The Committee gave consideration to a report which reviewed the strategic risks facing the Council as at September 2021.
The report identified 12 strategic risks to the Council, and Members were reminded of the definition of a Strategic Risk, as detailed at Section 1.1 of the report, a risk that if materialised would adversely impact the delivery of corporate priorities.
Members had last considered the Strategic Risks in January 2021. The Risks and associated actions were due to be reviewed again with Risks owners over the coming months and were reported to the Committee on a six monthly basis.
Members were asked to identify any additional risks and to be assured that the current controls and proposed actions were sufficiently robust.
A Member questioned whether the Climate Strategy and Action Plan should be added as a control to the risk relating to the local housing market – page 49 of the report referred. In response, Officers undertook to raise the matter with the risk owner at the pending review meeting and add to the controls as necessary.
Some Members of the committee were of the belief that the Committee’s role was to safeguard the Council finances, raise concerns where they existed and undertake actions to seek assurance. Given the current circumstances surrounding a former Leader of the Council, Opposition Members were of the belief this could lead to suggestions that the Council’s accounts had been compromised and/or that decision making had been flawed. Assurance was requested that both the accounts and decision making, governance of the Council had been undertaken satisfactorily. Opposition Members considered that this was a risk to the Council and that an independent person should be appointed to investigate such matters and report back to the Committee for assurance purposes.
In response Officers advised the Annual Governance Statement was prepared in consultation with the internal audit function and as such received outside validation of its accuracy.
In respect of the Accounts, again these were audited by an external body and as such received external validation of their accuracy. In undertaking the audit, samples of transactions were scrutinised. The segregation of duties, sign off levels and authorised Officers offered further assurance.
Having heard the responses from internal Officers, Opposition Members hoped that when they received the next internal audit report such matters were addressed and responded to.
Noting the Internal Audit Plan was a set document agreed by the Committee,it may not be feasible to include an additional report of that nature. However the Internal Audit quarter report was due for consideration at the next meeting and both internal and external auditors would be present, it was suggested that those points and requests could be made at that meeting, if Members felt it necessary.
Members questioned whether current controls and commentary in respect of ICT were satisfactory given that it had been identified as the greatest risk. In response, Officers confirmed an Internal Audit of ICT and Cyber security was being undertaken given the level of risk it posed, the results of which would be reported back to the Committee and the Risk updated appropriately with any arising recommendations from that Audit
RESOLVED that, having reviewed the Strategic Risk register, noting the comments made, no additional strategic risks be included; and current controls and proposed actions are sufficiently robust.
Note: Councillor T Young left the meeting at this point.