1.1. These financial regulations govern the conduct of financial management by the Council and may only be amended or varied by resolution of the Council. The Council is responsible in law for ensuring that its financial management is adequate and effective and that it has a sound system of financial control which facilitates the effective exercise of the Council`s functions, including arrangements for the management of risk and the prevention and detection of fraud and corruption. These financial regulations are designed to demonstrate how the Council meets these responsibilities.
1.2. The Responsible Financial Officer (RFO) is a statutory office and shall be appointed by the Council. The RFO for this Council has been appointed and is at present, The Clerk to the Council, and these regulations will apply accordingly. The RFO, acting under the policy direction of the Council, shall administer the Council`s financial affairs in accordance with proper practices. The RFO shall determine on behalf of the Council its` accounting records, and accounting control systems. The RFO shall ensure that the accounting control systems are observed and that the accounting records of the Council are maintained and kept up to date in accordance with proper practices.
1.3. The RFO shall produce financial management information as required by the Council.
1.4. At least once a year, prior to approving the Annual Return, the Council shall conduct a review of the effectiveness of its system of internal control which shall be in accordance with proper practices.
1.5. In these Financial Regulations, references to the Accounts and Audit Regulations shall mean the Regulations issued under the provisions of Section 27 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 and then in force.
1.6. In these Financial Regulations the term “proper practice” or “proper practices” shall refer to guidance issued in The Governance and Accountability in Local Councils in England and Wales – A Practitioner`s Guide which is published jointly by NALC and SLCC and updated from time to time.
2.0 ANNUAL ESTIMATES (BUDGET):
2.1. Detailed estimates of all receipts and payments, including the use of any reserves, and all sources of funding for the year shall be prepared each year by the RFO in the form of a budget to be considered by the Council.
2.2. The Council shall review the budget not later than the end of November each year and shall fix the Precept to be levied for the ensuing financial year (1st April to 31st March). The RFO shall issue the precept to the billing authority and shall supply each member with a copy of the approved budget.
2.3. The annual budgets shall form the basis of financial control for the ensuing financial year (1st April to 31st March).
2.4. The Council shall consider the need for and shall have regard to a year forecast of Revenue and Capital Receipts and Payments which may be prepared at the same time as the annual budget.
3.0. BUDGETARY CONTROL:
3.1. Expenditure on revenue items may be incurred up to the amounts included for that class of expenditure in the approved budget.
3.2. No expenditure may be incurred that will exceed the amount provided in the revenue budget for that class of expenditure. During the budget year and with the approval of the Council having considered fully the implications for public services, unspent and available amounts may be moved to other budget headings or to an earmarked reserve as appropriate.
3.3. The RFO shall regularly provide the Council with a statement of receipts and payments to date under each heading of the budgets comparing actual expenditure to the appropriate date against that planned as shown in the budget. These statements are to be prepared at least at the end of each financial quarter.
3.4. The Clerk and/or the RFO, in consultation with the Chair of the Council, may incur expenditure on behalf of the Council which is necessary to carry out any repair, replacement or other work which is of such extreme urgency that it must be done at once, whether or not there is any budgetary provision for the expenditure, subject to a limit of £500.00 (Five hundred pounds). The Clerk and/or RFO shall report the action to the Council as soon as is practicable thereafter.
3.5. Unspent provisions in the revenue budget shall not be carried forward to a subsequent year unless placed in a earmarked reserve by resolution of the Council.
3.6. No expenditure shall be incurred in relation to any capital project and no contract entered into or tender accepted involving capital expenditure unless the Council is satisfied that the necessary funds are available, or the requisite borrowing approval has been obtained.
3.7. All capital works shall be administered in accordance to the Council`s Standing Orders and Financial Regulations relating to contracts.
4. ACCOUNTING AND AUDIT:
4.1. All accounting procedures and financial records of the Council shall be determined by the RFO in accordance with the Accounts and Audit Regulations.
4.2. The RFO shall complete the annual financial statements of the Council, including the Council`s Annual Return, as soon as practicable after the end of the financial year (31st March) and shall submit them and report thereon to the Council.
4.3. The RFO shall complete the Accounts of the Council contained in the Annual Return (as supplied by the Auditor appointed from time to time by the Audit Commission) and shall submit the Annual Return for approval and authorisation by the Council within the timescales set by the Accounts and Audit Regulations.
4.4. The RFO shall ensure that there is an adequate and effective system of Internal Audit of the Council`s accounting, financial and other operations in accordance with proper practices. The Clerk or Member of the Council shall, if the RFO or Internal Auditor requires, make available such documents of the Council which appear to the RFO or Internal Auditor to be necessary for the purpose of the Internal Audit and shall supply the RFO or Internal Auditor with such information and explanation as the RFO or Internal Auditor considers necessary for that purpose.
4.5. The Internal Auditor shall be appointed by and shall carry out the work required by the Council in accordance with proper practices. The Internal Auditor, who shall be qualified or competent and independent of the operations of the Council, shall report to the Council in writing, or in person, on a regular basis with a minimum of one annual written report in respect of each financial year. In order to demonstrate objectivity and independence, the Internal Auditor shall be free from any conflicts of interest and have no involvement in the financial decision making, management or control of the Council.
4.6. The RFO shall make arrangements for the opportunity for inspection of the accounts, books, and vouchers and for the display or publication of any Notices and Statements of Account required by the Audit Commission Act 1998 and the Accounts and Audit Regulations.
4.7. The RFO shall, as soon as practicable, bring to the attention of all Councillors any correspondence report from the Internal or External Auditor, unless the correspondence is of a purely administrative matter.
5. BANKING ARRANGEMENTS and CHEQUES:
5.1. The Council`s banking arrangements, including the Bank Mandate, shall be made by the RFO and approved by the Council. They shall be regularly reviewed for efficiency.
5.2. A schedule of the payments required, forming part of the agenda for the meeting, shall be prepared by the RFO and, together with the relevant invoices, be presented to the Council. If the schedule is in order it shall be authorised by a resolution of the Council and the detail shown in the minutes of the meeting.
5.3. Cheques drawn on the bank can be signed by any one signatory of the agreed signatories appointed at each year`s Annual General Meeting. All other payments in relation to invoices received for goods/services or other such payments, including staff wages/salaries, and any transfers required from the Council`s Reserve Account can be paid via Internet Banking. (The Council have agreed to authorise the RFO and one Councillor (in the absence of the RFO) to use Internet Banking for the above stated purposes.
5.4. To indicate agreement of the details shown on any cheques or order for payment, the counterfoil/copy of the order and relevant invoices, shall be presented to the Council.
6. PAYMENT OF ACCOUNTS:
6.1. All payments shall be affected by internet banking, direct debit or cheque, by the RFO (see 5.3. above) or other order drawn on the Council`s bankers.
6.2. All invoices for payment shall be examined, verified and certified by the Clerk and/or the RFO. The Clerk and/or RFO shall satisfy himself/herself that the work, goods or services to which the invoice relates shall have been received, carried out, examined and approved.
6.3. The Clerk and/or RFO shall examine invoices in relation to arithmetic accuracy and shall analyse them to the appropriate expenditure heading. The RFO shall take all steps to settle all invoices submitted, and which are in order, within seven (7) days of receipt and report the payments at the next Council meeting.
6.4. If payment is necessary to avoid a charge to interest under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998, and the due date is for payment before the next scheduled meeting of the Council, where the RFO in consultation with the Chair certify that there is no dispute or other reason to delay payment, the Clerk and/or RFO may take all necessary steps to settle such invoices provided a list of such payments shall be submitted to the next appropriate meeting of the Council.
7. PAYMENT OF WAGES/SALARIES:
7.1. As an employer, the Council shall make arrangements to meet fully the statutory requirements placed on all employers by PAYE and National Insurance legislation. The payment of all salaries/wages shall be made in accordance with payroll records and the rules of PAYE and National Insurance currently operating. All salaries and wages shall be agreed by the Council.
7.2. Payment of salaries/wages and payment of deductions from these salaries/wages such as tax, national insurance and pension contributions, may be made in accordance with the payroll records and on the appropriate dates stipulated in employment contacts, provided that each payment is reported to and ratified by, the Council at the next available meeting.
8. LOANS and INVESTMENTS:
8.1. All loans and investments shall be negotiated in the name of the Council and shall be for a set period in accordance with Council policy.
8.2. The Council shall consider the need for an Investment Policy which, if drawn up, shall be in accordance with relevant regulations, proper practices and guidance. Any policy shall be reviewed at least annually.
8.3. All investments of money under the control of the Council shall be in the name of the Council.
8.4. All borrowings shall be affected in the name of the Council, after obtaining any necessary borrowing approval. Any application for borrowing approval shall be approved by the Council as to terms and purpose. Any terms and conditions of borrowings shall be reviewed at least annually.
8.5. All investment certificates and other documents relating thereto shall be retained in the custody of the RFO.
9.1. The collection of all sums due to the Council shall be the responsibility of and under the supervision of the RFO.
9.2. Particulars of all changes to be made for work done, services provided or goods supplied shall be agreed, at least annually by the Council, notified to the RFO and the RFO shall be responsible for the collection of all accounts due to the Council.
9.3. The Council will review all fees and charges annually, following a report of the Clerk and/or the RFO.
9.4. Any sums found to be irrecoverable and any bad debts shall be reported to the Council and written off in the year.
9.5. All sums received on behalf of the Council shall be banked intact as directed by the RFO. In all cases, all receipts shall be deposited with the Council`s bankers with such frequency as the RFO considers necessary.
9.6. The origin of each receipt shall be entered on the paying-in slip.
9.7. Personal cheques shall not be cashed out of the money held on behalf of the Council.
9.8. The RFO shall promptly complete any VAT Return that is required. Any repayment claim due in accordance with the VAT Act 1994, Section 33, shall be made at least annually coinciding with the financial year end.
10. ORDERS FOR WORK, GOODS and SERVICES:
10.1. All Elected Members are responsible for obtaining value for money at all times. The Council when issuing an official order shall ensure, as far as reasonable and practicable, that the best available terms are obtained in respect of each transaction, usually by obtaining three (3) or more quotations or estimates from appropriate suppliers, subject to any de minimis provisions in Regulation 11.1 below.
10.2. The Clerk and/or RFO shall verify the lawful nature of any proposed purchase before the issue of any order, and shall, in the case of new or infrequent purchases or payments, ensure that the statutory authority shall be reported to the meeting at which the order is approved so that the minutes can record the power being used.
11.1. Procedures as to contracts are laid down as follows:
a) Every contract shall comply with these financial regulations, and no exceptions shall be made otherwise than in an emergency, provided that these regulations shall not apply to contracts which relate to items (i) & (vi) below:
(i) for the supply of gas, electricity, water, sewerage, telephone and broadband services;
(ii) for specialist services such as provided by solicitors, accountants, surveyors and planning consultants;
(iii) for work to be executed or goods or materials to be supplied which consist of repairs to or parts for existing machinery or equipment or plant;
(iv) for work to be executed or goods or materials to be supplied which constitute an extension of an existing contract by the Council;
(v) for additional audit work of the External Auditor up to an estimated value of £250.00 (two hundred & fifty pounds). If in excess of this amount the Clerk and/or the RFO shall act after consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Council;
(vi) for goods or materials proposed to be purchased which are proprietary articles and/or are only sold at a fixed price;
(b) Where it is intended to enter into a contract exceeding £5,000.00 (five thousand pounds) in value for the supply of goods or materials or the execution of works or specialist services other than such goods, materials, works or specialist services, the Clerk and/or the RFO shall invite tenders from at least three (3) firms to be taken from the appropriate approved list. The appropriate approved list shall be drawn up by the Clerk and approved by the Council.
(c) When applications are made to waive financial regulations relating to contracts to enable a price to be negotiated without competition the reason shall be embodied in a recommendation to the Council.
(d) Such invitation to tender shall state the general nature of the intended contract and the Clerk shall obtain the necessary technical assistance to prepare a specification in appropriate cases. The invitation shall in addition state that tenders must be addressed to the Clerk in the ordinary course of post or email. In the ordinary course of post each tendering firm shall be supplied with specifically marked envelope in which the tender is to be sealed and remain sealed until the prescribed date for opening the tenders for that contact. In the course of email the Clerk will print off the tender and seal it within an envelope.
(e) All sealed tenders shall be opened at the same time on the prescribed date by the Clerk in the presence of at least two (2) Members of the Council.
(f) If less than three (3) tenders are received for contracts above £5,000.00 or if all the tenders are identical the Council may make such arrangements as it thinks fit for procuring the goods or materials or executing the works.
(g) The Council shall not be obliged to accept the lowest or any tender, quote or estimate.
12. PAYMENTS UNDER CONTRACTS for BUILDING or OTHER CONSTRUCTION WORKS:
12.1. Payments on account of the contract sum shall be made within the time specified in the contract by the Clerk and/or RFO upon authorised certificates of the architect or other consultants engaged to supervise the contract (subject to any percentage withholding as may be agreed in the particular contract).
12.2. Where contracts provide for a payment by instalments the Clerk and/or the RFO shall maintain a record of all such payments. In any case where it is estimated that the total cost of work carried out under a contract, excluding agreed variations, will exceed the contract sum of 5% or more a report shall be submitted to the Council.
12.3. Any variation to a contract, or addition to, or omission from a contract, must be approved by the Council and the Contractor, in writing, the Council being informed where the final cost is likely to exceed the financial provision.
13. ASSETS, PROPERTY and ESTATES:
13.1. The Clerk shall make appropriate arrangements for the custody of all title deeds of properties owned by the Council. The Clerk shall ensure a record is maintained of all properties owned by the Council, recording the location, extent, plan, reference, purchase details, nature of interest, tenancies granted, rents payable and purpose for which held on accordance with Accounts and Audit Regulations.
13.2. No property shall be sold, leased or otherwise disposed of without the authority of the Council, together with any other consents required by law, save where the estimated value of any one item of tangible movable property does not exceed £50.00 (fifty pounds).
13.3. The Clerk shall ensure that an appropriate and accurate Register of Assets and Investments is kept up to date. The continued existence of tangible assets shown in the Register shall be verified at least annually, possibly in conjunction with a health and safety inspection of assets.
14.1. Following the annual risk assessment, the Clerk shall affect all insurances and negotiate all claims on the Council`s Insurers and report the outcome to the Council.
14.2. The Clerk shall give prompt notification to the Council of all new risks, properties, machinery or vehicles which require to be insured and any alterations affecting existing insurances.
14.3. The Clerk shall keep a record of all insurances effected by the Council and the property and risks covered thereby and annually review it.
14.4. The Clerk shall be notified of any loss liability or damage or of any event likely to lead to a claim, and shall report these to the Council at the next available meeting.
14.5. All appropriate employees of the Council, along with serving Members of the Council, shall be included in a suitable fidelity guarantee insurance which shall cover the maximum risk exposure as determined by the Council.
15.1. Where the Council is sole trustee of a Charitable body the RFO shall ensure that separate accounts are kept of the funds held on Charitable Trusts and separate financial reports made in such form as shall be appropriate, in accordance with Charity Law and legislation, or as determined by the Charity Commission. The RFO shall arrange for any audit or independent examination as may be required by Charity Law or any governing document.
16. RISK MANAGEMENT:
16.1. The Council is responsible for putting in place arrangements for the management of risk. The Clerk shall prepare, for approval by the Council, risk management statements in respect of all activities of the Council. Risk policy statements and consequential risk management arrangements shall be reviewed by the Council at least annually.
16.2. When considering any new activity, the Clerk shall prepare a draft risk assessment including risk management proposals for consideration and adoption by the Council.
17. REVISION of the FINANCIAL REGULATIONS:
17.1. It shall be the duty of the Council to review the Financial Regulations of said Council from time to time. The Clerk shall make arrangements to monitor changes in legislation or proper practices and shall advise the Council of any requirement for a consequential amendment to these Financial Regulations.
17.2. These Financial Regulations shall be reviewed at least annually and must be adopted by the Council at each year`s Annual General Meeting.