The audit was conducted by Pembrokeshire Council. The outcome of the audit was an assurance rating of substantial. There were five recommendations from the audit report.
The first recommendation is around formal agreements. It was noted that the four authorities have signed the Joint Committee Agreement. Swansea Bay Health Board and Swansea University have not formally committed to the City Deal via this agreement. Whilst there are no concerns about their commitment, it needs to be formalised.
The second recommendation concerned anti-fraud and anti-corruption strategy. These items have been drafted but will now need to be approved by the Programme Board and Joint Committee.
The third recommendation concerns the residual risk score. This is now present in the Portfolio Risk Register and has been cascaded down to all projects and programmes.
The fourth recommendations related to the reporting on achievements of outcomes, outputs and impacts. This ensures that performance targets are monitored and they are achieving what they set out to do, both at project and portfolio level and showing that they add value. Part of the reporting will also include community benefits.
The fifth recommendation is around private sector funding and ensuring that the risk is mitigated in relation to drawing in the funding from the sector over the next 10-15 years.
Members queried the time frame for the formal agreements being signed by the Swansea Bay Health Board and Swansea University. It was explained that the update to the JWA is part of a wider update. In order for the update to be put into place it needs to be approved by the Programme Board and subsequently the Joint Committee.
Members queried if the updates on progress on the five recommendations would be reported back to the Scrutiny Committee, and what would be the deadline for this reporting. They were advised that an update would be provided in September on the progress of the recommendations from the Internal Audit.
Members queried the financial management and the release of the £54 million to the regions. In order for funding to be release there needs to be a funding agreement in place between the relevant bodies. This ensures that those responsible for delivering the project can be held to account. Some of the funding agreements have taken longer than expect to put in place, however at the current time there is a flow of funding.
Officers advised that UK Government will be releasing their funding over 10 years and Welsh Government are releasing their funding over 15 years. Welsh Government have agreed to front load their funding over the first 10 years. This effectively means that the City Deal will not have to borrow as much funding. However the exact amounts that this transpires to are yet to be determined.
Members queried what happens if private sector investment doesn’t materialise. It was recognised that there are contingencies built into each project and that the four authorities have all committed to providing respective funding. However, it if the full private investment didn’t materialise then the project would fail. There is a change control procedure in place which would assist to try and mitigate any risks that can be foreseen.
Mr Burnes briefly explained how the benefits realisation figures are presented. However, it was recognised that some of the figures may take a couple of years to be fully realised. They will be regularly reported.
Business cases are reviewed to ensure that they are still fit for purpose and that costs are still relevant and appropriate.