ARMC Terms of Reference
Philip McCourt, Director of Governance and Assurance introduced his report that presented the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA) publication Audit Committees: Practical Guidance for Local Authorities and Police (2018), and associated Position Statement, for review and comment.
The Position Statement emphasised the importance of audit committees being in place in all principal local authorities and police bodies and recognised that audit committees are a key component of governance, setting out guidance on the committee’s function and operation. It also included suggested terms of reference and Members were asked to consider revising the Audit and Risk Management Committee’s constitution and terms of reference to be in accord with this national guidance.
The Director of Governance an Assurance provided Members with a summary of the content of his report that detailed the CIPFA view on best practice for audit committees in local authorities throughout the UK and for police audit committees in England and Wales.
The Director of Governance and Assurance highlighted two key elements of note, namely that:
- as part of Governance Review and the move away from audit and risk oversight of a one party executive model to a politically proportional committee based system of governance at Wirral Council (and resultant changes to the Constitution), more in depth consideration regarding changes to the Audit and Risk Management Committee responsibilities i.e. management of risk – to form part of each new Committee terms of reference – would be required; and
- the inclusion of an Independent Member on the new ‘Audit Committee’ be it a Constitution, Audit or Standards Committee - or any combination of these responsibility areas.
Such considerations / recommendations would be progressed as the Governance Review progressed, with recommendations presented to the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee at the appropriate time.
Chair expressed a view that he was not keen on seeing role of the current Audit and Risk Management Committee being ‘diluted’ and questioned the Director regarding future consultation on the matter.
Mr McCourt responded informing that all these matters were led by Member Working Group, who in turn report back to their political groups, prior to final agreement at Council.
Chair – thank Mr McCourt and encouraged Members from all political groups to make representations as the Governance Review progressed.
The Chair expressed the views of the Committee that the Director of Governance and Assurance be thanked for his report, and it was
Resolved – That:
1) the revised CIPFA’s Position Statement: Audit Committees in Local Authorities and Police (2018), be noted; and
(a) an alteration to the make-up of the Audit and Risk Management Committee to include the appointment of an independent person as per the 2018 Position Statement, be agreed;
(b) updating of the Committee’s current terms of reference to those suggested by the 2018 Position Statement (attached at Appendix A to the report), be considered as part of the Governance Review; and
(c) the impact that a change to a committee system might have on the role and function of the committee, including the option to combine audit, governance and standards functions in one committee, taking into account example alternatives from other authorities (as attached at Appendix C to the report), also be considered as part of the Governance Review; and
3) Members be requested to feed their views, observations or recommendations on any matters pertaining to the above matters and the Governance Review to the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee’s Governance Working Group.