In our Parish, as with all small parishes, the Clerk doubles as the Responsible Financial Officer, in charge of all things financial. A Cash Book is kept recording receipts and payments which is checked against monthly bank statements. At every meeting spending is monitored by councillors – that is against the Budget and as cheques signed. These balances and amounts are recorded in the minutes. The Allotments accounts from part of the Parish Council accounts at the present time but are recorded independently.
The work of the Parish Council is funded primarily by the parish precept which is collected annually alongside council tax. The precept is supplemented from reserves. Once per year the precept is set – that is the local tax payable by households which is added to the Milton Keynes Council Tax Bill (rates).
Budget Setting and Precept Calculation
Parish councils, irrespective of their size, have a statutory duty to prepare an annual budget. The budget process:
- Results in the council setting the precept for the following year.
- Gives the Clerk overall authority to make spending commitments in line with the decisions of the council.
- Enables progress monitoring during the year by comparing actual spending against planned spending.
The budget is one of the most important annual tasks that the Council must undertake and is required as part of ‘proper practices’ set out in the Practitioners’ Guide. It is not lawful to set a precept unless a budget has been prepared and approved.
The ‘precept’ is a balancing figure, referred to in legislation in England as ‘the council tax requirement’ after taking into account projected expenditure, other estimated income and any transfers to or from reserve.
A budget proposal is put to the Council in November/December by the Clerk as its Responsible Financial Officer to help Councillors decide the precept for the following year. It shows plans for expenditure and also income other than the precept and includes a precept calculation.
A budget monitoring document is presented to the Councillors at least quarterly throughout the accounting year so they can assess progress against the planned budget for receipts and payments to date.
Precept and Banding Calculator
FULL BREAKDOWN BY BAND
The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 sets out a new audit framework for local public authorities which are currently covered by the Audit Commission system. Under the new framework, smaller authorities with an annual turnover not exceeding £25,000 will be exempt from a routine external audit. Instead of an audit, these smaller authorities will be subject to the new transparency requirements laid out in the Code. This will enable local electors and ratepayers to access relevant information about the authorities’ accounts and governance.
In April 2015 it became mandatory for all small authorities to comply with the transparency code
The code requires certain information to be published on a publicly accessible (free of charge) website. This information is as follows:
- all items of expenditure above £100
- end of year accounts (annually)
- annual governance statement (annually)
- internal audit report (annually)
- list of councillor or member responsibilities (annually)
- the details of public land and building assets (annually)
- Minutes, agendas and meeting papers of formal meetings (minutes within a month of the meeting and agendas no later than 3 days prior to the meeting date)
The following is an extract from the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2003: Para 6 (as amended periodically) relating to internal audit:
“A relevant body shall maintain an adequate and effective system of internal audit of its accounting records and of its system of internal control in accordance with the proper internal audit practices, and any officer or member of that body shall, if the body requires:
- Make available such documents of the body which relate to its accounting and other records as appear to that body to be necessary for the purpose of the audit; and,
- Supply the body with such information and explanation as that body considers for that purpose.”
Our appointed internal auditors are Auditing Solutions Ltd. Their consultants can demonstrate over 100 years combined experience of both external and internal audit, and business consulting, offering a comprehensive internal audit service in line with the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2003, as amended periodically.
Under the new Transparency Code for Smaller Authorities, Old Woughton Parish Council is not required to have an external audit as the annual turnover does not exceed £25K.
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