Accounting Procedure and the FOIA

Towards the end of the year you produce a spreadsheet based upon the current running costs and present this to the council who then have to decide if it wants to add or subtract items which have been previously discussed which the Clerk will need to have costed. Once this spreadsheet has been agreed by the Council, taking into account any cash in hand which is itemised on the previous years Bank Reconciliation, it becomes the budget on which the Precept is based.

Having set the budget for the forthcoming year the clerk can then set the categories for receipts and expenditure; in practice these categories change little and are only usually affected by major projects. This cash in hand will be found on the proceeding years Bank Reconciliation which shows how much money the council has and where it resides (which accounts).  If you add the Bank Reconciliation to the Assets Register you will find the true value of the council.

As the year progresses the clerk maintains, manually or electronically, an expenditure ledger and a receipts ledger which will show every transaction in each category. If, during the course of the year, the council needs to spend money urgently and the funds can be drawn from an alternative, less important category,  the matter has to be placed on the agenda and a virement agreed by the council before the money can be moved and spent. Sometimes this might call for an Extra-Ordinary meeting of the council to agree the virement if the matter is urgent however the meeting must still follow the statutory requirements in terms of timescales etc.

At the end of the financial year the receipts and expenditure are brought together on a single spreadsheet and, assuming no virements have taken place, that spreadsheet should be directly comparable to the budget/precept spreadsheet.

In many parishes the clerk is also the RFO (Responsible Financial Officer). The RFO presents the spreadsheets, bank reconciliation and the report of the internal auditor, together with their own report, to the council for adoption and this information is included in the Annual Parish Report which is produced by the chairman and presented to his own meeting – The Annual Parish Meeting.

The Parish Council Website should include (at least two years worth of):
The Precept Budget Spreadsheet
The Receipts and Expenditure Spreadsheet
Bank Reconciliation
The Annual Return signed off by the External Auditor

Also included on the website but within the Chairman’s Annual Report
A condensed version of the Receipts and Expendure spreadsheet
Bank Reconciliation
Report of the RFO
Report of the Internal Auditor

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