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Agenda and minutes

Venue: To be held as an online video conference. To access the meeting, click on the 'View the Webcast' link below

Contact: Sarah Cottam, Democratic Services  Email: sarah.cottam@sheffield.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.1

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards.

 

 

 

2.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

To identify items where resolutions may be moved to exclude the press and public.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

2.1

No items were identified where resolutions may be moved to exclude the press and public.

 

 

 

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Members to declare any interests they have in the business to be considered at the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

3.1

There were no declarations of interest made.

 

 

 

4.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 151 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 18th February 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

4.1

The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 18th February 2021 were approved as a correct record, subject to amendment of a typographical error in persons present at that meeting.

 

 

 

5.

Progress Report of the External Auditors

Verbal report of the  External Auditors Ernst and Young.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1

Janet Dawson and Hayley Clark from Ernst and Young were in attendance to update the committee.

 

 

5.2

It was reported that good progress was being made with the Council’s finance team and were supplying regular updates.  The audit was on track for sign off in April, however Easter break would add issues to the timings.  The external auditors advised that they were currently working on another progress report for the next meeting.

 

 

5.3

The Committee were advised that discussions was been held regarding the date of the next meeting and it had been suggested that it be moved on a week, due to key officer availability and to allow more time for the report to be finalised.

 

 

5.4

The Chair advised that discussions were still ongoing regarding the date of the next meeting.

 

 

5.5

Hayley Clarke advised that she would supply the most updated position of the external audit at the next meeting.

 

 

5.6

RESOLVED: - That the report be noted.

 

 

 

6.

Universal Credit Update pdf icon PDF 152 KB

Report of the Director of Finance and Commercial Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1

Tim Hardie (Head of Commercial Business Development) attended the meeting alongside Cat Arnold (Policy and Improvement Officer) and Rachel Dawson (Operations and Development Manager, Income Management and Financial Inclusion Team) to provide an update on Universal Credit (UC) and answer any questions the committee had.

 

 

6.2

An update on UC was last brought to the committee in January 2020 which concentrated on UC impact upon residents. 

 

 

6.3

Tim Hardie advised that DWP started the roll out of full-service UC in Sheffield in November 2018.  Over the last year the Covid-19 pandemic had seen the number of claimants for UC increase substantially.  However, it also meant that the impacts of UC were now difficult to distinguish from the wider impacts of the crisis.

 

 

6.4

As of February 2021, 49,420 people in Sheffield were claiming UC, the impacts of lockdown had led to a significant increase in the number of people claiming.  This was roughly double the number of claimants at the beginning of the pandemic and contrasted with the last figures reported to the Committee of 16,604 people at the end of September 2019.  There was a cohort of new people claiming due to job losses.

 

 

6.5

Cat Arnold outlined what had been done in Sheffield to support claimants of UC and a lot of focus was around helping people pay their rent.

 

 

6.6

A Universal Credit Partnership was set up in May 2018 to coordinate the city’s activity on UC, bringing together key representatives from Sheffield City Council, DWP and voluntary services, the community and faith organisations to share knowledge and create links between different strands of activity around UC. The Council had been working closely with the Citizens Advice Sheffield, who provided a Help to Claim Service, funded nationally by DWP.

 

 

6.7

As outlined in the report, figures for rent arrears for UC claimants continued to be an issue, however considering the numbers currently claiming UC, and the impact of Covid-19 was having on people; performance on arrears was still positive.

 

 

6.8

The impact of UC on citizens was now very difficult to unpick from the wider impacts of the pandemic and this had been set out in a Rapid Health Impact Assessment commissioned by the Sheffield Health and Wellbeing Board.  This was published in September 2020.

 

 

6.9

There was an uncertainty about the number of UC claims likely to be made over the coming months.  The furlough scheme had been extended until September 2021, as had the extra £20 per week top up for UC claimant.  It was advised that this was positive news for both employees and UC claimants.  However, other government support for free school meals over the summer holidays and Defra funding would come to end in March 2021.  There was always a possibility that furlough would be phased out, more people losing their jobs and therefore the need to apply for UC.  As part of supporting these people, the Council had developed some resources to help people facing redundancy, further information was on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Members Code of Conduct and Training pdf icon PDF 161 KB

Report of the Director of Legal and Governance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1

Gillian Duckworth, the Council’s Monitoring Officer, presented a report to provide members with the updated Members' Code of Conduct following agreement that the council would adopt the Model Code of Conduct incorporating elements of the current code of conduct.

 

 

7.2

The report also outlined the code of conduct training for members.  The Monitoring Officer informed members that she had agreed a programme of development for all members with the LGA for the new municipal year.

 

 

7.3

The proposal was for the Council’s induction programme to be run in a similar format to last year and in addition dates would be agreed with each political group for specific training around the code of conduct.  There would also be training for all members on local decision making, with the introduction of Local Area committees.

 

 

7.4

The programme would run for a period of 12 months and would be flexible enough for members to help shape it. the programme will also address member/officer relationships and would be coupled with a complimentary training schedule for officers.

 

 

7.5

The rollout and timings of the proposal would be discussed and agreed with the Whips.

 

 

7.6

Councillor Angela Argenzio commented that the Council needed to develop the training provided around Equality and the programme should also include training on personal safety.  Councillor Argenzio asked whether we were positive and encouraged that all members would be involved in the training programme.

 

 

7.7

The Monitoring Officer advised that the training was intended for all Councillors and there would be a reliance on the individual groups to encourage its members to attend and be involved in the training.  The Council would be looking for group champions to engage with fellow members.

 

 

7.8

There was a need to re-energise the training and it was felt that equality, information management training should be mandatory for all members.  It would also be mandatory for members to complete Planning and Licensing training before sitting on these committees as is the current position

 

 

7.9

Councillor Mohammed Mahroof felt that it was important that the training programme needed to be backed up by a robust officer training programme.

 

 

7.10

RESOLVED: - That (1) the committee agrees the updated Members’ Code of Conduct and (2) agrees the proposals for the Member Development Training Programme.

 

 

 

8.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Report of the Director of Legal and Governance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

8.1

The Committee discussed moving the next meeting on a week from its original date of the 15th April 2021.  It was agreed that the meeting on the 15th April 2021 would be cancelled due to key officer availability and to allow the external auditors more time to complete the next update report for the Committee.

 

 

8.2

The Whistleblowing Policy report had been delayed.  All policy work had been suspended during the pandemic and no consultations had yet been sent out in order to start the work needed.  This would be chased up with HR for an update.

 

 

8.3

The next meeting of the Audit and Standards Committee would look at:

 

  • Education Health Care Plan- which had been deferred from a previous meeting.
  • Internal Audit Plan 2021/22
  • Progress in High Opinion Audit Reports
  • Compliance with International Auditing Standards
  • Audit Results (ISA 260) Recommendations
  • Work Programme

 

 

8.4

RESOLVED: That (1) the work programme be noted; and (2) changes to the work programme be made as detailed above.

 

 

 

9.

Dates of Future Meetings

To note that meetings of the Committee will be held at 5.00 p.m. on:-

 

Thursday 15th April 2021

Thursday 10th June 2021

Thursday 29th July 2021

Additional documents:

Minutes:

9.1

Future meetings of the Audit and Standards Committee would be held on:

 

Thursday 22nd April 2021 (TBC)

Thursday 10th June 2021

Thursday 29th July 2021