The Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance submitted a report providing an update on the development of the Strategic Concerns/Risk Register and proposing that at future meetings there be an opportunity for a ‘deep dive’ review of specific strategic risks with an appropriate Executive Director in attendance to update and assure the Committee on the management of their individual strategic risks for their service.
It was noted that the current Register contained 13 risks and, using a new system of risk assessment, the Senior Management Team had classified 11 as being important (amber rating) and 2 as ‘requires attention’ (green rating) in relation to the level of response and intervention required.
The Head of Internal Audit then demonstrated the Power BI Dashboard highlighting the concerns/risks on screen and showing how Members could drill down into the background, the actions and key target dates identified for each strategic risk. He stated that for subsequent meetings a brief covering report would be provided together with the link to access the risk system (guidance for which would be made available). He reminded Members that having an oversight and obtaining assurances about the Council’s Risk Management arrangements and the management of specific risks and concerns was a key responsibility of this Committee.
The new system was continuing to be populated with risks for all service areas and business units and to date a total of 117 risks had been logged with more being added daily.
An appendix to the report showed the current strategic risks/concerns which would enable Members determine the priorities for their ‘deep dives’. It was proposed to earmark four Committee meetings throughout the year where such strategic risks/concerns could be presented and discussed.
This new approach to corporate risk management and on how the Committee obtained assurances would be continually reviewed to enable any changes and refinements to be made as appropriate.
In the ensuing discussion, the following matters were highlighted:
· Members generally welcomed the new approach to risk management and to the strategic risks identified but assurance was sought that all potential risks had been identified and logged particularly taking account of actions that had been identified within other local authorities. The Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance stated that the collection and identification of issues had been very much led by the Senior Management Team in order to identify those key strategic risks. The new approach to risk management was, however, about the forward look and horizon scan of issues and potential issues and this was a fundamental change from the old approach. The Executive Director Core Services echoed the comments made and commented on how SMT had ensured that they had identified the risks, how check and challenge had been undertaken to ensure this and to make sure that the issues for the organisation had been identified. He stated that it had been SMT’s suggestion that each Executive Director attend this Committee to enable Members to drill down into each risk area in order to give an assurance that the risks were being managed appropriately. This approach was very much welcomed by Members of the Committee
· It was felt that any of the strategic risks identified would be worthy of being brought to Committee for a ‘deep dive’ and it was suggested that this be rotated between each of the Executive Directors
· It was acknowledged that the risks changed over time, however, at the moment the risk of the authority losing revenue because of business failure was likely to get worse given the impact of the Covid pandemic. Questions were asked as to the number of business failures there had been over the last 12 months. The Service Director Finance stated that this was a live risk and indeed the budget item scheduled for later in the meeting included a forecast of the potential impact. He was unable to give the information about the precise number of business failures but would provide this after the meeting. He would also include details of new business start-ups during that period
· Arising out of the above, the Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance commented on the change to the risk register which now focused on corporate governance and on ensuring that the correct arrangements were in place through sound financial management for dealing with the threats faced by the authority and potential changes in resource allocation and income etc.
· Members were satisfied that the new approach to risk management would ensure that the authority was able to deal with risks and issues as they arrived/were identified rather than dealing with historical/legacy issues
· Members were happy for the Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance and the Service Director Finance to use their professional judgement as to which Executive Director to invite to Committee for an examination of their specific strategic risks. This would be reflected within the Committee’s work plan submitted to the next meeting
Written responses to questions asked by Members of the Committee were provided as follows:
· In relation to risk 5 ‘Educational Outcomes Progress’ and particularly in relation to vulnerable groups and boys falling behind, information was provided on action being taken to assess and provide remedial action as follows:
o High level action 1 - Assurance regarding the existence and effectiveness of data monitoring systems, engagement with schools and the use of interventions
Status - Barnsley Alliance – agreed the principles of working – with a focus on specific actions arising e.g. remote learning, exam cohorts. Reports were submitted into SMT of Covid performance indicators – including considering attendance, exclusions etc.
o High level action 2 - Utilising the partnership arrangements in place around Covid 19 to ensure there remained a focus on outcomes
Status - Barnsley Alliance - sector lead partnership meetings were held fortnightly. The Education Skills Sub Group and Barnsley Tactical Group reported into Gold meetings on a weekly/fortnightly basis
· The ‘requires attention’ status of the Risk Register reflected a monitoring / ‘keeping an eye on things’ rather than requiring more urgent action / intervention. Each area had its own actions and timescales determined by the action owners. Most actions had quarterly review dates to ensure that oversight was planned
· Information was provided about the external market provision in Adult Social Care and about the strategy to try to ascertain what concerns were and how these could be addressed. Reference was made to the following:
o High level action 1 - Assurances regarding the current and predicted status of Adult Social Care provision in the Borough.
Status - Work was being undertaken to update the market position statement and to engage with providers around future commissioning requirements. Commissioning intentions document would also be updated.
o High level action 2- Engagement with the market to explore options and build appropriate plans to address capacity and quality issues and concerns.
Status - Discussions were underway with Residential Care providers about the future state of the market. A 3-year development plan to help shape the market was being developed. There had been further analysis of the market both regionally (collaborative piece of work with LGA and ADASS Yorkshire & Humber) alongside local analysis. This would result in the production of a Market Position Statement (stating what was needed in Barnsley and why) followed by a delivery plan.
(i) That the update of the Strategic Risk Register and the current strategic concerns/risks be noted, and that approval be given to the proposed approach for the Committee to obtain assurances regarding the management of strategic concerns and risks; and
(ii) That the Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance and the Service Director Finance arrange for each Executive Director to attend meetings of this Committee to enable members to have a ‘deep dive’ into their respective strategic risks.