Agenda and minutes
Venue: Remote - Digital. View directions
Contact: Clerk: Kathryn Hughes Deputy Clerk: Buddug Saer
Introductions, apologies and declaration of interests
1.1 The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted one
apology from Manon Antoniazzi, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Senedd, and
1.2 The Committee welcomed Siwan Davies as acting Chief
Executive and Clerk of the Senedd and Additional Accounting Officer.
1.3 No interests were declared.
Minutes of 29 April, actions and matters arising
ARAC (22-03) Paper 1 – Draft Minutes of 29 April 2022
ARAC (22-03) Paper 2 – Summary of actions
2.2 Ed Williams had received confirmation that a timeline
for the district heating scheme would be agreed within eight weeks. He agreed
to provide the Committee with an informal briefing before the Autumn.
- Ed Williams to organise an informal briefing on Cardiff Council’s sustainability strategy and activities.
G&A update report
ARAC (22-03) Paper 3 – Governance & Assurance Update
Report - June 2022
3.1 Gareth Watts presented his update on overall governance
and assurance activity. He had circulated the follow-up report on previous
cyber-security audits out of committee and thanked Committee members for their
questions which he had passed on to relevant officials for response. He planned
to share the reports on the most recent cyber-security audit and the audit of
compliance with the Official Languages Scheme in the coming weeks.
3.2 Gareth confirmed that the tendering exercise for the
internal audit co-sourced partner was on-going. He was pleased to report
evidence from the supplier presentations of audit experience in the Welsh
public sector. The new contract was due to take effect from 1 August 2022.
3.3 The Committee questioned the ways in which the number of contracts awarded to Welsh suppliers were measured and reported. Gareth would be working with the Head of Procurement to discuss how this might incorporate the Welsh economic impact of suppliers as opposed to presence in Wales.
Consider External Audit opinion (ISA 260 Report) for the financial year 2021-22
ARAC (22-03) Paper 4 – ISA260 Report
4.1 Gareth Lucey introduced the ISA 260 report and noted the
intention for Audit Wales to issue an unqualified (clean) audit opinion on the
2021-22 accounts. He also highlighted that no misstatements had been
identified, with only a few minor amendments to the supporting narrative, and
no recommendations arising from the audit.
4.2 In relation to an issue that was raised during last
year’s audit, Gareth reported that the audit team had worked with the Finance
team to trawl for instances where capital expenditure could be recorded as
revenue and were satisfied that no material items were identified.
4.3 Gareth also highlighted one matter arising late in the
audit process around revaluation of land and building assets which had an
impact on the financial statements. He outlined that, whilst the Commission
revalued these assets every three years, in line with accounting standards, a
further revaluation was required due to material differences caused by rising
building replacement costs. This rise was due to the impact of increases in
inflation across the building sector in the final quarter. Gareth expressed his
thanks to Nia Morgan and her team for addressing this quickly. Audit Wales had
also discussed the revaluation directly with the valuers and were satisfied
with what they considered to be a reasonable estimate. The Committee agreed it
seemed logical to seek a revaluation of the Senedd estate.
4.4 Audit Wales had concluded that the financial statements
gave a true and fair record of the state of the Commission’s affairs. They
thanked Nia, Catharine Bray and the Finance team for their efforts and hard
work again this year which resulted in another very smooth audit.
4.5 The Chair thanked Audit Wales for their thorough report and praised Nia and the Finance team for their work, and for the way they had responded to the late request for revaluation. He had welcomed the opportunity to meet the audit team on 31 May, noting the importance of the Committee’s reliance on external audit as one of the primary providers of assurance on internal controls. He had been pleased to hear assurances from the audit team on the quality of the data and the systems in place, which aided the audit process.
4.6 The Committee members noted that the positive ISA 260 report was a reflection on the work done internally and thanked both parties.
Committee members acknowledged that the impact of increasing inflation was a global issue. Ann-Marie Harkin commented on the time spent by public sector bodies and auditors dealing with the impact of inflation increases, particularly on revaluations. She added that HM Treasury were undertaking a review of this impact and the pressure on resources of public sectors across the UK.
4.7 Ann-Marie Harkin confirmed that she would be signing the accounts again this year and that Adrian Crompton, Auditor General for Wales would be in a position to sign them next year.
Consider the Commission's Annual Report and Statement of Accounts 2021-22 (to recommend the signing of the accounts)
ARAC (22-03) Paper 5 - ARA 2021-22 - cover paper
ARAC (22-03) Paper 5 - Annex A – ARA 2021-22
5.1 Siwan Davies introduced the Annual Report and Accounts,
noting that the narrative had been reviewed previously by the Committee in
April. She invited Nia to present the Statement of Accounts.
5.2 Nia thanked the audit team for a smooth audit process.
She also thanked her team for their commitment and outstanding work in
completing another clean set of accounts. She recorded her thanks, in
particular to Catharine Bray, Head of Finance as she would be retiring in
November – the Committee also wished to record specific thanks to Catharine,
and to wish her well for her retirement.
5.5 Nia described the significant amount of work involved in
reviewing capital versus revenue spend, which had been undertaken by the
Finance team. They would continue to work with Audit Wales to refine this
process and to ensure a common understanding of any grey areas.
5.6 Nia confirmed that, subject to agreement by the Commission,
the Annual Report and Accounts were due to be signed and laid before the Senedd
on behalf of the Auditor General for Wales on 23 June. They would then be
scrutinised by the Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee in the
5.7 The Chair and members of the Committee congratulated Nia
and the Finance team on the clean set of accounts and the assurances provided
during the discussion. Siwan also praised the team for their ongoing
5.8 Siwan invited Arwyn Jones to outline details of the
interactive presentation of the Annual Report on the Senedd website. Arwyn
presented an updated version of the web pages, highlighting the prominence of a
printable version. He demonstrated how readers could navigate to specific
sections of the report, with links to related published material, including
reports and video and audio content.
5.9 In response to suggestions from Committee members, Arwyn agreed to add details on recent activity relating to the report by the Special Purposes Committee on Senedd Reform. He also agreed to include a link from the online version to briefing produced ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
ARAC (22-03) Paper 6 – Corporate Risk
ARAC (22-03) Paper 6 – Annex A - Summary Corporate Risk Register
ARAC (22-03) Paper 6 – Annex B – Corporate Risks plotted
6.1 The Chair referred to the quality of the documentation and the updates provided, and noted that there had been no movements to the overall risk ratings since the Register was presented to the Committee at its 29 April meeting.
response to a request for changes to the narrative in the Register to be
highlighted, Kathryn Hughes reminded the Committee that the ‘current status’ field
was substantially updated ahead of each meeting and this included details of
any changes to the controls, for example.
6.4 The Committee thanked officials for their comprehensive updates and the Chair noted the proportionate management responses to the risks.
Critical examination of one identified or emerging risk or issue - Senedd Reform
7.1 The Chair invited Siwan Davies to introduce this item
and welcomed Richard Thomas, Constitutional Change Implementation Manager to
the meeting. Siwan explained Richard’s experience with implementing previous
reform activity, how he had supported the Special Purpose Committee on Senedd
Reform and his role in managing delivery of this next phase of the reform
agenda and the associated risks.
7.2 Siwan welcomed this opportunity to provide the latest
information to the Committee and to discuss the governance and challenges
around what would be a momentous and all-encompassing transformational change.
She outlined the various elements of the reform proposals which included an
increase in the number of Members from 60 to 96 and a different electoral
7.3 The report by the Special Purpose Committee on Senedd
Reform, which had been published on 30 May, was debated by the Senedd in the
Plenary meeting on 8 June. The motion to endorse the recommendations in the
report was moved, with 40 Members voting in favour. It was considered unlikely
that any wider political consensus in favour of reform would be achieved. This
gave the Welsh Government a strengthened mandate to bring forward legislation
to enact the reform proposals by 2026. It was expected that the Bill would be
introduced by Autumn 2023, and receive Royal Assent by Summer 2024.
7.4 Siwan advised that Commission officials had been working
with the Welsh Government to establish joint governance arrangements on those
elements of the Senedd Reform Programme where a joint interest and
decision-making dependencies exist and support collaborative working between
the Welsh Government and the Senedd Commission. The Llywydd had discussed the joint
governance arrangements with the First Minister.
7.5 The Commission’s Executive Board had been considering
the proposed governance arrangements for the Senedd Commission projects, with
details due to be presented to the Commission in July. Governance arrangements
would encompass planning to support the passage of legislation (business as
usual), reform of Commission services (ways of working) and reform of Senedd
business. Senedd Commission officials would also support the Remuneration
Board’s reform project.
7.6 Siwan outlined some of the key challenges, including the following:
- the need to implement a major transformation programme for the Seventh Senedd alongside delivering business as usual during the Sixth Senedd;
- financial constraints;
- harnessing appropriate expertise; and
- engaging with stakeholders, particularly given the
multiple-ownership and interdependencies of various projects.
7.7 Siwan provided assurance to the Committee around the
detailed planning underway to deliver the reform programme and manage the
challenges she had outlined. The planning would incorporate governance
arrangements for the Commission, and joint working with the Independent
Remuneration Board and the Welsh Government but with clear delineation.
7.8 The Committee acknowledged the magnitude of the Senedd Reform programme and its all-encompassing effect on delivery of the Commission’s services. The Chair and members were keen to help in areas where they could add value and noted that Senedd Reform would be a key area of focus in its forward work programme. The Chair suggested that ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
(22-03) Paper 7 – Departure Summary
8.1 The Committee noted one departure from normal procurement procedure.
Committee's Annual Report to the Commission and Accounting Officer
ARAC (22-03) Paper 8 – cover paper
(22-03) Paper 8 draft ARAC Annual Report
Committee discussed and agreed the areas suggested in the paper for inclusion
in the forward look section of the report. These included Senedd Reform which
would evidently dominate the Committee’s focus in the coming year, and
decarbonisation which was due to be discussed at the July meeting. The Chair
also noted the increasing importance of the Commission’s Corporate Delivery
9.3 Ann Beynon asked for clarification that the inclusion of
communications and engagement as an area of focus in the coming year related to
the Commission's strategy for engaging with the public, particularly with those
who were disengaged or hard to reach. Arwyn Jones agreed to provide updates to
the Committee during the year on plans to address this, including through the
use of social media. He would also report on the use of new social media
monitoring tools to better measure engagement which would form the basis of key
performance indicators in the Commission’s 2022-23 Annual Report.
9.4 The Committee approved its Annual Report and noted that a bilingual version would be presented by the Chair at a Commission meeting on Monday 11 June.
Consider timing and content of the Committee's effectiveness survey
ARAC (22-03) Paper 9 – cover paper - survey
(22-03) Paper 9 – revised survey with additional questions
Forward work programme
ARAC (22-03) Paper 10 – Forward Work Programme
11.1 The Committee agreed on the proposed items to be discussed at the informal meeting in July. A revised forward work programme would be shared and published after that meeting.
Any other business
Next formal meeting is scheduled for 21 November 2022.