Agenda and minutes

Audit and Performance Committee - Wednesday 10th July, 2019 6.30 pm

Contact: Andrew Palmer, Senior Committee and Governance Officer  Tel: 020 7641 2802 Email:

No. Item



To note any changes to the membership.


1.1       There were no changes to Membership. 


Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations by Members and Officers of the existence and nature of any personal or prejudicial interests in matters on this agenda.


2.1       No declarations were made.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 469 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meetings on 2 May 2019 and 17 June 2019.

Additional documents:


3.1       RESOLVED:  That the Minutes of the meetings held on 2 May 2019 and 17 June 2019 be agreed by the Committee as a correct record of proceedings.


3.2       Matters Arising


3.2.1    Minute 4.3 - 17 June 2019


The Committee noted that since the last meeting on 17 June, the Supreme Court had refused leave for the Government to appeal against the McCloud judgement on Pension Funds. The Executive Director of Finance & Resources confirmed that the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling had been assessed and that the Local Government Pension Scheme needed to be amended.  It had been agreed that the City Council’s auditors would add a note to the accounts as a contingent liability, which would increase Westminster’s liability estimate by approximately £9m which represented 0.7%.


Year End Performance Report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To review how the City Council is performing against the City for All priorities, including progress towards achieving the deliverables and targets within departmental business plans.



4.1       Ian Farrow (WestCo Manager) introduced a year-end report that presented detailed performance results for the year April 2018 to March 2019 against the 2018/19 business plans. The report set out how the Council performed against City for All priorities and included progress towards achieving the deliverables and targets within the business plans. The information presented was reported by exception and focused on those areas of notable achievement or concern where action or intervention was likely to be required. The report also provided early views into the challenges that were anticipated during 2019/20.


4.2       The Committee considered the overall performance of the City Council and submitted questions to individual members of the Executive Leadership Team on performance within their directorates. This included queries about key performance indicators critical to the Council’s performance which had either missed the ideal target at year end, or had only met the minimum standard. 


4.3       The Committee discussed the increase in the number of rough sleepers over the past year, and noted that the rise could be associated with wider knowledge of the StreetLink campaign which enabled members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with local services; with the possibility that the same person could be reported more than once. Members also discussed the effectiveness of the engagement between rough sleepers and the City Council, and commented on the enforcement that was available. Jenny Travassos (Head of Prevention, Housing) confirmed that the ‘no second night out’ scheme had resulted in 83% of rough sleepers not being on the streets for a second night; and that police could only become involved when there was anti-social behaviour or begging. The Committee noted that the rough sleepers in and around the Cathedral Plaza tended to be a transient group with a high proportion of foreign nationals, and that people were reluctant to engage in schemes that took them away from London.


4.4       The Head of Prevention, Housing reported that the City Council had the best outcomes for assessment relocation in Greater London, and that 167 people had been sustainably resettled into their home area at Quarter 3. The Committee noted that following relocation from Greater London, people were tracked for 6 to 12 months with only three having returned to Westminster.


4.5       The Committee discussed the increase in the number of Looked After Children in Westminster, which had risen by 10 in one quarter. Members noted that the pan London and national approaches to Asylum Seeking Children had ended, and that the Leader of the City Council was leading on this issue for London Councils and had suggested a short-term solution. Westminster was second to Croydon in the number of Asylum Seeking Children it accommodated, and the London Councils were lobbying the Government for a sustainable solution with sustainable funding for local authorities. The Committee noted that if projections continued, placement costs would increase from £4.5m in 2019/20 to £9.4m in 2021/22; and that the number of social workers required to look after the cases  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Period 2 Finance Report pdf icon PDF 592 KB

Report of the Executive Director, Finance & Resources.


5.1       Gerald Almeroth (Executive Director of Finance & Resources) presented the Period 2 finance report, which provided details of the forecast outturn in respect of revenue and capital and projected revenue and capital expenditure by Cabinet Portfolio. The report included key risks and opportunities, together with details of revenue and capital expenditure for the Housing Revenue Account.


5.2       The report projected a nil variance compared to budget with net risks of £3.540m; which compromised £4.874m of risks and £1.307m of opportunities. Although the majority of Cabinet Portfolios were forecasting to budget, it was noted that this would change as monitoring continued over the coming months. The monthly Capital Monitoring report projected a gross expenditure overspend of £7.895m by year end; and income was forecast to over recover by £10.673m resulting in a net underspend of £2.778m. The HRA revenue forecast as at period 2 was an overall net surplus of £10.159m, which represented a favourable variance of £0.366m compared to budget. The forecast gross capital expenditure outturn for the HRA was £146.387m, resulting in a total variance of £3.466m compared to the budget of £149.853m.


5.3       The Committee discussed the report, and highlighted the additional risk of CityWest Homes returning to Westminster’s Housing Service. Committee Members also discussed progress in lobbying for legislative support in the City Council’s ‘Don’t be Idle’ campaign; and noted that although parking income remained volatile, it was likely that the risk would be downgraded during the current quarter.


5.4       RESOLVED: That the Period 2 Monitoring Report be noted.



That details be given of the financial link between the Westmead development and Wilberforce School. (Action for Dave Gerald Almeroth - Executive Director of Finance & Resources)


Annual Report on Internal Audit and Internal Control 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 500 KB

To consider the work of Internal Audit in 2018/19.


6.1       Moira Mackie (Senior Internal Audit Manager) and David Hughes (Shared Services Director for Audit, Fraud, Risk & Insurance) presented a report that summarised the work of Internal Audit and Internal Control in 2018/19. The report also provided context for the opinion on the adequacy and effectiveness of the Council’s governance, risk management and internal control environment. The opinion was provided for the use of the City Council and would support its Annual Governance Statement.


6.2       The Committee noted that from the work carried out by the Internal Audit Service, reasonable assurance could be provided that systems of internal controls in place during the financial year were effective, with 91% of the audits undertaken receiving a positive assurance opinion.


6.3       There had been a few areas where the review had been rated ‘limited’ and required improvements to control and compliance, which had related to leaving care in Children’s Services; IT procurement and contract management; Members’ IT; and Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. Each case had been reported to the Audit & Performance Committee, with action plans being put in place to remedy the weaknesses that had been identified.  The Committee noted that many of the areas that had been audited had been rated ‘satisfactory’, which was a positive assessment that recognised scope for improvement and needed follow-up actions and recommendations. In 85% of cases, the recommendations were being implemented, and the Shared Services Director confirmed that the City Council was now considering how the ratings of more auditable areas could be raised to ‘substantial’.  In most areas, the Council was found to be effective at implementing recommendations where concerns in respect of controls had been identified.  Audits that were in progress would be reported later in the year.


6.4       The Committee discussed FOI requests, and noted that the Campaign for Freedom of Information had undertaken a benchmarking exercise of all London Boroughs in which Westminster had been in the bottom third. It was acknowledged that some requests were complicated and could take longer to process, and that the Cabinet Member for Customer Services & Digital was currently considering how the service could be improved. The Committee noted that Westminster’s FOI policy had last been reviewed in 2011, and agreed that it should be reviewed more regularly. Committee Members also suggested that more clarity was needed on who to contact in particular departments.


6.5       The Committee expressed concern that only 2 of the 6 recommendations concerning the Leaving Care service had been implemented, and noted that the response was taking longer due to consistency of approach and problems in recording. Other issues discussed included deferred audits; and the audits undertaken by Hampshire Services during 2018/19 for the integrated business centre (IBC).


6.6       RESOLVED: That the annual report of Internal Audit and Internal Control for 2018/19 be noted.



Counter Fraud 2018/19 - End of Year Report pdf icon PDF 710 KB

To receive a report on the work undertaken by the Counter Fraud Service during the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019.


7.1       Andy Hyatt (Tri-Borough Head of Fraud) presented a report that provided an account of fraud related activity undertaken by the Corporate Anti-Fraud Service (CAFS) from April 2018 to March 2019.  Since April 2018, CAFS had identified 231 positive outcomes including 100 prosecutions and 24 recovered attendances.  For the financial year ending 31st March 2017, fraud identified by CAFS had a value of over £629,548.


7.2       The Committee suggested that some narrative was needed to support the data given on fraud proved and notional values. The Tri-Borough Head of Fraud commented that changes in service had led to a reduction in referrals for housing fraud; and that detection was improving and was more positive, due to better quality reporting and more triage to focus limited resources on areas that would give good outcomes. Members also commented on the rise in fraud relating to disabled parking. 


7.3       The Committee discussed organised crime in City Council housing lets; and the Tri-Borough Head of Fraud agreed to investigate the distribution of estate agents’ cards which were inducing tenants to sub-let their properties.


7.4       Other issues discussed included the need to publicise success stories; the need to engage with Ward Members in cases of blue badge, residents parking and housing fraud; and the annual review of the City Council’s whistle blowing policy.


7.5       RESOLVED: That the end of year report for Counter Fraud 2018/19 be noted.



That details be provided by Ward of the 93 recorded cases of fraud relating to disabled parking.  (Action by Andy Hyatt - Tri-Borough Head of Fraud)


Work Programme and Action Tracker pdf icon PDF 240 KB

The Committee is invited to review its work programme.

Additional documents:


8.1       The Committee noted the items that were on its Work Programme for the next meeting on 19th September.


8.2       RESOLVED:  That


1.         The Work Programme including the agenda items for the next meeting on 19th September 2019 be noted; and


2.         The review of the performance of the Metropolitan Police Basic Command Unit for Westminster be kept on the Committee’s Work Programme and allocated to a meeting when appropriate.



Any Other Business

To consider any other business which the Chairman considers urgent.