Council whistleblowing policy refreshed

Whistleblowing policy was refreshed and reminders were sent to council staff about accepting gifts and hospitality after a staff survey revealed “some lack of awareness” in these areas, a report says.

The report will be discussed by Telford & Wrekin Council's Audit Committee
The report will be discussed by Telford & Wrekin Council's Audit Committee

An update for Telford and Wrekin’s Audit Committee also says some employees said they did not receive regular individual supervision or “adequate training” and believed they had not had “a proper induction”.

In the document, internal auditors explain that ethics questionnaires are routinely sent to a sample of workers, and say action plans were drawn up in 2019-20 and implemented throughout the current business year.

The seven-member committee will discuss the report when it meets remotely tomorrow.

“All internal audits consist of an ethics questionnaire that is sent to a sample of staff in the team/areas being audited to demonstrate their understanding of key corporate policies and whether staff feel supported,” the report authors say.

“Results in 2019-20 demonstrate that: Some staff do not feel they have had a proper induction; Some staff do not have regular one-to-one supervision or team briefs; [and] some staff feel they do not receive adequate training.”

These findings have been shared with senior officers, they add, and the resulting action plan included reviewing and re-publicising the induction process and producing guidance for managers.

“Resources issues, including skills, were included as part of the business planning process,” the report says.

“Results of the internal audit questionnaires also indicated some lack of awareness in some areas of key corporate policies such as the ‘gifts and hospitality policy’ and ‘whistleblowing policy’.”

Telford and Wrekin Council’s gifts and hospitality policy requires councillors to update their register of interests when they accept items or services worth more than £25, and requires employees to register gifts and hospitality above that value too.

Like other public authorities, the council also had a whistleblowing policy encouraging staff to report possible fraud, bribery and other wrongdoing.

The internal auditors’ report says, following the survey data, a campaign was launched “aiming to raise the profile of key corporate policies”.

It says “The whistleblowing policy has been refreshed and publicised across the council.

“This is in addition to the production of online fraud training.”

The authors add that reminders about gifts and hospitality were publicised leading up to Christmas.

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