In accordance with the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, the Council has been classified as a ‘smaller authority’, in relation to its statutory accounting and audit arrangements, as its gross income and gross expenditure does not exceed £6.5 million.
A smaller authority is referred to as a ‘Category 2 Authority’ in the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015. Download a copy of the Accounts and Audit Regulations..
The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 set out a number of important statutory provisions regarding the financial management of local authorities including the specific requirements for the production, approval, audit and publication of annual accounts and governance statements.
Status as a smaller relevant body means that the Council, along with all other town and parish councils, is subject to different accounting and audit requirements to larger bodies such as principal councils.
The Town Council is required to prepare a statement of accounts and annual governance statement every year, via an Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR). Smaller bodies are also subject to the limited assurance audit regime.
The Annual Governance and Accountability Return must be prepared in accordance with ‘proper practices’.
The ‘proper practices’ in relation to financial management, governance and the preparation of accounting statements of smaller authorities are set out in ‘Joint Panel on Accountability and Governance Practitioners’ Guide’ which is produced annually by the Joint Practitioners Advisory Group (JPAG) and published by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC). Download and view NALC guidance on Accountability and Governance.
The Annual Governance and Accountability Return must be prepared and approved by the Council no later than 30th June each year.
The unaudited accounts must then be made available for public inspection for a statutory period of 30 days, commencing as soon as possible after the accounts are approved. During this period, members of the public have rights to inspect the accounts and make representations to the external auditor.
The Annual Governance and Accountability Return and various supporting records and information are checked independently by an external auditor who must issue an opinion that the accounts and governance statement have been prepared in accordance with the relevant statutory requirements and that they present a ‘true and fair view’ of the Council’s finances and governance arrangements.
The Council’s external auditor is currently Mazars LLP.
Following the issue of the audit certificate, the audited Annual Governance and Accountability Return must then be published by no later than the 30th September each year.
The Annual Governance and Accountability Return
The Annual Governance and Accountability Return includes the following documents:-
– Annual Governance Statement
– Accounting Statements
– Annual Internal Audit Report
The Annual Governance Statement sets out a number of statements or assertions in relation to good governance, financial management and internal control. The Council is required to provide a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to each assertion and is expected to have relevant evidence in place to support each ‘yes’ answer. It would also need to provide an explanation to the external auditor if it is not able to provide a ‘yes’ answer, including details of how the Council will address any identified weaknesses in its governance arrangements.
The Accounting Statements present, in accordance with proper accounting practices and in the format required by the Annual Return, the financial position of the Council for the financial year, including details of income, expenditure, opening and closing balances, fixed assets values, outstanding borrowing and cash and bank balances.
The Internal Auditor’s Report provides a summary of the work undertaken and assurances provided by the Council’s Internal Auditor during the year in relation to their review of the Council’s internal control arrangements, providing an opinion as to whether the Council has in place an effective system of internal control.
2021/22 Annual Governance and Accountability Return
The 2021/22 Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR) of the Council was approved at a Council Meeting on 15th June 2022.
The return was submitted to the Council’s external auditors along with various supporting records and information.
A copy of the audited 2021/22 Annual Governance and Accountability Return of the Council can be viewed via the link below (this document is a scan and therefore cannot comply with Accessibility Regulations):-
The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 and Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 confer a number of statutory rights for local electors in relation to the inspection of the Council’s annual accounting statements within the Annual Governance and Accountability Return.
A copy of the statutory notice of public rights in relation to the completion of the audit and the inspection of the 2021/22 Annual Governance and Accountability Return can be viewed via the links below:-
The various reports to the Council in relation to the approval of the accounting statements, annual governance statement, internal audit report and the required annual reviews of the effectiveness of the system of internal control and internal audit service can be viewed via the links below:-
As well as the Accounting Statements set out in Section 2 of the Annual Return, the Council is required to submit to the external auditors a number of documents in support of the information included in the accounting statements.
This includes a bank reconciliation, explanation of significant variances between this year and last year and a reconciliation between the year-end bank balances and the year-end balances and reserves.
A copy of the additional information submitted to the external auditor in support of the Annual Return can be viewed via the link below:-
Previous Years’ Annual Returns
A copy of the audited Annual Governance and Accountability Returns for the previous four years (from 2016/17 to 2020/21) can be viewed via the links below:-
Previous Years’ Statement of Accounts
Up until the end of the 2015/16 financial year, the Council was required to produce a full Statement of Accounts and was subject to a full external audit.
Detailed below are links to the Council’s audited Statement of Accounts for the previous eight financial years:-