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Agenda item

Review of Financial Governance


The Committee had before it a report by Alex Stephen (Chief Finance Officer, ACHSCP) which outlined the results of the review undertaken by the Executive Team against financial governance requirements contained in the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)’s statement on the Role of the Chief Financial Officer in Local Government (2016).


The report recommended:-

That the Committee note the content of the report and comment on the accompanying results of the Executive Team review.


Alex Stephen explained that the Executive Team had conducted a review of the Board's financial governance arrangements against the CIPFA principles outlined in the Role of the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) in Local Government (2016). He advised that evidence of adherence to these principles had been requested during the 2015/16 audit of the final accounts, and noted that areas in need of further development had also been identified. Thereafter Mr Stephen talked the Committee through each of the CIPFA principles:


With reference to principle 1, Mr Stephen highlighted the leadership role of the CFO through membership of the Executive Team and the IJB as a non-voting member. He explained that it was the intention of the Executive Team to consolidate all relevant documentation into a governance action plan which would be presented to the IJB for approval, with a recommendation that responsibility for monitoring be delegated to this Committee. Mr Stephen set out his responsibilities, in addition to his role as CFO and noted that in these areas he largely provided an oversight function as operational control was exercised by Partnership colleagues. He confirmed that the financial skillset of the Executive Team was satisfactory but anticipated that financial training will  be provided to colleagues involved in the locality planning once the localities management structures are more developed. Mr Stephen highlighted the representativeness of the IJB, as it included partners from across the public and third/independent sectors; as well as service users and carer representatives. He also summarised the monitoring arrangements in place between the Partnership and Bon Accord Care;


With reference to principle 2, Mr Stephen provided an overview of the business and financial planning process and pointed to the successful approach adopted by the Partnership towards the IJB budget which included the scheduling of workshop sessions and financial briefings prior to the budget meeting which enhanced the Board's decision making capacity and led to the unanimous agreement of the IJB budget in March 2017. He explained that in line with the IJB Budget Protocol, a similar approach would be adopted next year as a special budget meeting had been scheduled and there would be greater focus on strategic items such as the transformation agenda. Thereafter Mr Stephen provided a summary of how the Board issued Directions to its partners, particularly in relation to procurement; and he explained that ACC and NHSG had responsibility for treasury management as the Partnership did not have a bank account;


With reference to principle 3, Mr Stephen highlighted that Internal Audit would prepare an annual report and statement on the internal control system adopted by the IJB and its partners on the management and safeguarding of public money. He advised that further assurance had been provided through the publication of IJB/APS Committee papers on the Partnership's website; and noted that IJB and Committee meetings were open to the public and press. The Chief Officer added that the Annual Governance Statement would also be publicly available and the Executive Team would look at how the Statement could be presented in a user friendly format. She further noted that the review of the Board Assurance Framework and the ongoing work of the Good Governance Institute would provide additional assurance in this area;


With reference to principle 4, Mr Stephen advised that the CFO had no line management responsibilities for ACC or NHSG finance staff and it was incumbent on both partners to provide resource and capacity to support the Partnership's functions; and


With reference to principle 5, Mr Stephen summarised his professional qualifications and experience which enabled him to satisfy the requirements of the CFO job profile. He also pointed to the Partnership's robust recruitment process which led to his appointment.


Thereafter there were questions on the best way to communicate the Board's Annual Governance Statement to the public; and the level of support the CFO had received from colleagues within and out with the Partnership.


The Committee resolved:-

(i)        to request that the Executive Team look at how the Annual Governance Statement could be presented in a user friendly format;

(ii)       to instruct the Clerk to circulate the review of the IJB's financial governance arrangements to all IJB members for information; and

(iii)       otherwise note the report.


Supporting documents: