Agenda item

Annual Governance Statement 2021/22

Report of the Chief Operating Officer (Section 151 Officer)


The Audit and Procurement Committee considered a report of the Chief Operating Officer (Section 151 Officer), which provided details of the results of the annual review of effectiveness of the Council’s governance arrangements and sought approval of the Annual Governance Statement, which formed part of the Statement of Accounts for 2021-22.


Coventry City Council was responsible for ensuring that its business was conducted in accordance with the law and proper standards, and that public money was safeguarded and properly accounted for, and used economically, efficiently and effectively. In discharging this responsibility, the City Council was responsible for putting in place proper arrangements for the governance of its affairs and facilitating the effective exercise of its functions, including arrangements for the management of risk.


To demonstrate such arrangements, the City Council had adopted a Code of Corporate Governance, which was consistent with the principles reflected in the CIPFA / SOLACE framework and guidance ‘Delivering Good Governance in Local Government’ (2016).


The Annual Governance Statement (‘AGS’) explained how Coventry City Council had complied with the Code and in doing so, reflected the requirements of the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 and the Accounts and Audit (Amendment) Regulations 2022, which required all relevant bodies to conduct a review of the effectiveness of its system of governance and prepare an Annual Governance Statement. The AGS also detailed key governance / control issues that the Council faced in the coming year.


The AGS would normally be presented to the Audit and Procurement Committee in June / July each year to meet the deadline for publication specified in the Accounts and Audit Regulations.  However, as there were delays in the completion of the audit of the 2019-20 accounts (due to technical and balance sheet valuation issues), the draft accounts for 2021-22 had not yet been published. The Council had worked closely with its auditors, Grant Thornton to resolve the outstanding matters and it was anticipated that a decision would be reached on these in the imminent future.  Whilst there was a delay in the finalisation of the 2019-20 accounts, it was felt appropriate to present the AGS for 2021-22 at this time to facilitate the AGS annual review for 2022-23.


Whilst processes were in place to assess key elements of the governance framework through-out the year, for example through the work of Internal Audit, the Corporate Governance Steering Board and the Council’s Audit and Procurement Committee, an annual review was also undertaken as part of the production of the AGS for the year.  The purpose of the review was to provide assurance that arrangements continue to be fit for purpose and identify key governance issues for the forthcoming year. This annual review incorporated a number of processes with the outcomes reviewed and agreed by the Corporate Governance Steering Board and Strategic Leadership Team. 


Based on the outcomes of the review, the overall opinion that had been reached was that reasonable assurance could be provided that the Council’s governance arrangements continued to be regarded as fit for purpose in accordance with the governance framework.  The basis of this opinion, including the key findings from the review were set out in the report.


The AGS also detailed the key governance issues that the Council faced in the coming year. Section 5.3 of the Statement, attached at Appendix 1 to the report, provided details of these areas.  Whilst the process of identifying the issues was co-ordinated by the Chief Internal Auditor, it incorporated the views and opinions of senior officers, the Council’s Governance Steering Board and Strategic Leadership Team.


An update on the progress against planned actions in relation to the issues raised in the 2020-21 AGS was provided in section 5.1 of the Statement attached at Appendix 1.  A review of the 19 issues highlighted in the AGS for 2020-21 has found that these fall into two categories, namely issues which had now been addressed, and carry forward to the 2022-23 Action Plan.


In considering the report, the Committee discussed matters in relation to the Coventry Municipal Holdings Limited (CMH), particularly ensuring robust governance over group activities and investments, and requested that the group account for CMH be submitted to their next meeting.


RESOLVED that, the Audit and Procurement Committee:


1.  Considered the finding of the review of effectiveness of the Council’ governance arrangements and confirm its satisfaction with the level of assurance provided that arrangements are fit for purpose.


2.  Considered and approved the Annual Governance Statement attached at Appendix 1 of the report, which will accompany the 2021-22 Statement of accounts.


3.  Request that the group accounts for Coventry Municipal Holdings Limited be submitted to their next meeting.

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