Committee round-up: Scrutiny and Audit Committee 18.2.16

A detailed discussion on the approach taken for health and social care integration, the introduction of a corporate charging framework for the council, and an update on work by the internal audit team were among matters discussed at the latest meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Scrutiny and Audit Committee.

The meeting, on Thursday, February 18, took place at the council’s Woodhill House headquarters in Aberdeen.

Progress of audit recommendations discussed

The committee heard the latest update on work undertaken by services to complete audit recommendations.

A range of service matters and themes were covered, including internet access and monitoring, the revenue budget setting process, the purchasing and creditors process within property and facilities management, and council tax.

Audit recommendations for bank reconciliations, and the letting of education, learning and leisure facilities were also covered.

Audit responsibilities for Health and Social Care Integration explored

A review of health and social care integration was brought before the committee as part of a detailed discussion on the subject.

A report before councillors explained the integration project involves bringing together adult community health and social care services provided by the council and health board within Aberdeenshire. This will be managed by an Integration Joint Board (IJB), comprising representatives of Aberdeenshire Council and NHS Grampian.

Under the new arrangements, guidance from the Scottish Government requires audit committees to obtain ‘assurances’ on matters relating to financial governance and financial assurance and risk, that lessons have been learned from other integration projects, and that measures are in place to identify whether integration has been successful. . 

Aberdeenshire Council’s internal audit team conducted a review of health and social care integration on the theme of financial assurance following a meeting of SAC in September last year. Work carried out by NHS Grampian’s internal audit team will be shared with the committee when it is available.

Outlining the work to date, the committee heard from Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership Chief Officer Adam Coldwells, and Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Finance, Alan Wood, who will also hold the role of Chief Financial Officer for the IJB.

Responding to questions about budgeting, Alan Wood explained it was expected the IJB would have a budget of around £290million, made up of £101million of funding from Aberdeenshire Council, around £170million from NHS Grampian, and £20million of further funding.

Adam Coldwells explained that although the implementation date for integration is April 1 this year, work on the project has been ongoing for some time and will continue beyond that date.

Audit plan for upcoming review of accounts outlined

The committee discussed the plan for an upcoming external audit of Aberdeenshire Council’s annual accounts for 2015/16.

The work will be undertaken by external auditors Deloitte, whose representatives outlined the plan to councillors.

The discussion covered the scope of the audit, key areas of focus and potential risks for the council.

Aberdeenshire’s new Corporate Charging Framework noted

SAC’s leading role in the creation of a corporate charging framework for Aberdeenshire Council was discussed.

In 2014, the committee undertook an investigation called ‘Charging for Services – Are You Getting it Right?’, based on an Audit Scotland national report of the same title.

The investigation found that while there were several examples of good practice across the council, there was no consistency in arrangements for setting charges across the authority.

Having developed a number of recommendations that were accepted by the council’s strategic leadership team, a corporate charging framework was adopted at a meeting of the full council in February this year.

Other matters

• The committee consider the revised Treasury Management Strategy Statement for 2016/17, reviewed the Prudential Indicators for 2016-2019, and agreed that both the strategy and indicators be passed to the Policy and Resources Committee for approval.
• In the latest communications update to the committee, members were told that SAC’s website presence had been updated and heard that work on the creation of video clip to promote the group’s work was continuing. The finished video is to be brought before the next meeting of the committee, in March.
• Updates on the SAC work plan and the committee’s work were discussed, along with an update on the progress of actions from previous SAC meetings.

The full public reports brought before the committee can be found via http://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/