Transparency code for smaller authorities
This Code is issued to meet the Government’s desire to place more power into citizens’ hands to increase democratic accountability. Transparency gives local people the tools and information they need to hold local public bodies to account.
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 regime. Under the new audit framework smaller authorities, including parish councils, internal drainage boards, charter trustees and port health authorities, with an annual turnover not exceeding £25,000 will be exempt from routine external audit. In place of routine audit, these smaller authorities will be subject to the new transparency requirements laid out in this Code. This will enable local electors and ratepayers to access relevant information about the authorities’ accounts and governance.
The Government considers that publication of the items in this Code will provide the local electorate and ratepayers with a clear picture of the activities of these smaller authorities. Most of this information is already produced by the majority of smaller authorities with a turnover not exceeding £25,000, and the Government therefore considers that compliance with this Code will not place a significant burden on these authorities.
Information which should be published
Smaller authorities should publish:
a. all items of expenditure above £100
b. end of year accounts
c. annual governance statement
d. internal audit report
e. list of councillor or member responsibilities
f. the details of public land and building assets
g. Minutes, agendas and meeting papers of formal meetings
Items e. list of councillor or member responsibilities and f. the details of public land and building assets can be found under the heading “About the Council”. Item g. Minutes, agendas and meeting papers of formal meetings can be found under the heading Minutes and Agenda.
All items of expenditure above £100
Smaller authorities should publish the details of each individual item of expenditure above £100. Publishing a complete list of expenditure transactions will also meet this requirement. Expenditure information should be published for each individual spending transaction above £100 rather than each item bought.
For each individual item of expenditure above £100 the following information must be published:
a. date the expenditure was incurred,
b. summary of the purpose of the expenditure,
c. amount, and
d. Value Added Tax that cannot be recovered.
End of year accounts
Smaller authorities should publish their statement of accounts according to the format included in the Annual Return form. Publication of the relevant page of the completed Annual Return form will meet this requirement. The statement of accounts must be approved and signed by the Responsible Financial Officer and the Chairman of the meeting approving the statement of accounts.
The statement of accounts should be accompanied by:
a. a copy of the bank reconciliation for the relevant financial year,
b. an explanation of any significant variances (e.g. more than 10-15 percent, in line with proper practices) in the statement of accounts for the relevant year and previous year, and
Annual governance statement
Smaller authorities should publish their annual governance statement according to the format included in the Annual Return form. Publication of the relevant page of the completed Annual Return form will meet this requirement. The annual governance statement should be signed by the Chairman and Clerk of the smaller authority.
Internal audit report
Smaller authorities should publish their annual internal audit report according to the format included in the Annual Return form. Publication of the relevant page of the completed Annual Return form will meet this requirement. The internal audit report should be signed by the person who carried out the internal audit.
The above information will be found under each years sub heading.