What is governance?
Corporate governance is the system by which an organisation is directed and controlled. A good governance structure will include as a minimum:
- governance roles and responsibilities
- clear governance standards by which an organisation will be governed
- a mechanism for measuring an organisations performance against its governance standards
Benefits of good governance
- improved transparency - activities and decisions are open
- more accountability - answerable for decisions and actions
- better decision making - actions and decisions are more open, meaning future decisions will be under more scrutiny
- complying with the law
How governance works in practice
Councillors and officers all have key roles in ensuring the Council has good governance in place.
Councillors are responsible for appointing the most senior officers of the Council. These officers, the Chief Executive and the Strategic Leadership Team, are responsible for setting the Council's objectives to meet the overall priorities, supervising the management of the Council and reporting performance to councillors. #
Good governance at Kingston
We are responsible under the Local Government Act 1999 for ensuring:
- we comply with the law
- public money is used effectively and efficiently
- public money is accounted for
- we manage risks to meet objectives
- we continuously improve our operations to achieve value for money and service effectiveness for our residents
We are required to put in place proper arrangements for governing the organisation and effectively running the services we delivers.
Good governance arrangements should be happening all the time. It isn’t only needed when we make big decisions - it also needs to be in place to ensure effective day to day running of the Council.
Our Annual Governance Statement Cycle helps to ensure we meet good governance standards. The cycle starts with a review of the Local Code of Governance and ends with publishing the Annual Governance Statement. These two key documents underpin the whole cycle:
- The Local Code of Governance
Outlines our pledge to exercise good governance. It describes the six good governance standards the Council must meet and details the mechanism for measuring our performance against these standards.
- The Annual Governance Statement
The final statement, produced and published annually, explains how we have met the six good governance principles of the Local Code of Governance.
Local Code of Governance
Each year we commit to meeting the standards set out in our Local Code of Governance. The seven standards of the Local Code of Governance are:
- Behaving with integrity, demonstrating strong commitment to ethical values, and respecting the rule of law.
- Ensuring openness and comprehensive stakeholder engagement.
- Defining outcomes in terms of sustainable economic, social, and environmental benefits.
- Determining the interventions necessary to optimise the achievement of the intended outcomes.
- Developing the entity’s capacity, including the capability of its leadership and the individuals within it.
- Managing risks and performance through robust internal control and strong public financial management.
- Implementing good practices in transparency, reporting, and audit to deliver effective accountability.
The code encompasses the culture and values, and the systems and processes by which we lead the Kingston community. It enables us to monitor the achievement of our objectives, as set out in Destination Kingston and the Kingston Plan, and to consider whether these plans have led to the delivery of appropriate and cost effective services for residents.
Our governance structure is responsible for delivering and maintaining good governance across the Council.
All members and staff have a role to play in delivering good governance. There are four key sections of the governance structure:
- sets policy and the budgetary framework
- responsible for the appointment of the Mayor and members of committees and panels
- adopts the Members Code of Conduct
- agrees any changes to the Council Constitution
Key committees and panels
- Audit Committee
Responsible for monitoring the performance and effectiveness of our audit arrangements. The committee signs off the Annual Governance Statement.
- Health Overview
Responsible for challenging decisions and making recommendations about health services provided by the Council and other health bodies (including the NHS).
- Neighbourhood committees
A number of committees covering all wards across the borough. Each committee handles has an allocated budget and makes decisions on services provided in the ward.
- Standards Committee
Responsible for promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct amongst staff and Members.
- Strategic committees
There are three strategic committees, the Peoples Services Committee, the Place and Sustainability Committee and the Policy and Resources Committee, and one board, the Health and Wellbeing Board, which set borough-wide policy and take decisions on services which go beyond a single neighbourhood.
- Scrutiny Panel
Chaired by the opposition party, the panel deals with the scrutiny and review of strategic or neighbourhood committee decisions, including those called in by any 100 members of the community.
- Strategic Leadership Team
Provides leadership and strategic direction to staff and develop policies and plans for consideration by members.
- Directorate Management Teams
Made up of leaders and managers from each service:
- provide strategic direction
- develop plans for all aspects of service activities
- responsible for decisions about service delivery and implementing all related policies, plans, service developments and resource allocations
Internal Audit and the Corporate Governance team
- Internal Audit
Deliver an independent and objective evaluation on how well internal controls are working to help the Council achieve its objectives.
- Corporate Governance team
Organise and support the Annual Governance Statement process by collecting information and evidence of assurance.
Information Governance policies
In order to ensure we have clear boundaries for acceptable behaviour in the workplace and guidelines for best practice, the council has a number of Information Governance policies.
This is the overarching Information Security policy that sets the high-level direction and required standards across the organisation.
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