Addendum – Coronavirus Emergency Regulation changes
The Accounts and Audit (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020
Owing to the increasing impact of COVID19 MHCLG has made amended Regulations which extend the statutory audit deadlines for 2019-20 only for all Category 2 smaller authorities (town and parish councils, parish meetings, internal drainage boards and other authorities).
- The requirement for the public inspection period to include the first 10 working days of July has been removed
- Instead, smaller authorities must commence the public inspection period on or before 1 September 2020
- The AGAR must be approved and published by 31 August 2020 at the latest or may be approved earlier, wherever possible.
This means that the period for the exercise of public rights can now be held any time after the approval of the accounts and AGAR as long as it is commenced
on 1 September at the latest. Authorities should publish the dates of their public inspection period. If this is
significantly earlier or later than in previous years they should inform the public through their websites (where available) of the reasons why they are departing
from normal practice for 2020.
- The publication date for final, audited, accounts will move from 30 September to 30 November 2020 for all local authorities.
This is the date by which the Part 3 AGAR Sections 1, 2 and 3 including the completed External Auditor Report and Certificate must be published. This does not apply to an authority that has certified itself as exempt and submitted a Certificate of Exemption to the external auditor. The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020. In relation to the meetings needed to approve the accounts and AGAR, MHCLG has made separate Regulations to enable meetings to be held remotely, and to hold and alter the frequency and occurrence of meetings without the need for further notice. The provisions for remote meetings apply to all authorities EXCEPT Parish Meetings who must hold a public meeting and approve the AGAR before 31 August.
Budget, Accounts & Audit Arrangements
The Local Audit & Accountability Act 2014 and the Accounts & Audit Regulations 2015 set out the responsibilities of all local councils in respect of their accounting and auditing procedures.
Each year, the Council’s financial accounts and statements are examined by an independent ‘internal’ auditor appointed by the Council.
The Council is also required to complete an ‘Annual Return’ which includes the findings of the Internal Auditor, together with Governance Statements and Financial Statements. This Annual Return is then submitted to another independent ‘external’ auditor for examination.
As part of this process, the Council must publish the unaudited Annual Return and must make arrangements for a period in which interested persons can inspect the Council’s accounts and related documents. If you are a registered local government elector (i.e. you appear on the electoral register for the area covered by the Council) you can also ask questions about the accounts and object to them.
In due course (and by the 30th September each year) the Council must also publish a final copy of the audited Annual Return, once this is received back from the External Auditor after they have completed their examination.
Internal audit is a key component of the system of internal control. Its purpose is to review whether the systems of financial control and other controls over the activities of the council are adequate, effective, and in line with current regulations. Internal audit does not actively seek evidence of fraud, corruption, error or mistakes, but can assist the council in its responsibility for the prevention and detection of such occurrences.
The Internal Auditor is independent of the operations (financial control/management) of the Council and competent in the understanding of the law as applicable to Local Councils, of simple accounting and basic PAYE and VAT requirements.
Burley Parish Council has appointed Yorkshire Internal Audit as its Internal Auditor for this financial year. The scope of the internal audit is reviewed annually and agreed by the Council.