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Guidance notes on completing Part 3 of the Annual Governance and Accountability Return 2019/20 The authority must comply with Proper Practices in completing Sections 1 and 2 of this Annual Governance and Accountability Return. Proper Practices are found in the Practitioners’ Guide* which is updated from time to time and contains everything needed to prepare successfully for the financial year-end and the subsequent work by the external auditor. Make sure that the Annual Governance and Accountability Return is complete (no highlighted boxes left empty), and is properly signed and dated. Where amendments are made by the authority to the AGAR after it has been approved by the authority and before it has been reviewed by the external auditor, the Chairman and RFO should initial the amendments and if necessary republish the amended AGAR and recommence the period for the exercise of public rights. If the AGAR contains unapproved or unexplained amendments, it may be returned and additional costs will be incurred. The authority should receive and note the annual internal audit report if possible before approving the annual governance statement and the accounts. Use the checklist provided below to review the Annual Governance and Accountability Return for completeness before returning it to the external auditor by email or post (not both) no later than 30 June 2020. Do not send the external auditor any information not specifically requested. However, you must inform your external auditor about any change of Clerk, Responsible Financial Officer or Chairman, and provide relevant email addresses and telephone numbers. Make sure that the copy of the bank reconciliation to be sent to your external auditor with the Annual Governance and Accountability Return covers all the bank accounts. If the authority holds any short-term investments, note their value on the bank reconciliation. The external auditor must be able to agree the bank reconciliation to Box 8 on the accounting statements (Section 2, page 5). An explanation must be provided of any difference between Box 7 and Box 8. More help on bank reconciliation is available in the Practitioners’ Guide*. Explain fully significant variances in the accounting statements on page 5. Do not just send a copy of the detailed accounting records instead of this explanation. The external auditor wants to know that you understand the reasons for all variances. Include complete numerical and narrative analysis to support the full variance. If the external auditor has to review unsolicited information, or receives an incomplete bank reconciliation, or variances are not fully explained, additional costs may be incurred. Make sure that the accounting statements add up and that the balance carried forward from the previous year (Box 7 of 2019) equals the balance brought forward in the current year (Box 1 of 2020). The Responsible Financial Officer (RFO), on behalf of the authority, must set the period for the exercise of public rights. From the commencement date for a single period of 30 consecutive working days, the approved accounts and accounting records can be inspected. Whatever period the RFO sets it must include a common inspection period – during which the accounts and accounting records of all smaller authorities must be available for public inspection – of the first ten working days of July. The authority must publish the information required by Regulation 15 (2), Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015, including the period for the exercise of public rights and the name and address of the external auditor before 1 July 2020.
Annual Governance and Accountability Return 2019/20 Part 3 Local Councils, Internal Drainage Boards and other Smaller Authorities*
Completion checklist – ‘No’ answers mean you may not have met requirements All sections
Section 1 Section 2
Sections 1 and 2
Internal Audit Report
Have all highlighted boxes have been completed?
For any statement to which the response is ‘no’, has an explanation been published?
Has an explanation of significant variations from last year to this year been published? Has the bank reconciliation as at 31 March 2020 been reconciled to Box 8? Has an explanation of any difference between Box 7 and Box 8 been provided?
Have all highlighted boxes been completed by the internal auditor and explanations provided?
Has all additional information requested, including the dates set for the period for the exercise of public rights, been provided for the external auditor?
Trust funds – have all disclosures been made if the authority as a body corporate is a sole managing trustee? NB: do not send trust accounting statements unless requested.
Has the authority’s approval of the accounting statements been confirmed by the signature of the Chairman of the approval meeting?
Yes No
*Governance and Accountability for Smaller Authorities in England – a Practitioners’ Guide to Proper Practices, can be downloaded from www.nalc.gov.uk or from www.ada.org.uk