Hampshire County Council

Cabinet

Item 5

24 March 2003

Approval and publication of final accounts

Report of the County Treasurer

Contact: Nick Gibbins, ext 7544

1. Summary

1.1 This report reviews the changes required to the reporting of the County Council's final accounts to meet the Government's proposed timetable for earlier approval and publication of the accounts.

1.2 The following decision is sought:

2. Reason

2.1 To facilitate the inclusion of the accounts of the Pension Fund with an audit opinion in the Pension Fund Annual report and to prepare for the bringing forward of the statutory timetable for approval of the accounts in 2003/04, some changes to the previous reporting timetable are proposed.

3. Other options considered and rejected

3.1 None

4. Conflicts of interest declared by the decision maker or a member or officer consulted

4.1 Not applicable

5. Dispensation granted by the Standards Committee

5.1 Not applicable.

6. Reasons for the matter being dealt with if urgent

6.1 Not applicable.

Approved by: (signature) Date: (date of decision)

Councillor T K Thornber

 

Hampshire County Council

 

Cabinet

Item 5

 

24 March 2003

 

Approval and publication of final accounts

 

Report of the County Treasurer

Contact: Nick Gibbins, ext 7455

1. Introduction

1.1 The White Paper `Strong Local Leadership - Quality public services', published in December 2001, contained proposals to bring forward the statutory deadline for approval of the Statement of Accounts by a local authority, from 30 September to 30 June following the year end, to match the publication date for the Best Value Performance Plan. The publication deadline would similarly be brought forward from 31 December to 30 September. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has recently published revised draft Accounts and Audit regulations to give effect to this proposal.

1.2 Though the first stage in an incremental timetable to bring forward approval and publication deadlines does not apply until 2003/04, this report proposes that some changes be made to existing reporting arrangements for 2002/03's final accounts, partly as a `dry-run' for 2003/04 and partly to enable audited accounts to be included in the Pension Fund annual report to the Annual General meeting.

2. Changes in approval and publication dates

2.1 The draft Accounts and Audit Regulations propose the following timetable for phasing in the requirement for earlier approval and publication of the accounts:

 

Approved by the Council

Publication

Currently

30 September

31 December

2003/04

31 August 2004

30 November 2004

2004/05

31 July 2005

31 October 2005

2005/06

30 June 2006

30 September 2006

2.2 As there are no member meetings in August, in practice this timetable requires approval of the Statement of Accounts to be brought forward from the end of September to the end of July in 2004. This would then leave a two year period to bring the process forward a further month, which should be assisted by the full roll-out of SAP. The biggest step is the change proposed in 2003/04 and, in order to prepare for earlier closure in 2003/04, consideration has been given to possible changes to the timetable for 2002/03.

3. Proposals for 2002/03

3.1 The main issues that need to be tackled in bringing forward the closure of the accounts are fairly clear. They include:

3.2 Nonetheless it would be desirable to check that all the issues and the action required to tackle them have been identified in 2002/03, on a `dry run' basis, in order to be confident of meeting the end of July deadline for approval of the accounts in 2003/04.

3.3 The key dates in the process of obtaining member approval of the final accounts and in preparing the statement of accounts in 2001/02 were as follows:

·

Executive member approval of service final accounts

-

11 to 19 July

·

Cabinet approval of final accounts

-

22 July

·

Preparation of formal statement of accounts

-

During August

·

Public inspection of the accounts

-

30 August to
19 September

·

Approval of Statement of Accounts by County Council

-

19 September

3.4 The main issues affecting the timetable for 2002/03 are:

3.5 Past practice has been to report to Executive Members first so that they can agree requests to the Cabinet in relation to the carry forward of over and underspendings for the Cabinet to consider in conjunction with the report on the County Council's overall final accounts. However this is not crucial to the process of obtaining approval for the final accounts, as any carry forward issues can be dealt with in the new financial year. The outline timetable set out in paragraph 3.5 allows for service final accounts to be reported to Executive Members where there are scheduled decision days immediately before Cabinet, but elsewhere assumes reporting of service accounts to Executive Members after they have been reported in a summarised form to the Cabinet.

3.6 The proposed outline timetable for 2002/03's accounts is as follows:

·

Final 2002/03 monitoring report to Cabinet

-

28 April

·

Executive member approval of service final accounts

-

20 June to 25 July

·

Cabinet approval of final accounts

-

23 June

·

County Council approval of Pension Fund accounts

-

24 July

·

Preparation of formal Statement of Accounts

-

31 July

·

Public inspection of the accounts

-

First three weeks in August

·

Approval of Statement of Accounts by the County Council

-

18 September

Recommendation

Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers

The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.

NB the list excludes:

Published works.

Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.

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