Agenda item

Corporate Risk Management

To consider the significant strategic risks and issues highlighted in the report and present these to the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee.


The Committee received a report from the Audit Manager on the significant strategic risks to the Council in delivering its priorities.


The Committee received one question from a member of the public in relation to this agenda item:


Question One from Kath Sanders


Question: We are told three times in Appendix A that SBC has “participated in a review of capital risk mitigation with DLUHC and CIPFA” and is “in the process of taking on board any improvement suggestions”.

What are the improvement suggestions and when will the full report be published?


Response from the Chair: Many thanks for your question.


Whilst it is true that approximately twelve months ago officers and some councillors had constructive but confidential discussions with CIPFA colleagues, this has not yet led to any formal report or communication from DLUHC. This is in contrast for example with Runnymede Borough Council who were having similar discussions at the same time and who before Christmas received a Best Value non-statutory report from DLUHC.


Therefore we do not know what, if any, improvement recommendations we may receive from DLUHC or when, if ever, we will receive a formal set of recommendations. In the discussions with CIPFA we covered a number of strands including issues we were already addressing such as further periodic review by external experts of the performance of the investment assets portfolio (JLL recently reported to Development Sub-Committee), enhancing internal audit resilience and capacity (Council in February voted to move its internal audit arrangements to the Southern Internal Audit Partnership).


The Internal Audit Manager identified that the format and presentation of the Risk Register has been refreshed following implementation of a new system, this included removal of surplus content.


The Committee queried why the information on risk relating to the Local Plan had not been updated following the Extraordinary Environment & Sustainability meeting on 29 February 2024. The Internal Audit Manager advised that while she was presenting the report, individual risk owners were responsible for updating information relating to specific risk areas. It was agreed that this would be updated prior to the report being presented to Corporate Policy and Resources Committee in April 2024.


The Committee requested clarification around risk category 7 (Corporate Capacity, Resources, Recruitment and Retention) and asked why there was nothing related to the hiring of contractors on increased salaries for a special role that did not exist within the Council. The Internal Audit Manager advised that under the mitigating actions, reference was made to the Corporate Establishment Review which did address the issue of contractors. The Deputy Chief Executive advised the Committee that hiring of contractors was carried out in accordance with procurement rules, Contract Standing Orders, and reports would have been presented to relevant Committees.


The Committee asked why the risk around Borrowing (risk category 5) was given a score of 9 and queried whether it should be higher. The Deputy Chief Executive advised that the risk was focused on the rising interest rates and that mitigations were in place to minimise the risk including; Treasury Management Strategy 2023-24, support from specialist treasury management advisors, and application of the CIPFA Code of Practice and Prudential and Treasury Management Codes.


The Committee queried why the Council would be moving to a zero-based budgeting approach . The Deputy Chief Executive advised that there were significant challenges ahead and that Councils would likely see a reduction in grant allocations and the amount of business rates that could be retained. The Chief Accountant added that zero-based budgets would ensure that services were in line with the Corporate Plan and would provide an opportunity to rebuild budgets in a robust manner. The Deputy Chief Executive advised that while zero-based budgeting was normally a one-off exercise it could take more than one budget cycle to do thoroughly.


The Committee resolved to consider the significant strategic risks and issues highlighted in the report and present them to the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee, ensuring continued wider reporting of the Corporate Risk Register and actions across other Committees.

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