SL011 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter-Draft
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SL011 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter-Draft

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2004 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter Slough Borough Council INSIDE THIS LETTER PAGES 2 - 15 • The purpose of this letter • Key messages • Council performance • Accounts and governance • Other work • Looking forwards • Closing remarks PAGES 16 - 19 Appendices • Appendix 1 - Reports issued during 2003/04 audit • Appendix 2 - Scope of audit and inspection • Ax 3 - Audit and inspection fee Reference: SL011 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter Date: January 2005 2004 ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER Members need to recognise the risks facing the council arising from the pressure on The purpose of this letter management capacity alongside its ambitious agenda for change. The council should continue This is our audit and inspection ‘Annual Letter’ to develop its processes for assessing risk, for members which incorporates the annual allocating resources and managing performance audit letter for 2003/04 and is presented by the to ensure its priorities are delivered. council’s relationship manager and district Progress towards achieving sustainable funding auditor. The letter summarises the conclusions should be maintained. and significant issues arising from our recent audit and inspections of the council. Action needed by the council We have issued separate reports during the Members need to: year having completed specific aspects of our programme. These reports are listed at • ...

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2004    Annual Audit and Inspection Letter Slough Borough Council
I N S I D E T H I S L E T T E R
P A G E S 2 - 1 5  The purpose of this letter  Key messages  Council performance  Accounts and governance Other work   Looking forwards  Closing remarks
P A G E S 1 6 - 1 9 Appendices  Appendix 1 - Reports issued during 2003/04  audit  Appendix 2 - Scope of audit and inspection  Appendix 3 - Audit and inspection fee                     Reference: SL011 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter Date: January 2005  
    
 2004  
 
The purpose of this letter This is our audit and inspection ‘Annual Letter’ for members which incorporates the annual audit letter for 2003/04 and is presented by the council’s relationship manager and district auditor. The letter summarises the conclusions and significant issues arising from our recent audit and inspections of the council. We have issued separate reports during the year having completed specific aspects of our programme. These reports are listed at Appendix 1 for information. Appendix 2 sets out the scope of audit and inspection. Appendix 3 provides information about the fees charged.   Key messages The council is improving its services and this has been reflected in the council’s corporate performance assessment (CPA) being increased from fair to good. The council has many initiatives to sustain this improvement. Following the recent elections the new administration has been reviewing its priorities and has taken time to fully understand the current progress of improvement initiatives within the council. Following this review the council has now confirmed its priorities and is moving forward with its plans. The council is facing significant change over the coming year. There will be changes in the chief officer team and a further management restructure. Alongside this the council is also managing major initiatives such as the transfer of the running of council housing to an arms length management organisation (ALMO) and progressing the customer contact centre and the Heart of Slough development. Many of these projects are being managed from a small pool of key staff.  
 Annual Audit and Inspection – 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
Members need to recognise the risks facing the council arising from the pressure on management capacity alongside its ambitious agenda for change. The council should continue to develop its processes for assessing risk, allocating resources and managing performance to ensure its priorities are delivered. Progress towards achieving sustainable funding should be maintained. Action needed by the council Members need to:  secure sufficient capacity to manage the significant change and developments currently underway;  monitor progress in preparation for the ALMO, ensuring that contract arrangements are sufficiently strong to enable effective management of the ALMO’s performance;  further strengthen performance management particularly in target setting and setting standards of performance and expected outcomes;  strengthen risk management arrangements;  maintain progress on establishing sustainable finances;  improve the running of the business rates and council tax collection systems;  sustain the work to improve transport, highways and planning services; and  strengthen the performance of the youth offending team.  
Slough Borough Council – Page 2
 2004  ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER   Maj changes are predict or ed for council housing. A good turnout (47 per cent) of Council performance tenants voted strongly (91 per cent) in favour of the proposal to transfer council house management to an arms length organisation. CPA scorecard The council has continued to improve the way it The following exhibit shows the CPA scorecard manages its finances and staff. It needs to which was published on 16 December. improve its collection of council tax and business rates arrears. It has recognised the need to address the decline in benefits EXHIBIT 1 performance . Element of 2003/04 2002/03 Based on Slough Borough Council’s plans, the  assessment council is well placed to continue to improve the Overall Good Fair way it works and the services it provides to Current performance Out of 4 local people. Education 3 3 Housing 2 2 CPA improvement report  Social care (children) 2 2 In this section of the letter we comment on the Social care (adults) 3 2 progress the council has made in its priorities Benefits 3 4 for improvement set out in response to the Environment 2 2 council’s corporate performance assessment Libraries and leisure 3 2 (CPA). Our commentary is structured around these main aims. The change in political   Use of resources 4 3 control, following the election in June 2004, has led to a refocusing of the council’s priorities and  a significant reassessment of the major Capacity to improve 3 3 initiatives commenced under the previous (not reassessed in  2004) administration. (Note: 1=lowest and 4=highest) Education – provide excellent education services  Slough Borough Council has changed from The quality of schools remains good. The being fair to good. council has been successful in obtaining It has made improvements in social services, significant investment in education with a particularly adults services, and cultural priv7.a9t e mfiilnliaonnc teo i rnietbiautiilvd eB (ePeFcI)h wwoorotdh,   Arbr Vale services over the last year. The quality of £a4nd William Penn schools and lso Acadeomy schools remains high and the council has been a successful in attracting external investment. funding of £25 million to replace Langleywood. Environmental services remain fair overall. Recycling rates have improved. Some Social services – improve social service improvements have been made in planning pvruolnviesriaobnl ee smpeecmiablelrys f oorf  tohuer  cmoomstm unity services. More needs to be done to improve transport and highways services. The council Tbheee np raosgsreesssse dm bayd et haeg aCionsmt mtihsissi oprni foorirt yS ohcaisa l launched its community strategy this year. It continues to work effectively with many local rCeavriee awnedd  Itmhproevrevimceesn to (ffCeSreCId) ,t ow holod hera vpee ople partners.  and fosterede  cshildren, and the joint ipection ns  of youth offending teams, which has reviewed the local Youth Offending Team (YOT).   Annual Audit and Inspection – 2004 Slough Borough Council – Page 3  
 2004  
Older people Results from the older people’s inspection earlier this year are very positive. Inspectors found that the council was ‘providing a good  standard of service to the local older people’s population. The council had started from a low base in a number of key areas and has made significant progress since the current senior management team came together’. Inspectors reported waiting times for occupational therapy assessments, for instance, had been reduced significantly. ‘The council had established effective partnerships with health partners initially followed by the voluntary and private sectors and housing... Staff and key stakeholders alike had a good grasp of their own strengths and areas that needed further development. Plans were in place to address these. Most users and carers were positive about their experience of services, which in the main responded to individual needs whilst promoting independence and protecting the most vulnerable. Overall, staff demonstrated a high level of professional expertise and commitment to delivering improved outcomes for users’. Whilst the council has indicated that a great deal of positive work has gone on inspectors went on to say that ‘further work was needed to more effectively engage members of black and minority ethnic communities in the strategic planning, development and evaluation of services. The needs of older people with mental health difficulties and other multiple needs including sensory impairments and their carers also needed further planning and sustainable improvement. Plans to improve IT and management information systems should contribute further to overall improved performance. Underpinned by sustained effort and effective leadership, the prospects for achieving a reputation for high quality older people services were good. Inspectors judged that Slough was serving most people well…(and)… that capacity for improvement was excellent’.  
 Annual Audit and Inspection – 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
Fostering services for children The inspection of fostering services found that the services were largely regulation and standard compliant and that the fostering service staff group continues to give excellent support to the foster carers. The service is child focused and staff were aware of both the strengths and limitations of the services currently available to children and young people who are fostered. The work of the ‘looked after children education service’ was impressive in meeting the needs of children in foster placements. Similarly health care of such children is given a high profile and the overall management of the service is good. Recruitment of foster carers has not been as successful as had been hoped, particularly from minority ethnic groups. The service still has some difficulty in matching children to appropriate carers. There has been slow movement on the appointment of a children’s advocacy officer and on services to help carers prepare young people for independent living. Youth offending team (YOT) The YOT is a multi-disciplinary function made up of the police, probation service, ‘Connexions’, Slough Primary Care Trust and the Prison Service. The performance of the YOT was judged to be unsatisfactory and requiring improvement. The YOT was not outward looking and work for children and young people was not always developed as far as possible. Although there were signs that a performance management culture was beginning to develop, greater leadership was required to ensure that the YOT was focused on achieving consistent outcomes. There were a number of agencies offering interventions and support to children and young people, but these were not always fully exploited by the YOT. The assessment of children and young people who had offended was generally satisfactory, but attention needed to be given to issues such as enforcement and home visiting. Work with victims also required development.  
Slough Borough Council – Page 4
 2004  
Overall Overall the council has made good progress in its social services priority. Housing – improve housing services, ensure decent homes standard is met for all council homes and bring investment into the town for new affordable housing The council recognised that it would not have sufficient resources to meet the ‘Decent Homes’ standard by 2010. After consultation it applied and was one of only two authorities in the south east to be accepted on the ALMO programme. This will entail setting up a company to manage its housing stock and related functions. The council has consulted its tenants over the proposed ALMO and has just received the results of its ballot of tenants and leaseholders for transfer of its stock. Of the 3,823 (47 per cent) tenants who voted 91 per cent said ‘yes’ to an ALMO for Slough. Among leaseholders, 227 voted (21 per cent) with 86 per cent saying ‘yes’. This is a significant endorsement for the council’s plans and has the potential for £36 to £45 million additional investment from the ALMO programme for 2005 to 2010. The council now needs to manage an effective transfer to the new organisation and establish sound management arrangements of the contract to secure the benefits. In addition to the work the council has done in developing its ALMO it has developed its HRA business plan and has made improvements in dealing with homelessness. The Benefits Fraud Inspectorate has assessed the council’s performance as fair which is a decline in the previous year’s assessment of ‘fair towards good’. This has resulted in the CPA score for benefits being reduced from four to three. The council has recognised that it needs to reverse the decline in the level of service provision. Overall the council has made some progress in its housing priority but needs to address the decline in benefits services.  
 Annual Audit and Inspection – 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
Environment – improve environmental services including the cleanliness of our streets and ensure public protection and environmental sustainability are high on our agenda We assessed progress against this improvement priority by carrying out a street scene and recycling inspection. The inspection judged the council as offering a fair service with promising prospects for improvement, an improvement on our previous assessment in 2001 of a poor service. The street scene and recycling service is a clear corporate priority and features strongly in the council’s overall aims. There have been improvements in the refuse collection and street cleaning service linked to the council’s contract with Accord. The council has made good progress in delivering the improvements arising from the original best value reviews. The provision of recycling facilities to residents is good, and there has been recent improvement in the amount of waste composted and recycled. Areas to improve are service standards and their communication to staff and residents. Additionally the targets set for future service improvement will not bring the council's performance up to that of the best 25 per cent of councils nationally. Overall the council has made good progress in its environment priority and the new administration has highlighted it as a continuing priority. Transport – achieve an above average rating for the next transport plan by restoring investment into our streets and roads and managing traffic effectively We have assessed the council’s progress against this improvement priority by carrying out an inspection of its internal transport service review. The council has carried out a robust review of its integrated transport and highways services. Although covering the whole service, the review has ensured a clear focus by identifying a few key issues: public transport, car parking, traffic management and congestion, and highway maintenance.
Slough Borough Council – Page 5
 2004  
The consultation element of the review was particularly strong and it is clear how the concerns of users and stakeholders are fed through into the action plan. Although the action plan is not currently specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART), it does contain a range of proposals that if implemented would lead to a significantly improved transport service and address most of the issues raised in the review. Overall the council has made some progress in its transport priority but has more to achieve to strengthen the service. Leisure and cultural services – continue to improve our leisure, culture and community services and gain greater recognition for the importance of these services to local people We have assessed the council’s progress against this improvement priority by carrying out an inspection of leisure and cultural services. The results of the inspection are that the council provides good cultural services which have uncertain prospects for improvement. Cultural services are important to the council. Political and corporate leadership and support for cultural services are strong. The council’s own challenging ambitions for cultural services are focused on improving the quality of life for local people and link well with the priorities of the community strategy. The council is confident in demonstrating cultural leadership. Cultural services are making a contribution to local area priorities. The council can clearly demonstrate impacts and outcomes aimed at making a contribution to improving the quality of life for local people from the range of cultural activity it supports. This includes tackling social cohesion, building sustainable communities, promoting healthy living and well-being and creating cultural identity. In particular, arts services are excellent quality with imaginative and innovative approaches to stimulating creativity. The council is beginning to contribute effectively to providing a high quality cultural environment through its cultural activity. An understanding of community needs is informing a good standard of cultural opportunities.  
 Annual Audit and Inspection – 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
However, at present the full extent of the contribution cultural services are making to local priorities is unclear, due to weak target setting and under-developed measuring of impacts and outcomes. There are too many priorities for cultural services and ambitions at directorate and service level are confused. In addition the service lacks a robust strategic direction for cultural heritage development. The council recognises the weaknesses in its current capacity and has plans to address many of them. The recent appointment of a new assistant director for cultural services is a very positive step. However, many of the developments are still at the early stages and not yet showing results. Overall the council has made significant progress in its leisure and cultural services priority and this is reflected in leisure and cultural services inclusion in regeneration projects like the Heart of Slough town centre initiative. Customer services – achieve an increase in customer satisfaction The council embarked on a best value review of customer services as a result of which it was agreed to move forward with a customer service centre. The new administration took time to review the project to establish that its objectives are aligned to their own and that it represented good value for money. During this review period short term improvements to customer care have been brought forward. Following the review of the customer service centre project members have recently approved a modified scheme which allows for neighbourhood access and phases the investment over a longer timescale. This major project is now being run through a project board and a detailed implementation plan is being prepared. Members will need to reassure themselves that this complex project is sufficiently well resourced and managed.  
Slough Borough Council – Page 6
 2004  
Work to improve customer care in the shorter-term continues and, now that the customer service centre project has been moved back into its implementation phase, the project teams in place to deliver this short-term work need to be reviewed to avoid duplication and to make the best use of capacity within the council. Use of resources – achieve improvements in financial and performance management by implementing clear service plans in every area of the council and continuing to put funding and investment behind the council’s priorities We have continued to work with Slough, as a critical friend, advising the council as it has developed its performance management arrangements.  The council has worked to ensure that the data it collects is of a better quality and has made progress at the service level with the provision of audit trails and the timing of the collection of performance information. However the council needs to continue to focus strongly on maintaining this progress, both in the collection and management of information in service departments and particularly relating to its partnerships and contracts which has some way to develop. The council has focused on achieving a common thread of targets and objectives that flows from the corporate priorities through service plans to individual targets. The council has made progress defining this link and a number of the latest service plans, although not following a corporate template, articulate this link. The recent change in administration and the shift in council priorities will require the council to rapidly reassess its plans to ensure that this progress is maintained. The council reports performance to senior officers and members on a quarterly basis. However the extent of information contained within service plans and the amount of performance information available to senior officers and members outside these reports is in need of improvement as is the consistency of implementation of corporate improvements at a departmental and service level.  
 Annual Audit and Inspection – 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
The council has recognised these issues and is considering the options available to it in the period preceding the implementation of a full customer relationship management (CRM) software tool as part of the customer service centre project. This has included the recent purchase of performance management software. Overall the council has made significant progress on performance management from a low base line. To continue this improvement it must maintain focus on performance management. Other performance work Overview and scrutiny We reported earlier in the year on weaknesses in the council’s scrutiny arrangements. The new administration has accepted the report’s recommendations and has allowed opposition members to chair the scrutiny committees. In addition more training work is being commissioned and a scrutiny development officer has been appointed. Scrutiny is therefore likely to improve. Partnerships As part of this year’s audit we have reviewed the council’s approach to partnership working. There has been a long history of partnership working within Slough and this has usually come under the regeneration banner provided by Nai Roshni the partnership funded from single regeneration budget. The council and its partners have taken considerable steps to put in place a partnership framework to deliver on the wider community agenda. This has achieved high levels of involvement of the key players. The local strategic partnership (LSP) has undertaken a good assessment of community needs which takes account local aspirations. However there needs to be greater clarity as to how the LSP will operate secondments and how shared resources will be controlled. All partners, including the council, need to ensure that community strategy priorities and targets are incorporated in their business plans to ensure greater ownership and effective delivery.  
Slough Borough Council – Page 7
 2004  
Some key initial steps have been taken by the council, with new procedures for grants to voluntary organisations and aligning these to council and community strategy objectives. Overall, the LSP has made good progress and is developing its arrangements to ensure that the partnership is meeting community needs and priorities. Risk management The council has made some progress on risk management although more remains to be done. The council has for some time identified its top 18 risks. In order to spread more formal and corporate risk management across the council it is currently populating and analysing a risk register. The council needs to progress its work in this area, by assessing resources and timescales required. Risks need to be reviewed and classified and common themes identified. The council then needs to continue to ensure this process is embedded across departments and that risk assessments are regularly updated. E-government The council’s progress on implementing e-government has been delayed during the member review of the customer service centre programme. The business case for the proposed customer service centre was endorsed by the council in January 2004 but placed on hold in June after members of the new administration expressed concerns about the concept of the centre and associated costs. As a result, although action has been taken to review the programme and bring forward projects where possible, there is an increased risk that some e-government targets and shared priority outcomes set out by the ODPM will not be fully met by the required date 31 December 2005.  
 Annual Audit and Inspection – 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
The ODPM’s has defined 54 ‘required and good’ outcomes and has agreed a system of traffic lights for measuring progress against priority outcomes.  ‘Red’ status means that work by the council is at a primary or research stage, is being piloted before wider rollout or is planned but not yet approved for funding.  ‘Amber’ status – work has been approved and is actively being implemented.  ‘Green’ status – projects have been actioned and implemented or particular standards achieved with plans for wider rollout across the council. We have assessed the council’s progress as:  8 outcomes currently ‘red’;  39 outcomes currently ‘amber’; and  7 outcomes currently ‘green’. In the case of outcomes that we have assessed as ‘amber’, the council has plans in place to tackle and fully meet the required outcome by the target date. In those areas assessed as ‘red’ council plans are, as yet, unclear and there is a risk that they will not be met by the target date. The council has introduced new governance arrangements covering e-government, service centre and customer services programmes. These are working effectively. There is a robust bidding and business case process in place. Major projects We have reviewed the council’s approach to the management of major projects. The council does not have any corporate policies on the management of projects nor systems to evaluate and learn from existing projects. However it has recognised this and is in the process of implementing a council wide project management system. The council is involved in a number of major projects which involve the same key members of staff in their management. While this has not affected current performance the council needs to be aware of the potential limits on capacity.  
Slough Borough Council – Page 8
 2004  
Recruitment and retention The council has made significant progress in recruitment and retention, particularly in reorganising the human resources function and in recruiting more staff from black and minority ethnic communities. The council has been recently commended as an ‘Employer of Choice’ in the Thames Valley Region Business Awards. Recruitment difficulties remain in some areas, but these are being approached pro-actively by the departments concerned, for example, to improve the recruitment of teaching and social services staff. The council has improved retention through a range of human resources initiatives, for example in staff training and management development. There has been a focus on retention strategies for teaching and social care staff. Whilst there is a partnership approach with staff and trade unions representatives, issues remain in harmonising terms and conditions of employment across the council and the staff turnover rate remains high but is improving. Working with other inspectorates and regulators An important aspect of the role of the relationship manager is to work with other inspectorates and regulators who also review and report on the council’s performance. These include: Ofsted;   Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI);  Benefits Fraud Inspectorate (BFI);  DfES; and  Local Government Office contact. We share information and seek to provide ‘joined up’ regulation to the council.  
 Annual Audit and Inspection – 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
Accounts and governance We have given your accounts an unqualified audit opinion. Your overall corporate governance arrangements are satisfactory in most key areas however the council should improve its business rates and council tax recovery and reconciliation processes. Internal audit needs to continue to improve. Audit of 2003/04 accounts We gave an unqualified opinion on the council’s accounts on 30 November 2004.  Matters arising from the final accounts audit The published accounts are an essential means by which the council reports its stewardship of the public funds at its disposal and its financial performance in the use of those resources. The deadline for completion of the accounts is being brought forward progressively each year in line with the government’s requirement. The statement of accounts was approved by members in July a month in advance of the end August deadline. However a number of amendments led to the audit opinion being issued on the deadline of 30 November. These are summarised in the following paragraphs. The deadlines for closure will become increasingly more difficult to achieve and will require early planning and thoughtful scheduling of key meetings next year. Corporate accountancy staff are planning for this and we will continue to work with them to promote a more efficient and effective closedown process. In particular we would encourage better quality working papers in some areas and more robust reconciliation processes.  
Slough Borough Council – Page 9
 
 2004  
Report to those with responsibility for governance in the council We are required by professional standards to report to those charged with governance (in this case the council) certain matters before we give an opinion on the financial statements. This report was considered by council on 23 November 2004 with the audit opinion being issued on November 30. The issues reported included: the need to include a provision and disclose  a contingent liability in respect of late invoices received from the council’s contractor for housing maintenance and repair work. The final outcome is not yet known and the council is now in formal resolution over this; the need for the council to reduce the  revaluation of its housing stock by £48 million to comply with government valuation requirements and to provide a valuer’s certified report. Capital charges to the housing revenue account were increased to reflect the revised valuation though this had no impact on rents; and  the need to improve reconciliation processes particularly in respect of business rates and council tax. The statement of accounts was presented for audit with significant un-reconciled systems. This was in part due to the systems changeover in year. These differences were substantially reconciled by the time we gave our opinion and further significant amendments resulted. Whilst there was no loss in resources, dealing with these reconciliation issues delayed the progress of the audit. Officers should ensure this is fully addressed earlier in future years.  
 
 Annual Audit and Inspection – 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
Financial standing The council’s financial position has continued to improve and is now stronger. Balances now stand at a more sustainable level. The council should maintain its focus on securing a sustainable financial position. General fund spending and balances We reported last year that the council needed to restore its balances to a more reasonable level in the medium-term. The council has made significant achievements on this in 2003/04. The council has achieved its budget. It originally planned to contribute £2.8 million to its balances in 2003/04. This target has been exceeded by £0.3 million and the general fund balance now stands at £5.9 million. The council has a well established budget challenge (star chamber) process to scrutinise growth and savings for budgets three years ahead, to aid cabinet decision making and form the basis of its three year financial strategy. In addition budget monitoring has continued to improve. The council’s budget for 2004/05 is £149.5 million. Latest monitoring shows budget pressures particularly in learning and cultural services and housing and neighbourhood services. If reported overspends are not contained year-end balances are predicted to fall by £2.1 million. However the council is now reviewing its earmarked reserves with a view to containing this position. The council is facing budget pressures and is undertaking a range of major initiatives. It therefore needs to maintain its focus on strong budget monitoring, achieving a sustainable level of balances and on building its medium-term financial strategy.  
Slough Borough Council – Page 10
 2004  
Systems of internal financial control There is still a need to improve debt recovery and reconciliation procedures. Internal audit has achieved some improvement but more is needed. Income collection and arrears We commented last year that the council needed to improve its debt management arrangements. Exhibit 2 below shows collection rates in comparison to 2002/03. EXHIBIT 2 Collection 2003/04 2002/03 rates Council tax 94.4% 95.8% Business rates 96.7% 97.4% Rent arrears 95.3% 95.5%  The council’s collection rates have worsened over the year. This has been due in part to the change of systems for council tax and business rates which delayed recovery activity. The council should now establish and monitor action plans aimed at:   improving collection rates to national averages as a minimum; and  establishing robust and timely reconciliation processes for business rates and council tax. Officers have informed us that delays in recovery had been expected and reported to members and that council tax collection rates to date in 2004/05 are well above previous targets and should exceed the planned target.  
 Annual Audit and Inspection – 2004  
ANNUAL AUDIT AND INSPECTION LETTER  
Capital programme The council’s capital programme for 2003/04 was budgeted at £38 million but spending was only £27 million. This underspend has been carried forward to 2004/05. The underspends have been due to various factors some of which have not been within the council’s control. Although the council has continued to develop its capital monitoring arrangements particularly for larger schemes, it should maintain focus on continuing this particularly in light of the significant capital programme anticipated under the ALMO. The council has recognised this and has appointed a strategic partner to assist in this. Internal audit Last year we reported that internal audit (IA) needed to improve. This year IA has strengthened its arrangements for reporting performance to members. Improvement should continue to be focused on:  securing delivery of the audit plan; and  ensuring work is of a consistently good quality and reported promptly. We will continue to work with IA next year and monitor progress made in improvement. Standards of financial conduct and the prevention and detection of fraud and corruption We have not identified any significant weaknesses in your arrangements to prevent and detect fraud and corruption. We have updated our assessment of your arrangements for preventing and detecting fraud and corruption. Subject to our comments on the National Fraud Initiative and internal audit we have no issues to raise.  
Slough Borough Council – Page 11