CODE OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

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1 CODE OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE JANUARY 2004

2 Contents 1. Introduction to Corporate Governance Community Focus Service Delivery Arrangements Structures & Processes Risk Management & Internal Control Standards of Conduct Annual Reporting...12

3 1. Introduction to Corporate Governance 1.1. Denbighshire County Council has a key role in governing and leading its communities. Effective local government relies on public confidence in elected councillors and officials. Good corporate governance underpins credibility and confidence in our public services and should be transparent to all stakeholders Corporate Governance has been defined as the system by which local authorities direct and control their functions and relate to their communities We must be able to demonstrate that we are complying with the underlying principles of good governance, which are: Openness and inclusivity we are open in our dealings and communicate and engage with all sections of the community to encourage active participation Integrity in our dealings in building effective relationships and partnerships with other public agencies and the private/voluntary sectors Accountability to stakeholders for our performance and our effectiveness in the delivery of services and the sustainable use of resources 1.4. If we are to achieve this, these principles need to be translated into a framework which seeks to ensure that they are fully integrated into the conduct of our business and we must also establish a means of demonstrating that our systems and process are: monitored for their effectiveness in practice subject to review on a continuing basis to ensure that they are up to date 1.5. The principles of good governance can only be adhered to if leadership is exercised through: providing vision for our community and leading by example in our decision-making and other processes and actions members and managers conducting themselves in accordance with high standards of conduct 1

4 1.6. The fundamental principles of corporate governance need to be reflected in the following different dimensions of our business: Community Focus Service Delivery Arrangements Structures & Processes Risk Management & Internal Control Standards of Conduct 1.7. These principles are fully defined in the following sections of the Code which has been prepared following the guidance issued by Cipfa and SOLACE. 2

5 2. Community Focus 2.1. Through carrying out our general and specific duties and responsibilities and our ability to exert wider influence, we: work for and with the community exercise leadership in the local community, where appropriate undertake an ambassadorial role to promote the well-being of the area, where appropriate 2.2. We therefore maintain effective arrangements: for explicit accountability to stakeholders for our performance and effectiveness in the delivery of services and the sustainable use of resources to demonstrate integrity in our dealings in building effective relationships and partnerships with other public agencies and the private/voluntary sector to demonstrate openness in our dealings to demonstrate inclusivity by communicating and engaging with all sections of the community to encourage active participation to develop and articulate a clear and up to date vision and corporate strategy in response to community needs 2.3. The following arrangements demonstrate our commitment to community focus. An annual report is published on a timely basis presenting an objective, understandable account of our activities and achievements and our financial position and performance. A performance plan is published on a timely basis presenting an objective, balanced and understandable account and assessment of our current performance in service delivery and our plans to maintain and improve service quality. Proper arrangements have been implemented for the independent review of the financial and operational reporting processes. 3

6 Proper arrangements have been implemented to encourage individuals and groups from all sections of the community to engage with, contribute to and participate in the work of the authority and we have put in place appropriate monitoring processes to ensure that they continue to work in practice. We make an explicit commitment to openness in all of our dealings, subject only to the need to preserve confidentiality in those specific circumstances where it is proper and appropriate to do so. Clear channels of communication are established with all sections of the community and other stakeholders and we will ensure that they continue to operate effectively. We ensure that a vision for the local community and our strategic plans, priorities and targets are developed through robust mechanisms and in consultation with the local community and other key stakeholders, and that they are clearly articulated and disseminated. 4

7 3. Service Delivery Arrangements 3.1. We ensure that continuous improvement is sought, agreed policies are implemented and decisions are carried out by maintaining arrangements which: discharge our accountability for service delivery at a local level ensure effectiveness through setting targets and measuring performance demonstrate integrity in dealing with service users and developing partnerships to ensure the right provision of services locally demonstrate openness and inclusivity through consulting with key stakeholders, including service users are flexible so that they can be kept up to date and adapted to accommodate change and meet user wishes 3.2. We have put the following arrangements in place to demonstrate our commitment to effective service delivery. Standards and targets for performance in the delivery of services on a sustainable basis and with reference to equality policies. Sound systems for providing management information for performance measurement purposes. Performance is monitored and reported against agreed standards and targets and we develop comprehensive and understandable performance plans. Arrangements are in place to allocate resources according to priorities. We foster effective relationships and partnerships with other public sector agencies and the private and voluntary sectors and consider outsourcing where it is efficient and effective to do so in delivering services to meet the needs of the local community and put in place processes to ensure that they operate effectively. We respond positively to the findings and recommendations of internal and external auditors and statutory inspectors and put in place arrangements for the effective implementation of agreed actions. 5

8 4. Structures & Processes 4.1. We have established effective political and managerial structures and processes to govern decision making and the exercise of authority. We maintain arrangements to: define the role and responsibilities of members and officers to ensure accountability, clarity and good ordering of our business ensure that there is proper scrutiny and review of all aspects of performance and effectiveness demonstrate effectiveness by ensuring a proper balance of power and authority document clearly such structures and processes and ensure that they are communicated and understood to demonstrate openness and incusivity ensure that such structures and processes are kept up to date and adapted to accommodate change 4.2. We have put the following arrangements in place to establish effective structures and processes. Balance of Power and Authority We have established clearly documented protocols governing relationships between members and officers. We ensure that the relative roles and responsibilities of executive and other members, members generally and senior officers are clearly defined. Roles & Responsibilities - Members Regular formal meetings are held to set the strategic direction of the authority and to monitor service delivery. A scheme of delegated or reserved powers has been developed which includes a formal schedule of those matters specifically reserved for the collective decision of the authority. We have established clearly documented and understood management processes for policy development, implementation and review and for decision making, monitoring and control and reporting. 6

9 Formal procedural and financial regulations to govern the conduct of our business have been implemented. Members receive proper training for their roles and have access to all relevant information, advice and resources necessary to enable them to carry out their roles effectively. The role of our executive members is defined formally in writing to include responsibility for providing effective strategic leadership to the authority and for ensuring that the authority successfully discharges its overall responsibilities for the activities of the authority as a whole. We have defined clearly in writing the roles and accountabilities of all members of the authority together with the terms of their remuneration and its review. Roles & Responsibilities Officers We have made the Chief Executive responsible to the authority for all aspects of operational management. The Corporate Director Resources has been made responsible to the authority for ensuring that appropriate advice is given to it on all financial matters, for keeping proper financial records and accounts and for maintaining an effective system of internal financial control. The Monitoring Officer is responsible to the authority for ensuring that agreed procedures are followed and that all applicable statutes, regulations and other relevant statements of good practice are complied with. We have defined clearly in writing the roles and responsibilities of all senior officers together with the terms of their remuneration and its review. We have adopted clear protocols and codes of conduct to ensure that the implications for supporting community political leadership for the whole council are acknowledged and resolved. 7

10 5. Risk Management & Internal Control 5.1. We have established a systematic strategy, framework and processes for managing risk. Together, these arrangements: include making public statements to stakeholders on the our risk management strategy, framework and processes to demonstrate accountability include mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing effectiveness against agreed standards and targets and the operation of controls in practice demonstrate integrity by being based on robust systems for identifying, profiling, controlling and monitoring all significant strategic and operational risks display openness and inclusivity by involving all those associated with planning and delivering services, including partners include mechanisms to ensure that the risk management and control process is monitored for continuing compliance to ensure that changes in circumstances are accommodated and that it remains up to date 5.2. We have put the following arrangements in place to demonstrate effective management of risk. We have developed robust systems for identifying and evaluating all significant risks which involve the proactive participation of all those associated with planning and delivering services. Effective risk management systems have been established, including systems of internal control and an internal audit function. These arrangements ensure compliance with all applicable statutes, regulations and relevant statements of best practice and ensure that public funds are properly safeguarded and used economically, efficiently and effectively and in accordance with the statutory and other authorities that govern their use. Services are delivered by trained and experience people. 8

11 We have established effective arrangements for an objective review of the effectiveness of risk management and internal control, including internal audit. An objective and professional relationship is maintained with our external auditors and statutory inspectors. We publish on a timely basis, within the annual report, an objective, balanced and understandable statement and assessment of the authority s risk management and internal control mechanisms and their effectiveness in practice. 9

12 6. Standards of Conduct 6.1. The openness, integrity and accountability of individuals within the authority form the cornerstone of effective corporate governance. Our reputation depends on the standards of behaviour of everyone in the authority, whether members, employees or agents contracted to the authority Therefore, our members and officers: exercise leadership by conducting themselves as role models for others within the authority to follow define the standards of personal behaviour that are expected from members and staff and all those involved in service delivery and put in place arrangements to ensure: - accountability through establishing systems for investigating breaches and disciplinary problems and taking action where appropriate, including arrangements for redress - effectiveness in practice through monitoring their compliance - that objectivity and impartiality are maintained in all relationships to demonstrate integrity - that such standards are documented and clearly understood to display openness and inclusivity and are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they are kept up to date 6.3. We have put the following arrangements in place to demonstrate effectiveness of our standards of conduct. We have developed and adopted formal codes of conduct defining the standards of personal behaviour to which individual members, officers and agents of the authority are required to subscribe and have put in place appropriate systems and processes to ensure that they are complied with. Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that members and employees of the authority are not influenced by prejudice, bias or conflicts of interest in dealing with different stakeholders and we have put appropriate processes in place to ensure that they continue to operate in practice. 10

13 We have put arrangements in place to ensure that our procedures and operations are designed in conformity with appropriate ethical standards and to monitor their continuing compliance in practice. Whistleblowing arrangements have been put in place to which staff and all those contracting with the Council have access. 11

14 7. Annual Reporting 7.1. Denbighshire County Council recognises the importance of good corporate governance in maintaining public confidence in local government. We, therefore, publish a statement annually in our financial statements on how we are applying the principles set out in this Code and how we are complying with the principles The annual statement is signed by the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive, having been approved by Cabinet on behalf of officers and members The statement summarises how we have monitored compliance with the Code and how we have satisfied ourselves that the Code is both adequate and effective. Any planned changes in our corporate governance arrangements will be set out in the annual statement. 12

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