1.1 North Lanarkshire Council is committed to ensuring that its business is conducted in accordance with the law and proper standards, and that public money is safeguarded, properly accounted for, and used economically, efficiently, and effectively.
1.2 The council also has a duty under the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 to demonstrate Best Value by securing continuous improvement in performance. Good governance is central to meeting Best Value obligations as effective governance and accountability arrangements, with openness and transparency in decision-making, schemes of delegation, and effective reporting of performance are essential for taking informed decisions and ensuring effective scrutiny of performance and stewardship of resources.
1.3 To maintain compliance in terms of ensuring good governance and delivering continuous improvement, the council has adopted the principles and requirements of the Delivering Good Governance in Local Government: Framework (2016) and accompanying Guidance Notes for Scottish Local Authorities (2016) published by Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) in association with Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE).
1.4 To ensure its good governance arrangements are sound and the highest standards are met, the council has set out its commitment to the national principles of good governance by determining its own governance structure (local code) underpinned by these principles. This local code is set out in the Strategic Governance Framework.
1.5 In discharging these duties Chief Officers and Elected Members are responsible for implementing the council’s governance arrangements and ensuring the local code, the Strategic Governance Framework, is assessed on an annual basis to ensure ongoing effectiveness and compliance.
1.6 In this respect, the council has arrangements in place through the Corporate Management Team to ensure appropriate and regular oversight, management, and reporting at a strategic level to support delivery of The Plan for North Lanarkshire and Programme of Work. A standing agenda item for governance and risk further demonstrates the commitment to ensuring effective corporate governance arrangements are in place. As part of their annual evaluation process of the Strategic Governance Framework and supporting review programme, the Corporate Management Team is also responsible for identifying improvement actions and/or future planned developments in relation to key governance arrangements and continuous improvement.
1.7 Independent and objective assurances are provided by Internal Audit whose function is designed to add value and improve the council’s operations. This in turn helps the council accomplish its strategic ambitions by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of the council’s risk management, internal control, and governance processes. The council’s internal audit arrangements are consistent with the CIPFA Statement on the role of the Head of Internal Audit in public service organisations (2019).
1.8 Internal Audit activity is planned to enable an independent opinion to be given by the Head of Audit and Risk each year on the adequacy and effectiveness of internal controls within the council, including the systems designed to achieve the strategic ambitions of the council and those that manage the material risks faced by the council. It is noted, however, that the presence of an effective internal audit function contributes towards, but is not a substitute for, effective control.
1.9 The purpose of the Audit and Scrutiny Panel, whose activities and functions comply with the standards set out in CIPFA’s Position Statement: Audit Committees in Local Authorities (2018), is to provide independent assurance to the council and those charged with governance on the adequacy of the council's risk management framework and internal control environment. In this respect, the Panel is responsible for providing independent review of the council's governance, risk management, performance, and control frameworks, and overseeing the financial reporting and annual governance processes. It also oversees the council's internal and external audit arrangements, helping to ensure efficient and effective assurance arrangements are in place.
1.10 This statement also covers the organisations consolidated in the council’s Group Accounts.