Secret City of York Council internal reports revealed

Secret internal reports from council revealed

Secret internal reports from council revealed

First published in News
Last updated
York Press: Photograph of the Author by

SECRET reports released this week have revealed concerns about social care, information security, health and safety and budget savings at City of York Council.

The Press has obtained 26 internal reports previously not made public, and council bosses have pledged to end similar secrecy in the future.

The papers, obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) laws, cover topics from routine school audits to reviews of services for vulnerable older people, health and safety, and information security, and even the sale of scrap metal from Hazel Court recycling centre.

Now council officials have confirmed that in future, reports like this will be published, with redactions, when they are presented to a council committee.

Of the 26 reports by council auditors Veritau, the majority are neutral or positive with three – two related to social care and one about carbon emission reduction – showing “limited assurance” from the auditors.

The council’s director of governance Andrew Docherty said: “Recommendations from the reports are being addressed by the relevant teams to make the improvements identified and we’re pleased in the first instance that the majority of the reports – 25 out of 28 – came back with either high, substantial or moderate assurance ratings.”

The council’s internal auditors Veritau check on council performance routinely, or because of specific requests from managers, as part of the authority’s commitment to improving services, he added.

But now the council’s head of internal audit, Max Thomas, has confirmed the authority intends to publish all audit reports in redacted form when they are submitted to the audit and governance committee, something York-based governance expert Gwen Swinburn has welcomed.

She said: “It is excellent news that efforts of The Press, citizens and councillors have resulted in the council conceding that internal audit reports will now be submitted in full to the audit and governance committee for proper oversight and monitoring.” While political opponents have called for more openness in the council, the Labour administration has welcomed the good reports from auditors and said the audit reporting procedure is the same as in many other authorities.

Conservative group leader Chris Steward said: “It is vital we see more openness with the publication of audit reports, particularly given the worryingly low level of assurance the auditors have given to areas as vital as budget savings and adult social care.”

A Labour spokesman added: “Just as in every other council, audit reports are prepared routinely to review and improve the quality of public services. These reports have always been available to members of the cross-party audit and governance committee along with information on actions in response to those reports.

“The reporting process is the same as under the previous Lib Dem administration in York and the same as under the current Conservative administration at North Yorkshire County Council.”

 

Social care

Elderly people have been left vulnerable to financial abuse by gaps in money management procedures at some council-run facilities.

Three of the 26 reports released to The Press relate to care for vulnerable people - in sheltered housing or extra care facilities, or through Direct Payments, where people administer and pay for their support themselves.

In a report Social Care Establishments, auditors said they had only limited assurance over the way staff help residents manage their money, and were worried that by not carrying out appraisals on residents’ financial capability the establishments were leaving residents without the help they need to manage their money and, staff open to allegations of theft.

Since the audits, senior managers say they have started monitoring of direct payments, have updated their policies on managing customers’ money, and now include a finance assessment when assessing customers’ needs.


Information security

A heavily redacted report on information security shows that despite earlier reports from the auditors, some sensitive data was still being left lying around council offices at night. The report said although improvements have been made, the list of the kinds of vulnerable information left insecure had grown.


Budget savings

Auditors are confident overall in the council’s processes for making the savings they need to keep up with Government funding cuts, but have concerns over the way the savings are monitored and planned for.

Among the problems spotted were delays in making changes necessary for the savings, and some areas lacking a written plan for saving money. A council spokeswoman has said that in its budget report, being prepared for the September cabinet, the financial position is better than in previous years.

 

Comments (15)

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9:48am Fri 22 Aug 14

York2000 says...

“The reporting process is the same as under the previous Lib Dem administration in York and the same as under the current Conservative administration at North Yorkshire County Council.”

So, before we all go crazy.... is this another non-story? Fanny Free, thoughts?
“The reporting process is the same as under the previous Lib Dem administration in York and the same as under the current Conservative administration at North Yorkshire County Council.” So, before we all go crazy.... is this another non-story? Fanny Free, thoughts? York2000
  • Score: 48

10:05am Fri 22 Aug 14

Fanny Free House says...

York2000 wrote:
“The reporting process is the same as under the previous Lib Dem administration in York and the same as under the current Conservative administration at North Yorkshire County Council.”

So, before we all go crazy.... is this another non-story? Fanny Free, thoughts?
I think York Council have done their best.

As is usual they justify what they do by pointing out that others have done the same as if that makes it "OK".

I look forward to the day when a grown-up council spokes person says, "we were wrong, we are putting it right and by doing so we intend to set the high standard by which others will be measured".

Anyway we know thats not going to happen, but what a cracking headline, I would have preferred "Cold War Council Exposed".
[quote][p][bold]York2000[/bold] wrote: “The reporting process is the same as under the previous Lib Dem administration in York and the same as under the current Conservative administration at North Yorkshire County Council.” So, before we all go crazy.... is this another non-story? Fanny Free, thoughts?[/p][/quote]I think York Council have done their best. As is usual they justify what they do by pointing out that others have done the same as if that makes it "OK". I look forward to the day when a grown-up council spokes person says, "we were wrong, we are putting it right and by doing so we intend to set the high standard by which others will be measured". Anyway we know thats not going to happen, but what a cracking headline, I would have preferred "Cold War Council Exposed". Fanny Free House
  • Score: -112

10:14am Fri 22 Aug 14

Dave Ruddock says...

It does get bad when we have to revert to dictionaries to figure out what is reported.

I wounder if this release of information is long lasting, or when the next council elected the process has to be revisited. It is worrying if SECRETS at the council run deeper than those reports.
It does get bad when we have to revert to dictionaries to figure out what is reported. I wounder if this release of information is long lasting, or when the next council elected the process has to be revisited. It is worrying if SECRETS at the council run deeper than those reports. Dave Ruddock
  • Score: -8

10:30am Fri 22 Aug 14

The Great Buda says...

York2000 wrote:
“The reporting process is the same as under the previous Lib Dem administration in York and the same as under the current Conservative administration at North Yorkshire County Council.”

So, before we all go crazy.... is this another non-story? Fanny Free, thoughts?
Oh of course its a non-story, its just click bait to get the plebs going.
[quote][p][bold]York2000[/bold] wrote: “The reporting process is the same as under the previous Lib Dem administration in York and the same as under the current Conservative administration at North Yorkshire County Council.” So, before we all go crazy.... is this another non-story? Fanny Free, thoughts?[/p][/quote]Oh of course its a non-story, its just click bait to get the plebs going. The Great Buda
  • Score: 33

10:50am Fri 22 Aug 14

York2000 says...

"Cold War Council Exposed".

Ha. Fascinating how the Press are going for it. It's all a bit House of Cards.... who's pulling the strings...?
"Cold War Council Exposed". Ha. Fascinating how the Press are going for it. It's all a bit House of Cards.... who's pulling the strings...? York2000
  • Score: 72

12:23pm Fri 22 Aug 14

SteveSCA says...

The Great Buda wrote:
York2000 wrote:
“The reporting process is the same as under the previous Lib Dem administration in York and the same as under the current Conservative administration at North Yorkshire County Council.”

So, before we all go crazy.... is this another non-story? Fanny Free, thoughts?
Oh of course its a non-story, its just click bait to get the plebs going.
So people who criticise the Council are "plebs", now.

Revealing insight into the mindset of the Council and its supporters.
[quote][p][bold]The Great Buda[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]York2000[/bold] wrote: “The reporting process is the same as under the previous Lib Dem administration in York and the same as under the current Conservative administration at North Yorkshire County Council.” So, before we all go crazy.... is this another non-story? Fanny Free, thoughts?[/p][/quote]Oh of course its a non-story, its just click bait to get the plebs going.[/p][/quote]So people who criticise the Council are "plebs", now. Revealing insight into the mindset of the Council and its supporters. SteveSCA
  • Score: -12

1:29pm Fri 22 Aug 14

Ignatius Lumpopo says...

York2000 wrote:
"Cold War Council Exposed".

Ha. Fascinating how the Press are going for it. It's all a bit House of Cards.... who's pulling the strings...?
Yeah.. and who's eating Freddie's Ribs? Who's taken up the rowing machine? Who's sharing a cigarette by the window in the moonlight?

(Roll on series 3....).
[quote][p][bold]York2000[/bold] wrote: "Cold War Council Exposed". Ha. Fascinating how the Press are going for it. It's all a bit House of Cards.... who's pulling the strings...?[/p][/quote]Yeah.. and who's eating Freddie's Ribs? Who's taken up the rowing machine? Who's sharing a cigarette by the window in the moonlight? (Roll on series 3....). Ignatius Lumpopo
  • Score: 0

6:41pm Fri 22 Aug 14

only human says...

Re the social care abuse bit , its a scandal to know management are not held to account for any misgivings ,no doubt frontline staff are sacrificed when the proverbial hits the fan.
Lets see them put their new found policies into place and ensure all vulnerable people remain safe and secure.
The sheltered housing with extra care facilities should remain just that rather than housing some dubious characters who could potentially pose a risk to other residents.
Re the social care abuse bit , its a scandal to know management are not held to account for any misgivings ,no doubt frontline staff are sacrificed when the proverbial hits the fan. Lets see them put their new found policies into place and ensure all vulnerable people remain safe and secure. The sheltered housing with extra care facilities should remain just that rather than housing some dubious characters who could potentially pose a risk to other residents. only human
  • Score: -11

10:04pm Fri 22 Aug 14

gmsgop says...

York2000 wrote:
“The reporting process is the same as under the previous Lib Dem administration in York and the same as under the current Conservative administration at North Yorkshire County Council.”

So, before we all go crazy.... is this another non-story? Fanny Free, thoughts?
Sadly, not a non-story-we really do need to worry about this. The fact that previous administrations have permitted the top staff such latitude with such minimal oversight from Councillors and citizens is concerning, but history.

The webcasting of meetings, media, and citizens have steadily exposed what has been going wrong in audit and governance and in this case with audit reporting and transparency. Citizens need look no further than the last few months with the poor democratic audit and the worse FOI audit.

The original audit reports were never intended by staff to be shared- so the officers summaries can be (& were) rather 'generous ' and very 'sanitised ' (check York press 'democratic audit'). By being caught not giving a 'realistic' assessment of audits, trust has been out in jeopady and rightly so.

By not having robust monitoring and reporting of audit remedial actions presented to committee as most well run local governments do, the Councillors neither had a good understanding of the problems nor the solutions. Under increasing scrutiny from citizens and the press it became clear trust and confidence is stretched to the limit.

The only thing the council could do was to reveal all these reports & commit to future transparency. Light touch rose tinted summaries with minimal remedial reporting caused this. In many other authorities there are far more comprehensive reports of the audits and robust and regular monitoring frameworks. The internal auditors Veritau are also the auditors to North Yorkshire- so comparisons with other authorities would have been more informative.

There remains the issue of developing a functional monitoring and reporting of audit remedial actions, adopting best practice from other authorities. We do need to make sure all the completed audits have actually been released of course......

Gwen Swinburn
[quote][p][bold]York2000[/bold] wrote: “The reporting process is the same as under the previous Lib Dem administration in York and the same as under the current Conservative administration at North Yorkshire County Council.” So, before we all go crazy.... is this another non-story? Fanny Free, thoughts?[/p][/quote]Sadly, not a non-story-we really do need to worry about this. The fact that previous administrations have permitted the top staff such latitude with such minimal oversight from Councillors and citizens is concerning, but history. The webcasting of meetings, media, and citizens have steadily exposed what has been going wrong in audit and governance and in this case with audit reporting and transparency. Citizens need look no further than the last few months with the poor democratic audit and the worse FOI audit. The original audit reports were never intended by staff to be shared- so the officers summaries can be (& were) rather 'generous ' and very 'sanitised ' (check York press 'democratic audit'). By being caught not giving a 'realistic' assessment of audits, trust has been out in jeopady and rightly so. By not having robust monitoring and reporting of audit remedial actions presented to committee as most well run local governments do, the Councillors neither had a good understanding of the problems nor the solutions. Under increasing scrutiny from citizens and the press it became clear trust and confidence is stretched to the limit. The only thing the council could do was to reveal all these reports & commit to future transparency. Light touch rose tinted summaries with minimal remedial reporting caused this. In many other authorities there are far more comprehensive reports of the audits and robust and regular monitoring frameworks. The internal auditors Veritau are also the auditors to North Yorkshire- so comparisons with other authorities would have been more informative. There remains the issue of developing a functional monitoring and reporting of audit remedial actions, adopting best practice from other authorities. We do need to make sure all the completed audits have actually been released of course...... Gwen Swinburn gmsgop
  • Score: -97

1:09am Sat 23 Aug 14

Badgers Drift says...

The council cannot be trusted.
The council cannot be trusted. Badgers Drift
  • Score: -147

8:50am Sat 23 Aug 14

Fanny Free House says...

How paranoid is the council and its misguided elfs.

Better scour the press website I think you missed a couple of articles that need you attention on the scores.

HAHAAAAA, BOOOOO
How paranoid is the council and its misguided elfs. Better scour the press website I think you missed a couple of articles that need you attention on the scores. HAHAAAAA, BOOOOO Fanny Free House
  • Score: -48

9:10am Sat 23 Aug 14

b3nson says...

Save all your words. This council is only interested in their big salaries, perks massaging their over inflated egos and saving their fat ****. They're not interested in you or me or The City of York.
Save all your words. This council is only interested in their big salaries, perks massaging their over inflated egos and saving their fat ****. They're not interested in you or me or The City of York. b3nson
  • Score: -43

9:49am Sat 23 Aug 14

Fanny Free House says...

This council is IN-competent, IN-capable and IN the last months of it's period of office.

So, the IN council is soon to be the OUT council.

Do let us know if you get sanctioned when claiming JSA and have a little squeal about how unfair the system is and how it doesn't reflect the real situation.

This is a Fanny Free House posting goading the score adjusting elfs.

So much fun, so little effort.
This council is IN-competent, IN-capable and IN the last months of it's period of office. So, the IN council is soon to be the OUT council. Do let us know if you get sanctioned when claiming JSA and have a little squeal about how unfair the system is and how it doesn't reflect the real situation. This is a Fanny Free House posting goading the score adjusting elfs. So much fun, so little effort. Fanny Free House
  • Score: -46

11:02am Sat 23 Aug 14

Badgers Drift says...

Why did the council keep these reports secret?

It's obvious - because they didn't want councillors or citizens to know the truth - the truth that these reports were damning against the council.

This is a very serious issue, and shows that the council are not to be trusted. Furthermore, it shows that those responsible for allowing and deciding that reports would be kept secret without just cause are guilty of witholding information which should not have been witheld.

Councillors should make a vote of no confidence against the officers responsible, who should then be held to account and removed from their positions.

Votes of no confidence in senior council officers is an accepted process, and this should be followed.

Are responsible councillors brave enough to do the right thing?

We will see....... ?!!!
Why did the council keep these reports secret? It's obvious - because they didn't want councillors or citizens to know the truth - the truth that these reports were damning against the council. This is a very serious issue, and shows that the council are not to be trusted. Furthermore, it shows that those responsible for allowing and deciding that reports would be kept secret without just cause are guilty of witholding information which should not have been witheld. Councillors should make a vote of no confidence against the officers responsible, who should then be held to account and removed from their positions. Votes of no confidence in senior council officers is an accepted process, and this should be followed. Are responsible councillors brave enough to do the right thing? We will see....... ?!!! Badgers Drift
  • Score: -59

11:05am Sat 23 Aug 14

Badgers Drift says...

The score hacking is yet more proof of how this council are trying to cover up public opinion.

It stinks!

The council stinks of something very bad!
The score hacking is yet more proof of how this council are trying to cover up public opinion. It stinks! The council stinks of something very bad! Badgers Drift
  • Score: -19

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