loss of staff and recruitment, property investment, U4BW ERP Implementation Project, risk management, major projects, post BREXIT, pandemic flu, climate change emergency and joint waste contract.


Members were given the opportunity to ask questions and the following points were noted:


           loss of income at the current time through, for example the closure of car parks and delays and deferrals in Council Tax, were of particular concern;

           Business Rate changes were being funded through central Government grants and were not expected to be severely impacted;

           the Council’s loss of income reported to central Government to date was at approximately £3.5m, the impact of which would be accounted for in the 2020/21 financial year.  Representation had been made to central Government and the Council had received approximately £1m in grant support at that time;

           cash flow was positive due to the Government grants received, but there was the possibility that unspent funds could be clawed back towards the end of the year; and

           unallocated reserves could be used to support the Council in the short term, but this would have an impact on the financial plan and Council services.  Members would be kept updated.


The report demonstrated the robust approach the Council took to ensure good governance. The issues highlighted through inspection, both internal and external, provided assurance that the controls and procedures in place provided Members with a high degree of assurance.  The report highlighted the areas where improvement was required and the risks to the Council and its partners resulting from the poor economic climate and the associated impact on funding in the public sector.




1)         the Annual Governance Statement be approved, subject to an addendum on Covid-19; and


2)         the Statement be signed by the Leader of the Council and the Executive Directors.

Supporting documents: