Newham Council establishes Internal Control Commission

8 February 2019 in Finance and Mayor
Newham Council has established an Internal Control Commission which will advise the authority on how it can become a beacon of good practice in terms of financial management and internal control.
The Commission, which was agreed to be set-up at a meeting of Newham Council’s Cabinet this week (Tuesday 5 February), will review previous failings within the Council and assess how they can be learned from.

It follows an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council on 22 January in which Councillors discussed the previous problems within RMS and other areas of the authority. At that Extraordinary Meeting, Councillors unanimously endorsed a series of recommendations, including the establishment of an Internal Control Commission by the Mayor & Cabinet.

Failings within the Council included, weak financial control resulting in an £8.78million overspend into the highways area of RMS, the 2013 London Stadium decision making process that led to £52.2million being allocated which has not been recovered, the 2014 East Ham Campus redevelopment programme, and other historical issues going as far back as 2006.
  • The Commission will review two key lines of enquiry:
  • An assessment of the Council’s existing Internal Control environment, including its shared service with Bexley and Havering OneSource, and to ensure lessons are learned from previous internal control failures and reviews;
  • An assessment of how the Council’s internal control environment failed to prevent the matters arising in the RMS investigations.
  • The Commission is charged with:
  • Recommending a model of best practice of Internal Control for the Council to adopt and implement;
  • To develop an Action Plan for the Council to reach this model of best practice.
The Internal Control Commission will be led by an independent chair and up to four additional members will be appointed. The appointment process will begin immediately and the Commission should start as soon as the appointments have been made. The Commission will be required to compete its review within six months, with a report, including an action plan, to help the Council become a model of best practice. The report, and strategic response of the Mayor and Chief Executive, with the action plan will go to Cabinet for approval and to Full Council for endorsement.

The Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, made a pledge to make Newham Council transparent and open when she was elected in 2018. The Commission is seen as the latest step in that process. She has already called in experts from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy to carry out a financial health check across the organisation. Following the publication of their initial findings, which said financial planning could be better, improvements have already been made to procurement processes.

Mayor Fiaz said: “The Internal Control Commission is the latest step in my promise to make Newham Council more open and transparent than ever before.

“Their investigation will allow us to put right the mistakes made in financial control within RMS.

“In addition, the action plan produced by the Commission will allow us to become a beacon of best practice with regard to financial control, to ensure that every penny of our resources is spent to benefit the people of Newham.”