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Minutes of the Meeting held on 5 June 2023

DERBYSHIRE FIRE & RESCUE AUTHORITY
GOVERNANCE AND PERFORMANCE WORKING GROUP

    ITEM 3

Present:

  • Cllr Trevor Ainsworth (Chair)
  • Cllr Sue Burfoot
  • Cllr Ludwig Ramsey
  • Cllr Jack Woolley
  • Robert Taylor – Deputy Chief Fire Officer
  • Louise Taylor – Solicitor/Monitoring Officer
  • Emma Crapper – Director of People Services
  • Clive Stanbrook – Area Manager Community Safety & Central         Policy   
  • Rachel McNamee – Head of Accountancy
  • Jessice Pillay – Ernst & Young LLP
  • Hannah McDonald - Derby City Council/CMAP 
  • Matthew Shepherd – Watch Manager HMICFRS Support Officer

Guests:

  • Simon Abbs - Station Manager Business Change/OD

Committee Clerk:    Rebecca Barsby – PA to Principal Officer Support

1. APOLOGIES

  • Cllr Potter and Cllr Gourlay
  • Mandy Marples - Derby City Council/CMAP
  • Mark Nash – Head of Corporate Financial Services

This meeting was not quorate but it is not a decision-making group. 

2. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

None.

3. MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 5 June 2023

Members noted that amended Minutes will go to the next Fire Authority meeting for approval. There were no actions arising from the minutes. 

4. MINISTER’S LETTER ON STATE OF PUBLIC SECTOR AUDIT 

R McNamee, Head of Accountancy, provided a summary of the Minister’s letter and how the impact on the Service. There are three accounts that are still open with the auditors, 2020/2021, 2021/2022 and 2022/2023. As the years go on, the information becomes become less valuable, so these accounts are hoping to be closed by next summer with the 2020/2021 account being closed at the end of the month. 

The Service has always met the statutory deadlines for publishing the draft accounts, however delays by the External Auditor in audit of accounts have delayed approval of accounts. The PSAA set the fees for open accounts and there will be additional costs for these accounts. 

The External Auditors recognise the need to restore the timeliness of the financial reporting and audit. 

Members asked when the next update would be given on the position as the letter was sent in July 2023 and delays affect the Finance Team having to work on several accounts.

J Pillay, Ernst & Young LLP anticipated that one account would be closed by the end of the year, and the other two by mid-2024. H Clark will meet with M Nash and Cllr Ainsworth in due course to discuss the accounts.  

5. EXTERNAL AUDIT PLANNING REPORT 2022-23

J Pillay from Ernst & Young LLP presented the report providing an overview on the assessment, risks, materiality, value for money (VFM) considerations and the External Auditor’s approach. Due to national delays in the audit schedule this report relates to the 2021/2022 financial year and not 2022/2023. 

Members discussed the report and noted information provided.

6. FIREWATCH FINAL REPORT

H McDonald from Central Midlands Audit Partnership presented the report and noted that the focus of the audit was the implementation of the new HR system, the processes around establishment data entry, data continuity and the integration between Firewatch and other systems in the Authority. There were only two low risk issues raised that have both been addressed.  Management provided an update on the second issue that Team Leaders now sign off the NOC's electronically with them being available to view with the approval on Firewatch.    The audit was given Substantial Assurance. 
Members discussed the report and noted information provided.

7. DATA ANALYIS – GENERAL LEDGER REPORT

H McDonald from Central Midlands Audit Partnership presented the report. The audit focused on performing data analytics over the General Ledger for spend with suppliers in order to find potential off-contract spend that could identify gaps in the contracts register, non-compliance with the Public Contract Regulations and requirements to publish contract opportunities on the Contract’s Finder website.  Four significant risk issues were raised and these linked with observations within the Audit Opinion report presented at the last GPWG meeting about capacity issues within the Service. The issues raised within the audit related to being unable to determine whether contracts were in place, the contracts databased not being comprehensively maintained, non-compliance with the Transparency Code and a lack of procurement guidance and oversight.  This audit resulted in a Limited Assurance rating. E Crapper stated there were joint arrangements being established with the Police and discussions were taking place around short and long term options for resolving the capacity issues within the Procurement function.

ACTION: E Crapper will provide an update on procurement / contracts at the next GPWG in November 2023

Members discussed the report and noted information provided.

8. IT KEY CONTROLS 2022-23 FINAL REPORT

McDonald from Central Midlands Audit Partnership presented the report, which focused on the Service’s vulnerability management policies and procedures and the configuration and management of the Service’s virtual desktop system infrastructure (VDI) and the virtual server infrastructure (VSI). A small number of checks were removed from scope of the audit due to a lack of responses and supporting evidence and so assurance cannot be provided as to the adequacy of controls that were in place around them. Most of the risks were rated low with the exception of one being a moderate risk issue as a number of devices had unsupported versions of Windows 10 and a small number of devices had no security patches applied in the previous 3 months. The audit was given a Reasonable Assurance rating. E Crapper outlined the pressures and resourcing issues in the IT team.  

ACTION: E Crapper to discuss this with the IT Manager. 

Members discussed the report and noted information provided.

9. INTERNAL AUDIT PROGRESS REPORT

H McDonald from Central Midlands Audit Partnership presented the report and noted current progress with the Internal Audit Plan for 2023-24 and those audits brought forward for completion from the previous financial year, which included the three reports discussed previously. The report also details recommendations that have yet to be implemented, for GPWG’s scrutiny. The report highlighted a risk accepted issue on the IT Homeworking Key Controls audit.  E Crapper noted that desktops were being phased out which would further mitigate the risk.

Members noted information provided. 

10. PROPOSED SCRUTINY PROGRAMME

L Taylor, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, provided three topics for scrutiny for the 2023-24 year but other topics can be added if required. 

T Ainsworth, proposed that Exit Interviews be reviewed and it was confirmed that this action was part of the Action Plan and details would be brought back to GPWG for scrutiny. 

Members discussed the report and noted information provided. 

11. COPORATE RISK DASHBOARD 2022/23 (FIREVIEW LIVE DATA)

S Abbs, Station Manager Business Change / Organisational Development, displayed the live dashboard, to which there were five current actions open and these were being monitored and acted upon as necessary.  
Members noted information provided. 

12. HMICFRS 2022 INSPECTION ACTION PLAN

E Crapper, Director of People Services, stated that there was a timeline set up until April 2024 for completion of tasks. , The next inspection date was set for April 2024  but now has been moved to November 2024. However, the timeline for current actions will remain the same. 

Members noted information provided.

13. HMICFRS 2023 CULTURE SPOTLIGHT ACTION PLAN

E Crapper, Director of People Services, confirmed that an action plan was in place, and work was progressing on these to address the HMICFRS recommendations. , A record of the additional costs to the Service were being recorded for reference, such as the introduction of the independent helpline line and the new requirement for Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks which have additional cost implications for the Service. 

Members discussed the report and noted information provided. 

14. MEMBERS ALLOWANCE

L Taylor, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue, reported that the Annual Members’ Allowance report which will be presented at the next meeting of the Fire Authority.

Members noted information provided.

15. QUARTER 1 PERFORMANCE SUMMARY 2023-24 

R Taylor, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, presented the findings of the Quarter 1 Performance Summary for 2023-24.

Members noted information provided.