The purpose of the report was to present to Members of the Governance and Audit Committee the Regional Internal Audit Service Charter for 2023-24 for approval.
The new Head of RIAS noted that this was an important document as it sets out the governance arrangements that are in place.
The RIAS Charter establishes the position of internal audit activity within each Council along with reporting lines. It is a formal document that defines the purpose, authority, and responsibility of internal audit activities.
The Charter defines the purpose, authority, and responsibilities of the RIAS across Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf and the Vale of Glamorgan Councils. The Charter was fully reviewed and amended for 2020-21 to develop a consistent charter for the four Councils and to be consistent with the objectives of the Shared Service, that is, to eliminate duplication and apply best practice.
The Charter establishes the position of internal audit activity within each Council, along with reporting lines, authorising access to records, personnel, and physical property relevant to the performance of audit work and defines the scope of internal audit activities.
The Head of Internal Audit is responsible for reviewing the Charter and presenting it to each Council’s Governance and Audit Committee annually for review and approval in line with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards.
RIAS is committed to meeting the standards laid down in the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards Framework and any significant deviations from the Standards will be reported to the Governance and Audit Committee.
The Charter has been updated to include in Section 2.17, “in addition to the Code of Ethics staff must comply with the Seven Principles of Public Life and the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Code of Corporate Governance which are referred to in Annex 3 – Additional Requirements.”
Paragraph 4.11 of the Charter relating to External Assessment has also been updated to reflect that a comprehensive and detailed self-assessment has been conducted during 2022 and shared with the external assessors in November 2022. The external assessment of the RIAS is currently in progress and is due to be completed in April 2023.
In response to the presentation, a Member, referencing section 2.12, “The Head of Internal Audit will aim to have sound working relationships and channels of communication with Elected Members and in particular, Governance & Audit Committee, Cabinet and Scrutiny Committees,” asked how this would work in practice, and whether there were pointers in terms of best practice.
The Head of RIAS indicated that thisdemonstrated his independence and that of his team. If any elected Member has any concerns about how Council business is operating, then they can come to him and discuss concerns. He made it clear he was part of the whistle blowing procedure so if an elected Member had a serious concern about an irregularity or inefficiencies, they could come directly to him.
As a follow up, the Member asked how this could be communicated to all elected Members. The Head of RIAS indicated they would consider how to communicate this as part of work in 2023-24. The Chairperson asked if this was a matter for the Democratic Services Committee and left it with officers to consider.
Another Member asked whether, since the Head of the RIAS had attended a couple of other Governance and Audit Committees since taking up his post, whether any points had been raised at those meetings which may be of interest to Members.
In response, the Head of RIAS, noted that there had been comments and suggested he could prepare a summary of all the points raised across the four committees and then present them at a future meeting.
One of the Lay Members wondered if, instead of just presenting changes to the Charter in the covering report, they could be highlighted in the text of the document. The Head of RIAS suggested they would consider that and take it on board for 2023-24.
The Chairperson added one further point about the relationship between RIAS and elected Members, indicating that it was also necessary to consider Lay Members as well. The Head of RIAS made it clear he would take that on board for the review of the 2023-24 Internal Audit Charter and report back accordingly.
That Members of the Committee considered and approved the Regional Internal Audit Service Charter for 2023-24 as attached in Appendix A to the report.