Each Full Council meeting has a finance report. This presents the current state of Council bank accounts and investments, as well as a section showing how current spending compares to the budgets allocated. Finally there is a listing of all proposed expenditure to be agreed, and recent receipts.
The precept is the money taken from local residents to finance the Parish Council’s operations. It is set each year following discussions over what budgets are required. The precept takes into account reserves built up, so the budget and precept figures are not usually the same. On 8/1/2020 we agreed the finance figures for 2020/21. We have set the precept for this year at £85.06 per Band D property for the year, a rise of 3.7% or 6p per week. Over the last seven years the annual increase is 2.25% on average, roughly the same as the inflation figure. You can see the approved budget and precept figures on the minutes of the January 2020 meeting.
Councils are supposed to make available all expenditure over £500. We try to be more transparent with our accounts, and list all expenditure, though we do collate salary figures for reasons of confidentiality. The income and expenditure figures for 2019-20 (Q1-3) are here.
Council accounts are audited in two ways. We have an internal auditor (currently Mr Michael Ruston, in his fifth year), who is appointed by Council to look at the accounts with an independent eye, and check that our financial risk-management strategy is sound. At the end of each year we have to submit our accounts, and a document showing that we have abided by relevant legislation, to an external auditor. This is now Littlejohn LLP. We are required to publish these statements at the time, and the public have a right to inspect the accounts and make representation to the auditor if they wish. Documents about the progress of this process are also published.
The audit process for 2018/19 is now complete. Council approved the signing of the form, which was submitted to them by the Clerk as Responsible Financial Officer – it had previously been signed by the Internal Auditor. The paperwork has now been returned without comment by the External Auditor, meaning they are entirely happy with our financial recording.
We are required to publish three documents:
Notice of Conclusion of Audit which outlines how residents can get copies of the audited accounts.
Figures and Governance Forms which are documents we submitted to the Auditor.
External Auditor’s report 18/19 which is the formal signing off of our accounts by Littlejohn.