Council Financial Documents
On this page you will find links to the financial information of the council. The council is transparent with regard to its spending as it is parishioners money that it is spending. Only two areas of the finance are generally kept confidential which are individual staff salaries and any contracts which are under negotiation. Staff salaries are available as a total. Any contracts are normally confidential during the negotiation or tendering phase however once awarded any contract and payment is available to the public.
The council works to a strict set of Financial Regulations. Each council has its own set however they are all based on the same national guidelines and have some elements which councils are not allowed to amend or remove. Some items in the standard regulations can be amended to reflect the councils structure or working methods. The Financial Regulations are reviewed on an annual basis both nationally and by the council itself. The link to our Financial Regulations is shown in the box to the left.
There is a very clear expenditure framework for the council. There are limited ways that the council decides expenditure which are:
- approval by Council, Committee and Sub-Committee.
- delegation of authority to an officer or an officer in consultation with one or more councillors.
- as a specific item in the council's budget
Each level has it's own spending limit. A committee can only authorise payments of up to £250 with the exception of Finance & Government committee which can authorise payments up to £5,000. Any payment above this has to go to Parish Council for approval. All expenditure has to applied to a specific budget and committees cannot go above the budget limit. This would be a matter for Parish Council who could either transfer funds between sections of the budget or designate a payment to come from reserves. This later would not normally be the case unless the was an unplanned expenditure required or an overspend in a particular area. These are in effect a form of deligated authority payments however there is a second type and this is when delegations are authorised (by the council) to an officer (Clerk/Deputy Clerk) with or without councillor consideration. Again there is always a limit on this, either in the existing delegations or a delegation set up for a specific purpose.
A decision to make expenditure will generally then lead to either quotes/estimates being obtained and/or an order being placed. There are specified levels where particular actions are required such as getting quotes rather than estimates and council will generally look to get three quotes or estimates. There are exceptions to this such as where the item being ordered ties into an existing network and then the council may get a quote from that provider but also do some quick checks to ensure that the existing contract is not leading to overcharging. The second is where there may be only a single/couple of providers of a product within a reasonable distance and then there is a justifiable reason for the liited number of quotes. When obtaining quotes/estimates the council will try to verify specifications in advance so that quotes can be judged against each other as fairly as possible however there can be situations where no one has the expertise to know what specs to set. Council then may contact other parish councils, SALC or the local principal authority to see if they have dealt with the same or similar concern and can provide information. Council, if possible, will also set out the judging terms for the deciding the best bid. This is rarely cost alone, it will also look at quality, carbon footprints/climate concerns, locality/sourcing. It may also consider the companies ethos and social engagement activities/policies. Where possible, the council has an ethos of locally sourced product or using local providers. Once a provider is agreed, then the order will be processed.
Once the orders arrive they are checked against the order and annotated. Once the invoice is received it is checked against the order and a control sheet completed and attached to the invoice. The control sheet will also note if there is any variance between the order and the invoice and any reason why. The control sheets then form the basis of the payment sheet which is at the heart of authorisation process at F&G. The RFO will generally explain the items on the payment list and answer any queries from councillors before councillors decide whether ot not to approve the payments. Councillors will also interrogate the RFO's report to look at items purchased under authorised delegatiom, payment cards & petty cash as well as any income and the balances of the accounts.
Once finance approves a payment or there is a delegation allowing payment, then the RFO will set up payments with the bank. This is a role which only staff can perform and the payment then needs to be authorised by two concillors. Those councillors will also view the controi sheet to verify that the payments match the invoice before they authorise the payments. Each month the RFO will carry out a reconciliation of the accounts and this is then checked and verified by the Bank Reconciliation Councillor who verifies the payments against the bank statements as well as opening and closing balances and spot checks the invoices to ensure that they do match. All of this is then reported back to the next F&G meeting and then onto Parish Council. At the end of each financial year the whole accounts are reconciled. The council normally employees the company who provide the accounting software to do the end of year shutdown with the Clerk. This is a time consuming process with many checks and balances to ensure that all information is accurate and correctly entered and provides all the paperwork which is submitted for internal and external audits. Many of the reports generated by the end of year are posted on this page.
Every year the council has to have it's accounts audited. This is a complex process as not only are the accounts themselves audited but all the council's procedures, minutes and policies are looked at by both an "Internal Auditor" and an "External Auditor". The Internal Auditor has to be qualified and is appointed by the council. They review all the accounts and budgets, and look at the website and information in the public domain and then visit and review documentation and record held at the council office and talk to the council staff. The Internal Auditor then produces a full report on their findings with any issues or any recommendations. They also complete a section of the Annual Governance and Accountability Form (AGAR) verifying that the information provided by the council on the form is correct and noting any issues of variances. All of this information is then sent off to the External Auditor who is appointed by the Governement. They then audit the documentation the has been forwarded to them and check on the website and then may contact the council with any questions that they might have before they finalise the audit.
Not only does the council go through an internal and external audit, we also have a councillor who acts as an Internal Controls Officer and checks that we are following our own rules and processes on a regular basis. All income and expenditure is approved by council (even if it is done under delegated authority) and is recorded in council minutes, which are published on the website. We also have a 30 day period each year, which we advertise, where you, as residents of the parish, can view the accounts. Additionally if you have any questions regarding the council's finances, please feel free to contact the Clerk who will try to provide you with the relevent information.