Financial Regulations

Combs Parish Council Financial Regulations

1. General

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 the Council 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 for 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 Clerk has been appointed as RFO for this council and these regulations will apply accordingly. The RFO, acting under the direction of the Council, shall administer the Council’s financial affairs in accordance with proper practices. The RFO shall ensure the Council’s accounting control systems are observed and that the accounting records 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 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.

1.6 In these financial regulations the term proper practice or proper practices shall refer to guidance issued in Governance and Accountability in local Councils in England and Wales – a Practitioners Guide which is published jointly by NALC /SALC.

2. Annual Estimates (Budgets)

2.1 Detailed estimates of all receipts and payments including the use of 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 January each year and shall fix the Precept to be levied for the ensuing financial year. 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 year.

3. 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 council having considered fully the implication 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.

3.4 The Clerk 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 £200. The Clerk shall report the action to the Council as soon as practicable thereafter.

3.5 Unspent provisions in the revenue budget shall not be carried forward to a subsequent year unless placed in an earmarked reserve by resolution of the council.

3.6 No expenditure shall be incurred in relation to any capital project and no contact 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 with 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 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 adequate and effective system of internal audit of the Council’s accounting, financial and other operations in accordance with proper practices. Any officer 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 explanations 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 competent and independent of the operations of the Council, shall report to 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 or 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 annually 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 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 account in accordance with the schedule referred to in paragraph 5.2 or in accordance with paragraph 6.4, shall be signed by two members of Council.

5.4 To indicate agreement of the details shown on the cheque or order for payment with the counterfoil and the invoice or similar documentation, the signatories shall each also initial the cheque counterfoil.

6. Payment of Accounts

6.1 All payments shall be effected by cheque drawn on the Council’s bankers.

6.2 All invoices for payment shall be examined, verified and certified by the Clerk. The Clerk shall satisfy him/herself that the work, goods or services to which the invoice relates shall have been received, carried out, examined and approved.

6.3 The RFO shall examine invoices in relation to arithmetic accuracy and shall analyse them to the appropriate expenditure heading. The Clerk shall take all steps to settle all invoices submitted, and which are in order, at the next Council Meeting.

6.4 If a payment is necessary to avoid a charge of interest under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 and the due date for payment is before the next scheduled Meeting of Council, where the Clerk and RFO certify that there is no dispute or other reason to delay payment, the Clerk may take all steps necessary to settle such invoices provided that a list of payments shall be submitted to the next appropriate meeting of Council.

6.5 The Council will not maintain any form of cash float. All cash received must be banked intact. Any payments made in cash by the Clerk (e.g for postage or minor stationery items) shall be refunded on a regular basis, at least quarterly.

7. Payment of 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 shall be made in accordance with payroll records and the rules of PAYE and National Insurance currently operating, and salaries shall be as agreed by council.

7.2 Payment of salaries and payment of deductions from salary such as may be made for tax, national insurance, pension contributions, may be made in accordance with the payroll records and on the appropriate dates stipulated in employment contracts, provided that each payment is reported to and ratified by the next available Council Meeting.

8 Loans and Investment

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 effected in the name of the Council, after obtaining any necessary borrowing approval. Any application for borrowing approval shall be approved by Council as to terms and purpose. The terms and conditions of borrowing 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. Income

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 charges to be made for work done, services rendered or goods supplied shall be agreed 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.

9.4 Any sums found to be irrecoverable and any bad debts shall be reported to the Council and shall be written off in the year.

9.5 All sums received on behalf of the Council shall be banked intact as directed 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 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 VAT Act 1994 section 33 shall be made at least annually.

10 Orders for Work, Goods & Services

10.1 An official order or letter shall be issued for all work, goods and services unless a formal contract is to be prepared or an official order would be inappropriate. Copies of orders shall be retained.

10.2 Order books shall be controlled by the RFO/Clerk.

10.3 All members and Officers are responsible for obtaining value for money at all times. An officer 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 or more quotations or estimates from appropriate suppliers.

10.4 The RFO shall verify the lawful nature of any proposed purchase before the issue of any order, and in the case of new or infrequent purchases or payments, the RFO shall 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. Contracts

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) and (iv) below.

i. for the supply of gas, electricity, water, sewerage and telephone services.

ii. for specialist services such as are 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 (in excess of this sum the RFO/Clerk shall act after consultation with the Chairman and Vice Chairman 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 £50,000 in value for the supply of goods or materials or for the execution of works or specialist services other than such goods, materials, works or specialist services as are excepted as set out in paragraph (a) the Clerk shall invite tenders from at least three firms to be taken from the appropriate approved list.

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. Each tendering firm shall be supplied with a specifically marked envelope in which the tender is to be sealed and remain sealed until the prescribed date for opening tenders for that contract.

e. All sealed tenders shall be opened at the same time on the prescribed date by the Clerk in the presence of at least one member of Council.

f. If less than three tenders are received for contracts above £50,000, 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. When it is to enter into a contract less than £50,000 in value for the supply of goods or materials or for the execution of works or specialist services other than such goods, materials, works or specialist services as are excepted as set out in paragraph (a) the Clerk/RFO shall obtain three quotations; where the value is below £1,000 and above £100 the Clerk/RFO shall strive to obtain three estimates. Otherwise regulation 10.3 above shall apply.

h. The Council shall not be obliged to accept the lowest or any tender quote or estimate.

12. Insurance

12.1 Following the annual risk assessment (per Financial Regulation 17), the RFO shall effect all insurances and negotiate all claims on the Council’s insurers.

12.2 The Clerk/RFO shall keep a record of all insurances effected by the Council and the property and risks covered thereby and annually review it.

12.3 The RFO shall keep a record of all insurances effected by the Council and the property and risks covered thereby and annually review it.

12.4 The RFO shall be notified of any loss liability or damage or of any event likely to lead to a claim, and shall report these to Council at the next available meeting.

12.5 All appropriate employees of the Council shall be included in a suitable fidelity guarantee insurance which shall cover the maximum risk exposure as determined by the Council.

13. Risk Management

13.1 The Council is responsible for putting in place arrangements for the management of risk. The Clerk/RFO shall prepare for approval by the Council, risk management policy 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.

13.2 When considering any new activity, the Clerk shall prepare a draft risk assessment including risk management proposals for consideration and adoption by the Council.

14. Revision of Financial Regulations

14.1 It shall be the duty of the Council to review the Financial Regulations of the 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.

Adopted by Combs Parish Council on 8th December 2014