Annual Governance Statement 2019/20

1.0 Introduction And Scope Of Responsibility

1.1    Good governance can mean different things to people – in the public sector it means: 

"Achieving the intended outcomes while acting in the public interest at all times" 

Corporate governance generally refers to the processes by which an organisation is directed, controlled, led and held to account.  

1.2    North Yorkshire County Council’s (the County Council) governance framework aims to ensure that in conducting its business it: 

  • operates in a lawful, open, inclusive and honest manner, 
  • makes sure public money is safeguarded, properly accounted for and spent wisely
  • has effective arrangements in place to manage risk 
  • meets the needs of North Yorkshire communities – secures continuous improvements in the way it operates. 

1.3    Our governance framework comprises the culture, values, systems and processes by which the County Council is directed and controlled. It brings together an underlying set of legislative and regulatory requirements, good practice principles and management processes. The full Governance Framework can be found at paragraph 3 in this document. 

1.4    Each year the County Council is required to produce an Annual Governance Statement (AGS) which describes how its corporate governance arrangements have been working. To help us do this the County Council's Corporate Governance Officers Group and Audit Committee undertake a review of our Governance Framework and the development of the AGS. 

1.5    It is crucial to the County Council's success that its governance arrangements are applied in a way that demonstrates the spirit and ethos of good governance – this cannot be achieved by rules and procedures alone. The County Council is expected to have a culture that places the public and integrity at the heart of its business.

1.6    This AGS is linked to the County Council’s Local Code of Corporate Governance through the seven Principles of Corporate Governance in the Local Code. The Local Code is also consistent with the principles of the CIPFA/SOLACE Framework Delivering Good Governance in Local Government (2016) and is reviewed annually. Minor amendments have been made to the Local Code this year to ensure it represents continual corporate governance best practice. However, approval of the updated version by the Audit Committee and the Chief Executive (following the Constitution under the Officers’ Delegation Scheme) has been delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  A copy of the local code can be obtained here (pdf / 835 KB). The Audit Committee also review the County Council’s corporate governance arrangements usually in June of each year alongside the Annual Governance Statement.

1.7    This AGS explains how the County Council has complied with its Local Code and also meets the requirements of Regulation 6(1) of the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 in relation to the publication of an Annual Governance Statement.

1.8    This AGS also confirms that the financial management arrangements within the County Council conform with the governance requirements of the CIPFA Statement on the Role of the Chief Financial Officer in Local Government (2015)

1.9    Coronavirus has had an impact on the County Council during March 2020 and beyond which resulted in changes being made to governance arrangements. These included decision making arrangements and County Council meetings, delivery of services and working practices, emergency assistance, funding, and the introduction of new priorities. CIPFA has issued guidance and briefings which have been taken account of in this Annual Governance Statement.

North Yorkshire Pension Fund

1.10    The governance arrangements and Final Accounts of the North Yorkshire Pension Fund (NYPF) are audited separately from the County Council. However, because the NYPF is administered by the County Council, the governance arrangements of the County Council also apply to the NYPF. This AGS therefore also forms part of the governance framework for the NYPF. However, there are also a number of additional documents that relate solely to the governance arrangements of the NYPF – these are NOT referred to further in this AGS as they relate only to the governance of the NYPF. For further details of the specific governance arrangements of the NYPF please refer to the NYPF website.

1.11    NYPF is one of 12 members of the Borders to Coast Pensions Pool (BCPP). This Company is now in full operation and has assets under management. NYPF has assets of circa £1 billion as at 31 March 2020 invested with BCPP and has further plans to increase this amount. BCPP has established governance rules and procedures including a Joint Committee and how it engages with shareholders. Administration of the NYPF, at this stage, remains entirely within the remit of the County Council’s Pension Fund Committee.

2.0    Executive Summary

2.1    North Yorkshire County Council is responsible for ensuring that resources are directed in accordance with agreed policy, according to priorities and, that there is sound and inclusive decision making. There is also clear accountability to the public for the use of those resources in order to achieve desired outcomes for service users and communities.

2.2    A key focus of the County Council’s governance processes and structure is the attainment of sustainable economic, societal, and environmental objectives. The County Council’s governance arrangements are the framework by which the County Council operates in order to achieve its objectives. The focus on sustainability and the links between governance and public financial management are crucial. Furthermore, the County Council in exercising its responsibilities takes into account the impact of current decisions and actions on future generations.

2.3    The Governance Framework operating during 2019/20 is considered to have provided reasonable and objective assurance that significant risks impacting on the achievement of the County Council’s principal objectives would be identified and actions taken to avoid or mitigate their impact. 

2.4    Having considered all the principles in the CIPFA Code of Practice on Managing the Risk of Fraud and Corruption 2014, on behalf of the County Council the signatories of this Statement are satisfied that the County Council has adopted a response that is appropriate for its fraud and corruption risks and commits to maintain its vigilance to tackle fraud.

2.5    Some issues that require further attention have, however, been identified and these are set out in Section 7 together with details of how they will be addressed during 2020/21. Reports on progress will be submitted to the Audit Committee.

2.6    The impact of the Coronavirus has also been taken into account, with Section 7 reflecting the lessons learned and actions to be taken in the recovery from the virus during 2020/21.

3.0    The purpose of the governance framework

3.1    The Governance Framework as detailed in the Local Code comprises the systems, processes, culture and values by which the County Council is directed and controlled and the activities through which it accounts to, engages with and leads the community. It enables the County Council to monitor the achievement of its strategic objectives and to consider whether those objectives have led to the delivery of appropriate, cost effective services.

3.2    The system of internal control is a significant part of that Governance Framework and is designed to manage risk to a reasonable level rather than try to eliminate all risk of failure to achieve policies, aims and objectives. Because it is not possible to eliminate all risks, the system of internal control can therefore only provide reasonable and not absolute assurance of effectiveness. The system of internal control is based on a continuous process designed to identify and prioritise the risks that threaten the achievement of the County Council’s policies, aims and objectives, to evaluate the likelihood of those risks being realised and the impact should they be realised, and then to manage them efficiently, effectively and economically.

3.3    The overall Governance Framework, and in particular the system of internal control, described in this AGS, has been in place within the County Council for the year ended 31 March 2020 and up to the date of approval by the Audit Committee of this Statement alongside the Statement of Final Accounts on 26 October 2020 .

4.0 The Governance Framework

The Governance Framework

a)    Developing codes of conduct which define standards of behaviour for Members and staff, and policies dealing with whistleblowing and conflicts of interest and that these codes and policies are communicated effectively

Governance in Action
  • Elected Members have to agree to follow a Code of Conduct and an ethical framework to ensure high standards in the way they undertake their duties. Members must complete a Register of Interests which is publicly available. The County Council has established a Standards Committee, which monitors the operation of the Code of Conduct. The Committee has in place procedures for the assessment, investigation and determination of complaints against Members (involving Independent Persons) and a procedure for granting dispensations.
  • Staff operate to a corporate Behaviours Framework which is used to develop staff skills and monitor performance. A Manager’s Pocket Book is in place and outlines key behaviours for all managers in NYCC.
  • Following the formation of the Brierley Group of commercial companies such as Align Property Partners, appropriate governance arrangements have been put in place. A Shareholder Sub Committee of Executive and a Shareholder Board to support the Shareholder Sub Committee, are in place.
Code of Conduct
  • There is a Local Code of Corporate Governance in place that is fully consistent with the CIPFA / SOLACE Framework Delivering Good Governance in Local Government. The Local Code defines:
    • the fundamental values and principles of corporate governance
    • the corporate governance framework and arrangements to deliver it within the County Council
    • arrangements for annual review and reporting of the framework.
  • Registers of interests, gifts and hospitality are also maintained for Members and officers. Guidance notes are produced to assist. Details of Related Party Transactions are sought from all Members and senior officers.
 Local Code of Corporate Governance (pdf / 835 KB)
  • The County Council has approved and implemented a formal Whistleblowing Policy which is reviewed annually by the Audit Committee.
Whistleblowing Policy

b)     Ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations, internal policies and procedures, and that expenditure is lawful

  • The Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Democratic Services) is the officer designated by the County Council as the Monitoring Officer and is responsible for performing the duties required by S.5 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 which relate to ensuring the legality of the County Council’s operations and the duties in the Localism Act 2011 relating to the promotion of high ethical standards. 
    • the Monitoring Officer is a member of the Management Board and attends or is represented, and monitors decision making at the County Council, Executive and all Committees.

S.5 Local Government and Housing Act 1989

Localism Act 2011

  • The Corporate Director – Strategic Resources is the Chief Financial Officer for the purposes of S.151 of the Local Government Act 1972
  • The requirements of the Data Protection and Freedom of Information legislation are overseen by the Corporate Information Governance Group (CIGG), the Corporate Director – Strategic Resources is the Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO) for the County Council. The Corporate Director – Strategic Resources with support from CIGG has developed and implemented a comprehensive Information Governance Framework which continues to be reviewed and updated in light of further guidance and developments.

S.151 Local Government Act 1972

Data Protection Act 2018

Freedom of Information Act 2000

  • Following implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 in May 2018, updated policies and processes have been put in place to comply with the new legislation. A Data Protection Officer (Veritau) has also been appointed.  Veritau provides internal audit and a range of related services to both the City of York Council and the County Council. Both authorities jointly own the company. For governance purposes, Veritau reports to the Audit Committee in the same way as an in-house function.
  • The County Council operates an Information Security Management System which is certified to the requirements of ISO/IEC 27001 (Information Security). Compliance will continue to be monitored, and further review audits by BSI (British Standards Institute) will be carried out every six months.
  • the next full re-certification to the ISO 27001:2013 will take place in December 2022 with regular annual assessments. The work to maintain this standard is coordinated by the Senior Information Security Compliance Officer working in conjunction with the Data Governance Team.
  • In addition, the County Council now operates an Information Technology Service Management System which was awarded re-certification to ISO/IEC 20000 in February 2019. The next re-certification will be in February 2022. ISO 20000 provides quality assurance to the processes, policies and procedures operated in the delivery of ICT Services to the County Council and is the only standard specifically aligned to Information Technology service delivery and service management
    • by achieving and maintaining certification of both standards this serves to deliver services which are compliant, quality assured, and provide continual improvement.
  • The County Council is also certified to the Public Sector Network (PSN) Code of Connection. The certifications have enabled the County Council, for example, to be certified for connection to secure video conferencing with the Criminal Justice System. The certification also enabled our connection to the NHS.net and access to Department for Work and Pensions systems.
  • The Corporate Health and Safety Policy is reviewed annually in May and the revised and approved Policy is then issued in June. The Policy takes account of recent Health and Safety Executive guidance relating to the management of health and safety and sets out the key responsibilities of staff. 
    • each Directorate has a health and safety action plan which is reviewed on a quarterly basis to ensure that health and safety risks are identified and appropriately managed across the County Council
  • The Equality and Diversity Policy Statement is reviewed annually and revised when necessary. The County Council uses equality impact assessments as part of ensuring that due regard is paid to eliminating unlawful discrimination, advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations. The County Council has also published equality information and objectives as required by the Equalities Act 2010.
  • There is a comprehensive annual plan for Employment Policies to ensure that all policies and practices adhere to all relevant legislation. This year compliance with the National Minimum Wage Regulations was reviewed. All policy updates go through a full consultation with unions recognised by the County Council.
  • Public bodies employing more than 250 staff are required to publish figures on the gender pay gap; gender bonus gap; the proportion of men and women receiving bonuses and the proportion of men and women in each quartile of the pay structure. The County Council publishes information annually relating to the gender pay gap. Information about this can be found on the County Council website. 
  • Internal Audit operates in accordance with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) and the County Council’s Audit Charter. The annual work programme is set out in a risk based Audit Plan following consultation with individual Directorates and the External Auditor. The Audit Committee approves the Audit Plan and receives, thereafter, regular reports on its progress.
    • the Head of Internal Audit expresses an opinion on the County Council’s framework of governance, risk management and control on an annual basis. 
    • during 2019/20, the Audit Plan included audits on a number of corporate themes, such audits are key to providing the appropriate assurance to the County Council that its overall governance arrangements remain effective.

Public Sector Network (PSN)

Health and Safety Policy

Equality and Diversity Policy Statement

Gender Pay Gap

c)    Documenting a commitment to openness and acting in the public interest

  • It is important to the County Council to present itself in an open and accessible manner to ensure that matters are dealt with transparently, in so far as the need for confidentiality allows
  • A Council Plan and a Statement of Final Accounts are published annually to inform stakeholders and services users of the County Council’s vision, ambitions and priorities for the next four years and the previous year’s achievements and outcomes
  • A Medium Term Financial Strategy and the Annual Revenue Budget including its impact on Council Tax, are published and consulted on each year
  • Effective channels of communication which reach all groups within the community and other stakeholders are maintained as well as offering a range of consultation methods; to this end the County Council has a Communications Strategy to support the Beyond 2020 Change Programme and an Engagement Promise
    • the Engagement Promise is a statement of principles about how the County Council enables and encourages people to influence decisions. They are high level principles, so it is not anticipated that regular changes will be required but they are reviewed by officers annually
  • There are also a variety of opportunities for the public to engage effectively with the County Council including attending meetings, opportunity to ask questions at meetings, written consultations, surveys, web chats with the Leader and Chief Executive. This all contributes to a commitment to openness, acting in the public interest and are documented where appropriate.

Council Plan

Final Accounts

Consultation and Community Engagement

d)    Establishing clear channels of communication with all sections of the community and other stakeholders, ensuring accountability and encouraging open consultation

  • Elected Members have a significant role to play in ensuring compliance and propriety, either collectively (e.g. through the work of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees), and individually as local representatives, providing feedback from their constituents
  • The County Council communicates the Vision of its purpose and intended outcomes for all stakeholders to enable accountability and encourage open consultation. To enable this, analysis of the County Council’s stakeholders is undertaken and relevant and effective channels of communication are developed. Key mechanisms include –
    • publishing a Council Plan which sets out the County Council’s vision, ambitions and priorities for the next four years
    • the Council Plan, and annual Statement of Final Accounts also inform stakeholders and services users of the previous year’s achievements and outcomes
    • opportunities for the public to engage effectively with the County Council including attending meetings and submitting petitions
    • North Yorkshire Views is our online engagement community where residents can have their say and share ideas about the way the County Council operates. 
    • Consultation toolkit and on-line training package that provide advice to all staff about how to consult effectively
    • an engagement promise setting out in simple terms how everyone who lives or works in the county, or uses the County Council’s services can influence decisions.
    • maintaining a County Council website that provides access to information, delivers services and opportunities for public engagement, including delivery of information required by the transparency agenda
    • using social media to inform and engage with residents for example, on development of services, provision of information, responding to concerns and issues
    • publication of an e-newsletter, available by subscription or through the council website, covering news and information about the County Council and its services
    • a partnership with newspaper publisher Johnston Press to provide a monthly round-up of news and information specific for the local area, for local readers
    • communicating and engaging with staff across the County Council, through a number of different internal communications channels

Council Plan

N Y Views

Engagement promise

e)    Developing and communicating a vision which specifies intended outcomes for citizens and service users and is used as a basis for planning

  • The key corporate strategy documents (i.e. the Council Plan, Medium Term Financial Strategy and Revenue Budget), are reviewed and updated annually
  • The Terms of Reference of the Audit Committee require it to maintain an on-going assessment of the adequacy and effectiveness of the internal control environment within the County Council. The published Work Programme for the Audit Committee includes provision to review the impact of changes to service delivery and / or management processes on the governance arrangements of the County Council
  • The Members’ Constitution Working Group supported and advised by the Monitoring Officer review the Constitution as required on an ongoing basis and conduct a formal review of the whole Constitution every four years. 

f)    Translating the vision into courses of action for the County Council, its commercial companies, its partnerships and collaborations

  • Based on the Council Plan and Annual Budget / MTFS process, each Service sets out its detailed objectives, performance targets, available resources and risk assessment which are included in a Service Plan.
  • Commercial Companies – the County Council has a number of companies which it uses to deliver specific services/functions. Along with the in-house traded services to schools, these companies are grouped together to form the ‘Brierley Group’. An Executive Shareholder Committee has been created to oversee the governance of the commercial companies and a number of delegations have been made to the Chief Executive for operational activities.
  • An annual review is carried out on partnership arrangements which considers a range of factors. This is reported to the Audit Committee as part of the County Council’s approach to governance.
Council Plan

g)    Reviewing the effectiveness of the decision-making framework, including delegation arrangements, decision-making in partnerships, information provided to decision makers and robustness of data quality

  • The Constitution sets out how the County Council operates, how decisions are made and by whom, and the procedures that are followed to ensure that these are efficient, transparent and accountable to local people. The Constitution also includes the detailed Contract, Financial and Property Procedure Rules, Schemes of Delegation, Codes of Conduct. These are reviewed and updated when the need arises to ensure they are consistent with the contemporary operating requirements of the County Council.
  • As indicated above, the County Council has approved Budget and Policy Framework Procedure Rules, Contract Procedure Rules, Financial Procedure Rules, and Property Procedure Rules. The purpose of these rules is to set out a framework within which the County Council conducts its business affairs. These rules are applied and monitored by the Corporate Director – Strategic Resources and are designed to ensure that proper financial arrangements are in place and operational at all times across the County Council. They are reviewed by the Audit Committee on an annual basis.
  • Ongoing monitoring of all the above is undertaken by the Monitoring Officer, Section 151 Officer and Head of Internal Audit.
  • Partnership Arrangements – the County Council’s Constitution and Finance Procedure Rules cover the issues to be considered before the County Council becomes involved in a partnership (see paragraph i) below for further detail).
Constitution

h)    Measuring the performance of services and related projects and ensuring that they are delivered in accordance with defined outcomes and that they represent the best use of resources and value for money

  • There is an integrated Service Planning and Budget Process under which each Service in each Directorate sets out its detailed objectives, performance targets, available resources and risk assessment. These feed into both the Council Plan and the Annual Budget/MTFS process
  • The Performance Management framework, continues to be refined with the aim of strengthening links from individual performance management through team plans and service plans to County Council ambitions and priorities.
  • There is quarterly reporting of key performance information to Management Board and a quarterly meeting of the Executive and the Scrutiny Committee Chairs. This information brings together activity levels; financial information; quality issues; customer feedback; improvement areas; workforce; and compliments and complaints. Part of this approach is to ensure that the key components of value for money are considered together and that both senior management and Members can better understand and challenge key services and areas of County Council spending. This is supplemented by more frequent reporting and monitoring processes within Directorates.
  • Improved comprehensive budgeting systems are applied across all Directorates. These systems are regularly reviewed and improved and include greater use of systems by budget managers and stakeholders into a more consolidated service. The Finance function is also regularly reviewed and improved simultaneously.
  • Priority has been given to frontline services in determining the savings programme as part of the Beyond 2020 Change Programme. A planned and prioritised approach has been taken and investments have been made in areas to aid with delivery of the savings and to deliver a modern Council that is fit for purpose.
  • In the past benchmarking statistics have shown an overall level of high performance and value for money for the County Council. Ofsted benchmarking data tends to continue to show the County Council in a positive light and in other areas greater reliance is made on “softer” networking in order to identify areas of best practice across the County. An increased focus on team performance is also providing key management information to assess the productivity of staff and teams and ultimately services with a view to driving improvements in performance. This approach is incorporated into the quarterly monitoring reports provided to the Executive and will help to shape budget thinking on an on-going basis.
  • The Beyond 2020 Change Programme provides a framework within which the County Council continues to plan to meet the challenging savings requirement. The Programme still seeks to ‘simplify; standardise; and share’ and also builds in a number of related themes which set out some of the values, including:-
    • Stronger Communities – empowering and encouraging local communities to develop greater resilience and provide more community owned services
    • Customer– changing the way the County Council interacts with its customers
    • Commercial Focus – examining different ways of delivering services and reviewing opportunities to become more commercial, generating additional net income as exemplified by North Yorkshire Education Services and the commercial companies.
    • Modern Council – creating the right environment to support modern ways of working through use of technology, buildings and working practices and policies.
    • Property Rationalisation – looking to use fewer buildings where staff and customers use the space more efficiently.
    • Organisational Development - developing the workforce and culture to ensure the County Council is fit for purpose in the future.

Management Board acts as the Programme Board and governance arrangements are in place to ensure plans are well developed and implementation is monitored

  • The Asset Management Strategy sets out key corporate processes (e.g. purchasing and disposal of property) including the adoption of a corporate approach to dealing with property needs. A Capital Project Management system (Gateway) is in place to improve the delivery of larger projects. This dovetails with the County Council’s property partners. This Strategy sets out the key role of property in supporting the County Council’s objectives.
  • The County Council’s improvement priorities, as set out in the Council Plan and in its service performance plans and strategies, are reviewed regularly throughout the year. This is achieved through –
    • quarterly reports on key service performance plus corporate issues such as personnel, finance and commendations / complaints are considered by Management Board, the Executive and Chairs of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees
    • regular reports to Corporate Directors and Executive Portfolio Holders
    • publication of an Annual Report on Overview and Scrutiny and statements to every Council meeting by the Scrutiny Committee Chairs

i)    Defining and documenting the roles and responsibilities of Members and management, with clear protocols for effective communication in respect of the authority, its commercial companies and partnership arrangements

  • As explained in paragraph 4(g) above as per the Constitution 
  • All 72 Councillors meet together as the County Council. Meetings are open to the general public. At its annual meeting in May each year the County Council appoints its Chairman. The Leader is elected by the County Council at its annual meeting every four years in the election year, and s/he appoints the Executive Members, and determines their portfolios. The Leader allocates executive functions and maintains the Executive delegation scheme. The full Council is responsible for setting the budget and policy framework of the County Council
  • The Executive is legally responsible for developing and making proposals to the County Council for the budget and the policy framework and taking the decisions to implement them once they are agreed. If the Executive wishes to make a decision that is outside the budget and policy framework, then this must be referred to the Council as a whole to decide. They are also responsible for all other functions not falling within the responsibility of the Council or any other committee. Each Member of the Executive has a portfolio responsibility that relates to a specific area(s) of the County Council’s services and responsibilities. The Executive meets formally at least once a month but will hold informal meetings on a more regular basis as required to progress the business of the County Council
  • The Management Board (which comprises the Chief Executive and all Corporate Directors plus Assistant Chief Executives) is responsible for implementing all County Council policies and decisions at officer level, providing advice to Members, for co-ordinating the use of resources and the work of the Directorates. The ‘Role of Management Board’ is set out formally within the Constitution. Circumstances permitting, the Management Board meets weekly.
  • There are four Overview and Scrutiny Committees that support the work of the County Council and the Executive, together with a Scrutiny of Health Committee. Their roles and responsibilities are detailed in Article 6 of the Constitution.
  • Statutory Officers / Codes and Protocol  the County Council employs officers to give advice, implement decisions and manage the day-to-day delivery of its services. Certain officers have a designated duty to ensure that the County Council acts within the law and uses its resources wisely. A Protocol on Member / Officer relations, is part of the Constitution and, amongst other documents, governs the relationships between Officers and Members of the Council.
  • Pursuant to its powers under Section 101 of the Local Government Act 1972 the County Council arranges for certain of its functions (non-executive functions) to be discharged by officers of the Council, these are included in the Officers Delegation Scheme
  • Commercial Companies – the County Council has a number of companies which it uses to deliver specific services/functions. Along with the in-house traded services to schools, these companies are grouped together to form the ‘Brierley Group’. An Executive Shareholder Committee has been created to oversee the governance of the commercial companies and a number of delegations have been made to the Chief Executive for operational activities.
  • Partnership Arrangements - the County Council’s Constitution and Financial Procedure Rules contain a number of important steps to be considered before the County Council enters into a partnership, including the need for approval by the Executive or under the terms of the Delegation Schemes, of appropriate written governance arrangements and interaction with the County Council’s decision making arrangements commensurate with the role of the partnership, the part played in it by the County Council, and the risks attached to that involvement. Detailed guidance is provided to Members and Officers who represent the County Council on external bodies. An annual report is made to the Audit Committee on the governance arrangements and work of partnerships. The Executive receives an ‘issues’ report when the Audit Committee determines there is a matter of concern relating to a partnership
Constitution

j)    Ensuring that financial management arrangements conform to the governance requirements of the CIPFA Statement on the Role of the Chief Financial Officer in Local Government (2015) and, where they do not, explain why and how they deliver the same impact

  • The statutory duties of the Corporate Director – Strategic Resources in relation to financial management derive from five principal sources:
    • Section 151 of the Local Government Act 1972
    • Section 114 of the Local Government Financial Act 1988
    • Local Government Act 2000 (particular decisions contrary to policy or budget)
    • Local Government Act 2003 (prudential limits for borrowing and investment)
    • Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015
  • The Corporate Director – Strategic Resources (CD-SR) drafts a Medium Term Financial Strategy and presents it (at least) annually to the Executive and the Council; linked to this Strategy are the detailed Revenue Budget, Savings Plan, Capital Plan, Treasury Management arrangements and Prudential Indicators
  • The CD-SR is responsible for determining the accounting procedures, the form of financial records and statements and for maintaining the financial accounts of the County Council. The CD-SR also ensures that proper accounting arrangements are established in all Directorates. Individual Corporate Directors are responsible for the satisfactory operation of financial and accounting systems, and associated controls, within their Directorates – this responsibility is defined in the Financial Procedure Rules. 
  • To support this process, there is an Assistant Director (qualified as an Accountant) allocated to each Directorate with specific responsibility for financial matters. The Assistant Director sits on the Management Team of the Service Directorate and Strategic Resources.
  • It is the duty of all Service Managers within Directorates to plan and manage their budgets to meet the agreed bottom line budget figure for their Service Unit. This includes ensuring that adequate arrangements exist for monitoring revenue and capital budgets throughout the year, and taking action to adjust the budget to ensure that overall control of expenditure is maintained. The CD-SR is responsible for submitting a quarterly report to Executive on the overall Revenue Budget / Capital Plan position; this report is part of the Quarterly Performance and Improvement reporting arrangements
  • The CD-SR prepares and publishes an annual Statement of Final Accounts that conforms to all statutory and professional requirements, codes of practice and timetables
  • The County Council’s appointed external auditor is Deloitte. They will publish an Annual Audit Letter on the completion of their audit that follows the end of each financial year
  • Under the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015, the County Council has a legal responsibility to provide an adequate and effective internal audit of its records and control systems. The Council has delegated this responsibility to the CD-SR who provides the service through Veritau (Veritau provides internal audit and a range of related services to both the City of York Council and the County Council. Both authorities jointly own the company. For governance purposes, Veritau reports to the Audit Committee in the same way as an in-house function). The Head of Internal Audit is the CEO of Veritau.
  • Using a risk assessment methodology, the Head of Internal Audit produces an Annual Audit Plan for approval by the Audit Committee; progress against this Plan is also reported quarterly to the CD-SR and to the Audit Committee. In addition to carrying out the work specified in the Annual Audit Plan, Veritau also provides –
    • advice and assistance to service managers in the design and implementation of internal controls
    • support to managers in the prevention and detection of fraud, corruption and other irregularities
    • advice and guidance on information governance related matters.
  • The Head of Internal Audit provides an audit opinion, based on the level of assurance gained by the work carried out, for each audit undertaken. The results of audit work in each Directorate are reported to the Audit Committee in accordance with an agreed programme.
  • The Head of Internal Audit also submits an Annual Report to the Audit Committee that includes his overall opinion on the adequacy and effectiveness of the framework of governance, risk management and control operating in the County Council as a whole.

k)    Ensuring effective arrangements are in place for the discharge of the monitoring officer function. 

  • The County Council has appointed the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Democratic Services) as Monitoring Officer. The role and duties of the Monitoring Officer are contained in the Council’s Constitution and appropriate resources are made available for him/her to undertake the role. The Monitoring Officer is a member of the County Council’s Management Board, and has sight of all Committee and Executive reports before they are presented to Members.

l)    Ensuring effective arrangements are in place for the discharge of the Head of Paid Service function

  • The County Council has appointed the Chief Executive as Head of Paid Service. The role and duties of the Head of Paid Service are contained in the Council’s Constitution, and the Chief Executive leads the County Council’s Management Team and appropriate resources are made available for him/her to undertake the role.

m)    Providing induction and identifying the development needs of Members and senior officers in relation to their strategic roles, supported by appropriate training

  • Developing the skills of Members continues to be targeted through a Member Development Programme, a dedicated online learning site and a suite of resources and training events. There is also a specific induction programme for any newly elected Member(s) and comprehensive induction following the election. There are also regular Member seminars throughout the year on a whole series of areas in order to keep Members abreast of current issues and to ensure awareness of responsibilities for both County Council and individual Members.

n)    Reviewing the effectiveness of the framework for identifying and managing risks and for performance and demonstrating clear accountability

  • The County Council’s comprehensive and well established approach to risk management is laid out in the Corporate Risk Management Policy and its associated Strategy. The Policy was reviewed in March 2019. Risk Registers are developed and maintained at Corporate, Directorate and Service Unit levels. The generic risk assessment methodology is also applied to specific key projects or areas of policy development. The risk prioritisation process is designed to identify key risks that are a threat to the achievement of objectives, evaluate risk controls and ensure risk reduction actions are embedded within Service Performance Plans.
  • Internal Audit (Veritau) review the effectiveness of the framework for identifying and managing risks on a regular basis. Any weaknesses identified are addressed and progress to rectify those weaknesses is monitored by the Corporate Risk Management Group as well as Internal Audit.
  • An annual progress report on risk management is made to the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee’s role is to assess the effectiveness of the authority’s risk management arrangements and to review progress on the implementation of risk management throughout the authority.
  • Corporate Directors provide an update on the progress of mitigating risks identified in their risk registers to Audit Committee once a year.
  • Clear accountability is shown in both the Corporate Risk Management Policy and Strategy and as part of the risk register process.
  • The Performance Management framework has been further refined in order to strengthen the links between individuals, teams and services. Benchmarking and best practice from other Authorities is an inherent part of the planning process to ensure that each plan can look for further improvements. The service planning process also involves identification of savings as an initial part of the generation of savings proposals for the Budget / MTFS.
  • There is quarterly reporting of key performance information to Management Board and a quarterly meeting of the Executive and the Scrutiny Committee Chairs. This information brings together activity levels; financial information; quality issues; customer feedback; improvement areas; workforce; and compliments and complaints. Part of this approach is to ensure that the key components of value for money are considered together and that both senior management and Members can better understand and challenge key services and areas of Council spending. This is supplemented by more frequent reporting and monitoring processes within Directorates.

o)    Ensuring effective counter fraud and anti-corruption arrangements are developed and maintained in accordance with the Code of Practice on Managing the Risk of Fraud and Corruption (CIPFA, 2014). 

  • The County Council has approved and implemented a formal Counter Fraud Strategy which is reviewed annually by the Audit Committee. The Strategy is designed to minimise the risk of fraud and corruption by adopting and maintaining measures which prevent fraud occurring, that ensure instances of fraud which do occur are detected promptly and enable robust action to be taken against any perpetrators.
  • The risks of fraud and corruption are kept under constant review. A formal Fraud and Loss Risk Assessment is also completed each year by Veritau and the results are report to the Audit Committee. Preventative measures are taken to address any new or emerging risks.
  • Where instances of fraud are detected, Veritau will work closely with management and other agencies to ensure that the allegations are fully investigated, the extent of any losses is quantified, evidence is properly collected for further action (including possible criminal or disciplinary action), losses are recovered where possible and appropriate measures are taken to prevent any further occurrences

p)    Ensuring an effective Scrutiny function is in place

  • The Constitution sets out how the County Council operates, how decisions are made and by whom, and the procedures that are followed to ensure that these are efficient, transparent and accountable to local people.
  • The Executive is legally responsible for developing and making proposals to the Council for the budget and the policy framework and taking the decisions to implement them once they are agreed. If the Executive wishes to make a decision that is outside the budget and policy framework, then this must be referred to the Council as a whole to decide. They are also responsible for all other functions not falling within the responsibility of the Council or any other committee. Each Member of the Executive has a portfolio responsibility that relates to a specific area(s) of the County Council’s services and responsibilities. The Executive meets formally at least once a month but will hold informal meetings on a more regular basis as required to progress the business of the County Council.
  • There are four Overview and Scrutiny Committees that support the work of the Council and the Executive, together with a Scrutiny of Health Committee. Their roles and responsibilities are detailed in Article 6 of the Constitution and the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules. These Committees are supported by a small team of officers including a Statutory Scrutiny Officer (the Democratic Services and Scrutiny Manager).

q)    Ensuring that assurance arrangements conform to the governance requirements of the CIPFA Statement on the Role of the Head of Internal Audit (2019) and, where they do not, explain why and how they deliver the same impact

  • The Head of Internal Audit is responsible for reviewing and reporting on the adequacy and effectiveness of the County Council’s governance, risk management and control framework. The objective is to provide independent and objective assurance to management and those charged with governance, including the Corporate Director – Strategic Resources and the Audit Committee. Where weaknesses in control are identified then Internal Audit will support management to make the necessary improvements. The Financial Procedure Rules provide the framework for internal audit activities within the County Council, and define the respective roles and responsibilities of management and the Head of Internal Audit as well as confirming Internal Audit’s rights of access to premises, information, records and other documentation. The specific objectives, scope and approach to Internal Audit are set out in the Audit Charter which is reviewed annually and subject to approval by the Audit Committee.
  • The CIPFA Statement on the Role of the Head of Internal Audit contains five principles which set out the governance arrangements necessary to ensure that the Head of Internal Audit is able to operate effectively and perform his/her core duties. The County Council’s arrangements for internal audit are assessed against the five principles on an annual basis.

r)    Undertaking the core functions of an audit committee, as identified in Audit Committees: Practical Guidance for Local Authorities (CIPFA, 2018)

  • A separate Audit Committee, which includes external independent Members, has been in operation since April 2006. (see section 5 below for activities during 2019/20). A key role of the Audit Committee is to act as the responsible body charged with ensuring that a sound system of governance and internal control operates throughout the County Council. In doing so, it provides independent assurance to the Council on the adequacy of the risk management framework and the associated control environment and independent scrutiny of the County Council’s financial and non-financial performance to the extent that it affects the Council’s exposure to risk and weakens the control environment. It also oversees the Procedure Rules that relate to Contracts, Finance and Property matters as well as Information Governance and Counter Fraud arrangements. It is also responsible for scrutinising the Treasury Management policies and activities of the County Council and for ensuring that arrangements exist to secure value for money. The appointment of external independent Members helps to bring additional knowledge and expertise to the working of the Audit Committee.

s)    Ensuring that the County Council provides timely support, information and responses to External Auditors and properly considers audit findings and recommendations

  • The County Council’s appointed External Auditor is Deloitte. The External Auditor attends Audit Committee meetings.
  • Each year the External Auditor provides an External Audit Plan which sets out their key objectives for the year which can include a review and report on Financial Statements including the Annual Governance Statement; providing an opinion on the Financial Statements and also the arrangements to secure value for money.
  • the External Auditor publishes an External Audit Report on the completion of their audit.
  • Throughout the year the County Council’s Members and Officers work with the External Auditor to address any concerns and risks highlighted by the external auditor.
  • Findings and recommendations made by the External Auditor receive an appropriate management response setting out how the County Council will address such recommendations and areas of concern.

t)    Incorporating good governance arrangements in respect of partnerships and other joint working and ensuring that they are reflected across the County Council’s overall governance structures

  • The County Council’s Constitution and Financial Procedure Rules contain a number of issues to be considered before the County Council becomes involved in a partnership, including the need for approval by the Executive or under the terms of the Delegation Schemes, of appropriate written governance arrangements and interaction with the County Council’s decision making arrangements commensurate with the role of the partnership, the part played in it by the County Council, and the risks attached to that involvement. An annual report is made to the Audit Committee on the governance arrangements and work of partnerships.
  • Where the County Council is a substantial equity holder in a company (NYnet, Veritau, Yorwaste, SJB Recycling, Align Property Partners, Brierley Homes, First North Law) it ensures appropriate governance arrangements are in place both within the company and as between the company and the County Council. These will be based on the Local Code but also take into account the operational circumstances of the company.

5.0    Activities of the audit committee

5.1    During 2019/20 and up to the date this AGS was signed, the Audit Committee had met 5 times. During this period it had:-

  • approved the Internal Audit Plan for 2020/21.
  • considered the County Council’s overall counter fraud arrangements together with the outcome of the annual Fraud and Loss risk assessment. The Committee also reviewed the work of Veritau in respect of the management of fraud risks including the results of investigations into matters reported via the County Council’s whistleblowing facilities or directly by management.
  • assessed the performance of the County Council’s internal audit provider, Veritau. The Committee also considered the outcome of the internal audit quality assurance and improvement programme (QAIP). The Committee was pleased that internal audit practices continue to meet the required professional standards and therefore continued reliance could be placed on the results of internal audit work. 
  • considered changes to an updated Corporate Risk Management Policy and continued to assess the adequacy and effectiveness of each Directorate’s risk management arrangements through consideration of the risks and mitigating actions identified in each Directorate Risk Register.
  • considered the annual report on partnership governance. The report included details of the County Council’s current partnerships, changes which had occurred in the year and the arrangements in place to monitor the management and performance of key partnerships. The report included details of 60 partnerships. The reporting process helps to ensure that the governance arrangements of all high and medium risk partnerships are monitored on a regular basis.
  • ensured that the ongoing work in relation to improvement issues on Corporate Governance, Information Governance (and in particular compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act), Business Continuity and Risk Management, was progressing 
  • considered the external audit plan prepared by Deloitte for the audit of the 2019/20 financial statements and the review of the County Council’s arrangements for securing value for money; 
  • considered the arrangements made by the County Council for securing value for money
  • reviewed the progress made to implement the Procurement and Contract Management Strategy, and the Strategy Action Plan.
  • continued to scrutinise the Treasury Management arrangements of the County Council
  • considered the Annual Report of the Head of Internal Audit expressing his opinion on the framework of governance, risk management and controls operating within the County Council. This report also considered the progress made by management during the year to address identified control weaknesses. The Head of Internal Audit also drew the Committee’s attention to specific areas which require further improvement.
  • considered and approved the Statement of Accounts including the Annual Governance Statement of the County Council and the North Yorkshire Pension Fund submitted by the Corporate Director – Strategic Resources following detailed work by a sub group of the Committee.
  • received details of the revised Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting 2019/20. The updated Code resulted in certain changes to the classification and measurement of financial assets and the treatment of revenue from contracts. There was no impact as a result of these changes on the Statement of Accounts. 
  • received briefings on a number of topics including the Council’s Treasury Management and Commercial Investment activities, the Property Rationalisation programme and the systems to monitor suppliers’ financial health in ‘real time’
  • reviewed its Terms of Reference
  • reviewed arrangements for Corporate Governance within the County Council including approval of changes to the County Council’s Local Code of Corporate Governance
  • received training on relevant topics

5.2    All this work has been used in supporting the preparation of the County Council’s (ie this) Annual Governance Statement for 2019/20.

6.0    Review of effectiveness

6.1    The County Council has responsibility for formally conducting, at least annually, a review of the effectiveness of its governance framework including the system of internal control. The review relates to the Governance Framework which has been in place at the County Council for the year ended 31 March 2020 and up to the date of approval of the Statement of Accounts. Any issues identified as a significant governance issue are reported within this AGS, and the progress made by management in 2020/21 to address these issues will be reported regularly to the Audit Committee as the body charged with governance.

6.2    The review of effectiveness of governance and internal control systems is informed by the work of the Executive, the senior managers within the County Council who have responsibility for the development and maintenance of the governance environment; by the Internal Audit function (as carried out by Veritau) and the Insurance and Risk Management Service; comments made by External Auditors and other review agencies and inspectorates. The Corporate Governance Officers Group is responsible for co-ordinating the review. 

    Delivery/Operational Area of Assurance

6.3    Management Board and all of the Corporate Directors have reviewed their service areas in relation to the governance and internal control procedures and confirm that the functions they are responsible for comply and conform to the Governance Framework. Significant governance issues are provided in section 7.

6.4    In addition the County Council has identified a suite of key performance indicators to help assess the effectiveness of its arrangements. These are reported quarterly to the Executive, and include the outcome of external inspections (see below in paragraph 6.6 for further details).

    Oversight of Management Activity

6.5    A range of reports are produced annually or throughout the year from those responsible for the oversight of management activity which provide assurance on the operation of elements of the governance framework, including those listed below:

  • The latest published version of the Constitution, and on the County Council website (see link above)
  • Annual Report of the Standards Committee – The Standards Committee consider and approve the annual report on the work undertaken by the Committee which includes a review of ethical framework developments, Members attendance at Committees, dispensations and complaints. There are 2 independent persons on the Committee who provide independent assurance in respect of ethical behaviour and conduct. No significant ethical failings were found and the report was approved at Full Council. 
  • Counter Fraud annual report (including fraud and loss risk assessment) - the Audit Committee received and considered the annual report prepared by Veritau and the actions being taken to mitigate possible fraud risks. No significant frauds or losses occurred during the period. 
  • Internal audit - the 2019/20 Head of Internal Audit Report and Opinion - provided “substantial” assurance in relation to the County Council’s framework of governance, risk management and control. Information security was identified as an area requiring improvement. (see Section 7 for further detail)
  • Annual Report of the Audit Committee for the year ended 30 September 2019 – this is based on details of the work carried out by the Audit Committee and details of how the Audit Committee has fulfilled its Terms of Reference. See paragraph 5 above for further details of the activities of the Audit Committee.
  • Treasury Management and Investment Strategy Report- regular reports are provided to the Audit Committee throughout the year, with an Annual report to be reported to Full Council. This shows compliance with investment policy and strategy.
  • Annual Information Governance Report - the Audit Committee is provided with an annual update on developments in the County Council’s information governance arrangements and compliance with relevant legislation. Progress has been made in developing the County Council’s information governance arrangements during the year. However information governance has been identified as a high risk area on the corporate risk register. This is in part due to the consequences should the County Council suffer a serious data breach. See also Section 7 for further details.
  • Annual Partnership Governance Report – the Audit Committee is provided with an annual update on partnerships and noted that in 2019/20 none of the partnerships were identified as being high risk and there had been no governance failures in the year.
  • Risk Management – the Audit Committee is provided with an annual update on the risk management process, and regular audits on the risk management strategy and process are also carried out. The overall conclusion is that the arrangements for managing risk were very good, an effective control environment appears to be in operation, and the overall opinion of the controls within the system at the time of the audit was that they provided High Assurance.
  • Self-assessment against the “Role of Chief Financial Officer” – confirmed conformance in all material respects.
  • Local Safeguarding Children’s Board Annual Report - the latest annual report detailed good progress in areas such as Learning and Improvement, Partnership and Networking and listening to the views of children and young people within North Yorkshire.
  • Local Safeguarding Adults Board Annual Report - the latest annual report noted production of a One Minute Guide to the NYSAB that has been shared with partners and organisations, Mental Capacity Assessment Engagement and a decrease in the number safeguarding concerns received from the previous year.
  • Assurance is provided by the Monitoring Officer in relation to legality issues and a section 5 report is issued in circumstances where the County Council is not operating lawfully. No section 5 notices were issued during this period.
  • Procurement and Contract Management - the Audit Committee is provided with an annual report on procurement and contract management activities.
  • Attendance Management Annual Report – this report advised that in the first 3 quarters of 2019/20 sickness absence was around 8 days per FTE, and this continues to compare favourably with other public sector benchmarking data with the most recent Local Government Association workforce survey reporting an average 8.8 days lost per FTE across Local Government and private sector employers with over 5,000 staff averaging around 9 days lost. There is also work being done to support staff to be resilient and providing support with mental health issues, much of which is in response to life challenges and events.

    Independent Oversight

6.6    Independent oversight includes the following:

  • External audit

External Audit have indicated that they anticipate providing an unmodified opinion on the Statement of Accounts and Value for Money Arrangements to the Audit Committee in October 2020.

  • Ofsted outcomes for Primary and Secondary Schools - 81.8% of Primary School pupils and 79.9% of Secondary School pupils attend a school judged as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, compared to 81.7% of primary school pupils and 72.0% of Secondary School pupils across the Yorkshire and Humber region. And the comparison with England is 87.7% of primary school pupils and 79.2% Secondary School pupils.
  • CQC - Access to good Public Health Services and Social Care - CQC inspection data published in October 2019 showed that the quality of provision across North Yorkshire remains slightly above than the national averages and well above the regional averages for both residential and nursing placement providers and for domiciliary care providers. As part of its work to drive up the quality of provision, the County Council created a Quality Improvement Team that is working successfully with local providers to improve their inspection ratings and to prevent provider failure. The team also works with Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Independent Care Group.
  • Health and Adult Services - North Yorkshire has achieved the government’s challenging target for reducing delayed transfers of care (DTOCs) attributable to social care in each of the last four quarters. The August 2019 data showed the rate of social care delayed bed days at 2.7 per 100,000 of population against a target of 2.9.
  • Ofsted - Adult Learning and Skills Service - NYCC has continued to improve the Adult Learning and Skills Service provided by the County Council and this work has been recognised by Ofsted who gave the service an overall rating of “good” during an inspection in June 2019.

•    National Highways and Transportation surveys
The results of the 2017 and 2018 National Highways and Transportation surveys were published in August/September 2019. They show a significant improvement in public satisfaction from 2017 to 2018 in almost all areas of the service in North Yorkshire, including: • Satisfaction with the winter service improved even against a backdrop of overall fall for other Shire councils • Improvement in the satisfaction with road safety • Although all councils experienced a significant drop in satisfaction with condition of highways and highway maintenance, the decrease was less in North Yorkshire despite the fact that the 2018 survey came after the poor weather in spring which was starting to have an effect on road conditions.
•    Information Security Management System 
The County Council operates an Information Security Management System which is certified to the requirements of ISO/IEC 27001 (Information Security). The System was audited by the BSI (British Standards Institute) and re-certification to the ISO 27001:2013 standard was achieved in January 2020, with the next re-certification due in December 2022. 
•    Ombudsman Investigations
In 2019/20 there were 44 Ombudsman investigations received.  47 decisions were made (some cases go across financial years), 17 of which were upheld.

7.0    Significant governance and business challenges 

7.1    The governance and internal control arrangements can provide only reasonable and not absolute assurance that assets are safeguarded, that transactions are authorised and properly recorded, that material errors or irregularities are either prevented or would be detected within a timely period and that significant risks impacting on the achievement of the County Council’s objectives have been mitigated. It also needs to be recognised that the current external challenges to local government and the wider public sector are such that there are an unparalleled number of business risks and challenges; an effective governance framework therefore helps but cannot by itself eliminate such issues.

7.2    On the basis of the review work carried out it was considered that the majority of the governance and internal control arrangements continue to be fit for purpose and the overall governance framework was effective during the financial year 2019/20. There were, however, some areas identified which require attention either as a result of weaknesses or as a result of external challenges. The most significant of these areas (ie business challenges and Coronavirus recovery) are set out below in a spirit of ensuring continuous improvement of governance; internal control arrangements; and service delivery.

7.3    At the time of writing the items included in the table below represent the list of key issues requiring attention in 2020/21.

Significant Governance and Business Challenges requiring attention in 2020/21

Challenge

A1

Information Governance
The Council continues to need to ensure that information is properly managed. Information should be managed effectively and used to its full potential whilst ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the information. However, there continues to be inherent risks with how information is handled and kept secure (responsible officer: Senior Information Risk Owner)

Actions

a) Data quality process to be introduced and put into action in CYPS as part of the Single View of a Child Programme of work. To start in January 2021. This will look at how data is captured and stored to ensure that it is correct at point of entry.
b) Introduction of Information Security Marking to improve the handling of information internally and externally to reduce the likelihood of data breach. This will be part of the roll-out of Microsoft 365 from September 2020.
c) Review of Document and Record retention to introduce a workable retention policy regime within the Microsoft 365 environment, as part of Microsoft 365 project, for January 2021 roll-out.
d) Review of Information Sharing Agreements created during the response to Covid-19 to feed into review of Information Sharing policy in consultation with the Data Protection Officer as and when necessary.
e) Ensure that Information Governance Framework policies are reviewed on an annual basis.
f) Continue to be certified to ISO 27001 standards for Information Security, annual review to be completed in November 2020.
g) Roll-out new training on Information Security to improve awareness of all staff on identifying potential threats and working securely wherever they are working. Roll-out from September 2020.
h) Consider and implement improvements identified within DPO audits and reviews.
i) Data Protection Officer and Data Governance Team to improve the quality of the Directorate Information Governance Groups (DIGGs) to increase the self-sufficiency of the directorates with regards to data protection, improve the dissemination of information and increase oversight of data protection matters (by 31 March 2021).
j) Data Protection Officer to review the way incidents are handled and categorised to improve consistency and allow the service areas to increase their understanding of where information risks arise (by 31 March 2021).
k) Data Protection Officer to deliver Data Protection Impact Assessment training to relevant individuals in the organisation and to disseminate the new template and guidance, introducing the new Data Protection Impact Assessment process for Data Protection Officer involvement (by 31 March 2021).

Challenge

A2 Coronavirus 
The County Council has been at the forefront of responding to Covid-19 in North Yorkshire. This includes delivering the public health function; working with health to arrange discharge for Covid patients; supporting care homes; leading on outbreak management; supporting schools; supporting vulnerable people and people who are self-isolating in communities; promoting local businesses; and playing a leadership role with the Local Resilience Forum. In addition to responding to the pandemic there is a need to plan and deliver as part of the recovery whilst being able to increase the ability to respond as cases of Covid increase in subsequent waves (responsible officers: Management Board)
 

Actions

a) Development of a Local Resilience Forum Strategic Framework for Recovery by July 2020 and Economic Recovery Plan by October 2020.
b) Implementation of an Outbreak Management Plan to prevent, identify and manage Covid-19 outbreaks throughout the county including communities, care homes, schools and businesses.
c) Supporting the Local Resilience Forum in its role of overall responsibility for the multi-agency management and response to the Covid-19 outbreak across North Yorkshire and the City of York.
d) Deployment of resources to support key areas of priority on an as and when basis.

Conclusion

8.1    The County Council has in place strong governance arrangements which we are confident protect its interests and provide necessary assurances to our citizens and stakeholders. However, the County Council has a duty to seek continuous improvement and will take steps in 2020/21 to further enhance governance arrangements.

8.2    Issues that require attention have, however, been identified and these are set out in Section 7 above together with details of how they will be addressed during 2020/21. Reports on progress will be submitted to the Audit Committee.

8.3    The governance arrangements that are in place already provide for scenarios such as Coronavirus, and have stood up to the test with decision making arrangements proving to be robust. There is now a will for the decision making arrangements that changed during the immediate crisis to revert back to previous arrangements. 

9.0    Signatures

9.1    We, the undersigned, accept primary responsibility for the content of this Annual Governance Statement and will over the coming year, take steps to address the matters identified in Section 7 of this Statement to further enhance the governance arrangements of the County Council. We are satisfied that these steps will address the need for improvements that were identified in the significant governance and business challenges and will monitor their implementation and operation as part of the next annual review.

Signed:

Cllr Carl Les
Leader of the County Council

Richard Flinton
Chief Executive

Date:

9.2        I confirm that the Audit Committee (meeting on the 26 October 2020) was satisfied, on the basis of the information available to it, that this Annual Governance Statement for 2019/20 has been prepared and approved after due and careful enquiry.
    

Cllr Clifford Lunn
Chairman of the Audit Committee;

Date: