Parish Councils’ accounting procedures and financial records of the council are determined by the Clerk/Responsible Financial Officer(RFO) in accordance with the Accounts and Audit Regulations, appropriate guidance and proper practices.
Internal & External Audit and Completion of the Annual Return.
On a regular basis, at least once in each quarter, and at each financial year end, a member other than the Chairman shall be appointed to verify and sign bank reconciliations (for all accounts) produced by the Clerk/RFO and any exceptions reported to the Finance Committee.
The RFO shall complete the annual statement of accounts, annual report, and any related documents of the council contained in the Annual Return (as specified in proper practices) as soon as practicable after the end of the financial year and having certified the accounts shall submit them and report to the council within the timescales set by the Accounts and Audit Regulations.
The council shall ensure that there is an adequate and effective system of internal audit of its accounting records, and of its system of internal control in accordance with proper practices.
The internal auditor shall be appointed by and shall carry out the work in relation to internal controls required by the council in accordance with proper practices. The internal auditor shall:be competent and independent of the financial operations of the council;
report to council in writing, or in person, on a regular basis with a minimum of one annual written report during each financial year;
to demonstrate competence, objectivity and independence, be free from any actual or perceived conflicts of interest, including those arising from family relationships; and
have no involvement in the financial decision making, management or control of the council. For the avoidance of doubt, in relation to internal audit the terms ‘independent’ and ‘independence’ shall have the same meaning as is described in proper practices.
The Internal auditor must complete the Internal Audit section of the Annual Return and sign the form.
The Annual Return is put forward to the Parish Council for Approval at an ordinary Parish Council Meeting and the form is them signed by the Chairman and the Clerk/RFO.
The Annual Return is then sent to the nominated external auditor. The Clerk/RFO shall make arrangements for the exercise of electors’ rights in relation to the accounts including the opportunity to inspect the accounts, books, and vouchers and display or publish any notices and statements of account required by Audit Commission Act 1998, or any superseding legislation, and the Accounts and Audit Regulations.
The RFO shall, without undue delay, bring to the attention of all councillors any correspondence or report from internal or external auditors.
Notification of the comments of the External Auditor are usually communicated to the Parish Council in September/October.
Copies of the Current and past Annual Returns can be obtained from the Parish Clerk.