Our corporate governance framework

Committees reporting to the Commission Board Accordion

Part 2: The Commission Board and Committees continued

Development and strategy events

The Commissioners may also attend development and strategy events, referred to as ‘Commissioner Days’. The purpose of such events will be to provide an opportunity for Commissioners to reflect more thoroughly on strategy and key issues and also to develop their working practices.

In such circumstances Commissioners do not have delegated powers and are not acting as a decision making body. The membership, terms of reference, and arrangements for such events are decided by our Board, and progress monitored and reported for the information of the Board.

Commissioner Reference Groups

Periodically the Board may invite Commissioners to be a point of contact or reference group for staff on an issue or project. In such circumstances Commissioners do not have delegated powers and are not acting as a decision making body. The membership, terms of reference, and life of such a request are decided by the Board, and progress monitored and reported for the information of the Board.

Electoral Commission – delegation of powers and duties

The Electoral Commission Board is accountable to the:

  • Speaker's Committee of the UK Parliament
  • Llwydd's Committee of the Senedd (in relation to the exercise of our devolved Welsh functions)
  • Scottish Parliament Corporate Body of the Scottish Parliament (in relation to the exercise of our devolved Scottish functions)

The Electoral Commission Board can delegate to:

  • The Accounting Officer and Chief Executive
  • The Audit and Risk Committee
  • The Remuneration and Human Resources Committee

The Accounting Officer and Chief Executive are also accountable to the Speaker's Committee of the UK Parliament, the Llwydd's Committee of the Senedd, and the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body. The Accounting Officer and Chief Executive can delegate using the Executive Scheme of Delegation.

Powers reserved to the Board

Corporate Governance

Decisions:

  • Consideration and approval of the Corporate Governance Framework including delegated powers, Standing Orders and Prime Financial Policies.
  • Consideration and approval of the Code of Conduct for Electoral Commissioners.
  • Establishment of committees of the Board; appointment of members of committees; appointment of the Chairs of committees; appointment of the Independent Adviser to the Audit and Risk Committee and agreement of terms of reference of committees. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Schedule 1 paragraphs 8,9 and 10

Strategy

Decisions:

  • Setting the strategic direction.
  • Periodic review of key Commission policy positions.

Corporate plans and budget

Decisions:

  • Consideration and approval of the key principles and approach to informing the content of the Commission’s budget, and Corporate Plan. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Schedule 1 paragraphs 14 and 15
  • Variations to the approved budget where the variation would have a significant impact on the overall approved levels of income and expenditure. A financial variation shall be treated as significant if it involves incurring one-off expenditure of £1 million or more, or recurring expenditure of £250,000 or more per annum.

Annual reports and accounts

Decision:

  • Approval of key messages in annual reports and adoption of accounts (includes reporting on use of investigatory powers and civil sanctions and the annual report for the performance of the Commission in relation to the local government elections (or related matters) in Scotland). Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Schedule 1 paragraphs 17 and 20 and 20A, Schedule 19B paragraph 15 and Schedule 19C paragraph 27, and Local Administration (Scotland) Act 2011

Appointment of Assistant Commissioners

Decision:

  • Approve appointment of Assistant Commissioners when relevant. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Schedule 1 paragraph 7

Performance management

Decision:

  • Consideration of regular performance and finance monitoring reports.

Risk management

Decisions:

  • Satisfy itself that there are appropriate risk management arrangements in place for the Commission.
  • Determine the Commission’s risk appetite.

Human Resources

Decisions: 

  • Approval of significant changes to overall staff terms and conditions of employment. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Schedule 1 paragraph 11
  • Appointment and termination of employment of the Chief Executive including approval of remuneration recommendations from the Remuneration and Human Resources Committee.
  • Decisions relating to the Chief Executive’s contract terms, remuneration and any bonus, if different from the framework applying to all other staff, will be taken by the Board, on the recommendation of the Remuneration and HR Committee. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Schedule 1 paragraph 11

Significant publications2

Decision:

  • Where the Chair and Chief Executive have identified a significant publication that merits consideration by the Board, agreement in advance to the key messages, the plan for the publication, and for communication and implementation.

Promotion of public awareness of UK electoral and democratic systems

Decision:

  • Approval of strategies and expenditure to meet this statutory duty. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Section 13

Responses to Government and other consultations, or public positions, beyond existing policy

Decision:

  • Approve approach to consultation responses or other public positions which are either beyond agreed policy or of major public or political significance.

Performance standards issues (Electoral Administration) for Returning

Decision:

  • Approval of the overall framework of performance standards and reviewing the development of performance standards. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Sections 9A and 9B

Officers and Electoral Registration Officers

Decision:

  • Approval of enforcement policy. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Schedule 19B paragraph 14

Party finance regulation issues

Decision:

  • Receive emerging and final recommendations to Secretary of State for review of candidate spending limit review.
  • Receive periodically for the purpose of monitoring and review a summary of PEF statutory decisions taken.

Policy Development Grants and assistance to parties

Decision:

  • Approve and keep under review the scheme for the allocation of policy development grants to political parties, submitting recommendations for terms and change to the Secretary of State. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Section 12

Commission Administration

Decision:

  • Approve minutes of Board meetings.
  • Approval of decisions to initiate or defend litigation in respect of matters which are of public, political, financial or reputational significance.

Litigation

Decision: 

  • Approval of decisions to initiate or defend litigation in respect of matters which are of public, political, financial or reputational significance.

Election pilot reports

Decision:

  • Agree participation in and reporting on pilot schemes. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Section 9

Secretary of State electoral administration direction power to Electoral Registration Officers – only exercisable on recommendations of the Commission

Decision:

  • Approve any recommendations of the Commission to the Secretary of State. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Section 8

Referendums

Decision: 

  • Approve the approach to question assessment, and the assessment itself. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Section 104 (and if applicable Section10)
  • Approve the approach and budget for public awareness campaigns. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Section 13
  • Agree the framework for designating lead campaign organisations for each referendum, and designate. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Sections 108 and 109
  • Approve the framework for allocation of grants to campaign organisations. Relevant specific provisions in PPERA: Section 110

Decisions/duties delegated by the Board to committees

Audit and Risk Committee

Decision/duty

Provision to the Board of assurance that appropriate risk, internal control and governance processes are in in place across the Commission.

Approval of the Risk Management Framework and regular review of the Commission’s strategic, corporate and directorate risks.

Confirmation of the Annual Assessment of Information Risk Management.

Review of the Annual Governance Statement and to recommend approval of the Statement by the Accounting Officer as appropriate.

Review of the accounting and financial policies and the annual accounts of the Commission and to recommend to the Commission Board that it adopts the accounts and to the Accounting Officer that s/he sign the accounts as appropriate.

Recommend to the Commission Board any amendments of the financial policies.

Review the plans and reports of the National Audit Office and management responses to any proposals.

Approval of the process of appointment of an internal audit service for the Commission.

Agreement of the strategic and annual internal audit plans.

Review the reports of the internal audit service and management responses to any proposals.

Approval of any proposals for the purchase of non-audit services from contractors who provide audit services.

Approval of the Whistleblowing Policy.

Approval of the Anti-fraud Policy.

Approval of the Anti-bribery Policy.
 

Remuneration and Human Committee

Decision/duty

Approve the framework for the total benefits package (remuneration and employee benefits) for all staff of the Electoral Commission (including the Executive Team)

Recommend to the Board the remuneration of the Chief Executive, if different from the framework applying to all other staff, together with decisions (recommendations) relating to the Chief Executive’s contract terms, remuneration and any bonus.

Review the on-going appropriateness and relevance of the total benefits framework and propose amendments to the Board as appropriate.

In determining frameworks and policies for the total benefits package, take into account that:

  • members of staff should be provided with appropriate incentives to encourage enhanced individual and collective performance in a fair and responsible manner
  • members of staff should be rewarded for their individual contributions to the success of the Commission
  • the Commission must observe its obligations under PPERA

Approve significant changes to organisational structure and/or overall staff terms and conditions of employment and any impact of the change such as termination of contracts

Review an annual report to the Committee of any terms, or payments made on termination of employment to ensure that failure is not rewarded and that the duty to mitigate loss is fully recognised. The Chair of the Committee will be notified in advance of making such terms and payments (e.g. settlement agreements).

Request any reports or surveys which the Committee deems necessary to help it fulfil its obligations, for example salary benchmarking reports or information about remuneration in other bodies.

Recommend to the Board any changes to the fee for the Independent Adviser to the Audit and Risk Committee. It is anticipated that any increase will be in line with that awarded to Commissioners.

Recommend to the Board the composition and membership of the Appointment Panel for recruitment of the Independent Advisor/Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Support to the Chair in the recruitment of the Chief Executive, including recommending to the Board the composition and membership of the Appointment Panel for recruitment of the Chief Executive.

Report annually to the Board on the work of the Committee.

To act as an advisory group as required on such matters as:

  • the overall approach and scope of the HR strategy particularly relating to organisational design, significant restructuring or change programmes
  • major trade union or industrial relations issues affecting the whole Commission
  • organisational development relating to the beliefs, values, culture and effectiveness of the Commission

Decisions/duties delegated by the Board to the Chief Executive and decisions/duties of the Chief Executive as accounting officer

Chief Executive

Decision/duty

All responsibility for the day-to-day management of the Commission. Where a matter is not specifically reserved to the Board, or a sub-committee, the Chief Executive has authority to act subject to the following conditions:

  • any relevant approved Commission policy shall be complied with
  • any expenditure shall be within the agreed budget

The Board authorises the Chief Executive to appoint other members of staff of the Commission to act on the Chief Executive’s behalf. Delegations should be recorded in an Executive Scheme of Delegation.

Accounting officer

Decision/duty

Approval of the policy for payment of Commissioner fees and travel and subsistence claims (annually, as part of the review of the Corporate Governance Framework).

The accounting officer has personal responsibility for:

  • regularity and propriety
  • selection and appraisal of programmes and projects
  • affordability and sustainability
  • value for money
  • management of opportunity and risk
  •  learning from experience
  • accounting for the organisation’s financial position and transactions

The accounting officer must personally sign within the annual report and accounts

  • the statement of financial position
  • the performance report (management commentary)
  • the governance statement
  • the remuneration report

the annual accounting officer’s certificate confirming his satisfaction with the administration of pensions

And, having been satisfied that they have been properly prepared to reflect the business of the organisation, must personally approve:

  • voted budget limits
  • the associated Estimates Memorandum

The Chief Executive as Accounting Officer or the Director of Finance and Corporate Services may authorise employee severance payments which fall outside of the Civil Service Compensation Schemes, subject to advance notice to the Chair of the Remuneration and HR Committee, and an annual report to the Committee of any such payments.

When the accounting officer is absent and cannot readily be contacted, another senior member of staff should deputise. If a significant absence is planned, the accounting officer, or in their absence the Director of Finance and Corporate Services, may invite the Speaker’s Committee to appoint a temporary acting accounting officer.

Last updated: 19 October 2021
Next review: 30 March 2022