Council to keep closer eye on risks to its services

County hall managers will be more closely monitored under new audit plan.
County hall managers will be more closely monitored under new audit plan.
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Lancashire County Council will be “holding managers’ feet to the fire” to ensure the authority is not exposed to unnecessary risks.

Interim Chief Executive Angie Ridgwell told a meeting at county hall that new measures to monitor risk were not being introduced because of any specific concerns, but as “good practice”.

“I’ve worked in lots of other councils where audit recommendations...get forgotten about and are not implemented,” Ms Ridgwell told the council’s Audit, Risk and Governance Committee.

Managers are held to account for acting on plans which they have agreed with the council’s in-house auditors - but will now also be judged on how many suggestions they have been willing to implement in the first place.

“If audit recommendations aren’t agreed [by managers], the matter will be escalated, so that we can be clear about the level of risk the council is taking and whether we believe that to be acceptable, “ Ms. Ridgwell added.

Ruth Lowry, Head of Internal Audit at county hall, said: “In these slightly straightened times, people are finding it a challenge to do all they thought that they could quite easily do.”

Figures presented to the committee reveal that the council’s internal auditors can currently offer only “limited assurance” on almost a quarter of the areas which they monitor. That means there are weaknesses which have the potential to affect the outcomes of a service.

But the report concluded that the work of the internal audit team over the last year had been “very positive”.

Meanwhile, members were updated on moves to ensure that staff who had left the council were not still being paid.

READ MORE >>> Council still paying staff after they have left
It emerged back in May that almost half a million pounds had been handed out in wages to former staff in the space of three years.

Neil Kissock, county hall’s Head of Finance, said the council was “continuing [its] improvement”, but was not “yet perfect in terms of eliminating all overpayments.”