MINUTES OF THE CHOPPINGTON PARISH COUNCIL MEETING HELD ON TUESDAY 22 JUNE 2021.
Cllr H Allsopp
Cllr K Grimes
Cllr A Iley
Cllr J Rowell
Cllr Vaughan (Chair)
Cllr L Watson
Mrs A Brindley, Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer and Mr D L Nicholson, Deputy Parish Clerk.
AGENDA PART 1
C024/21 1. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE.
Apologies were received from Cllr J Foster (ill health) and Cllr A Hart (A/L). The meeting accepted these as proper reasons for non-attendance.
C025/21 2. DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY AND OTHER REGISTERABLE INTEREST(s).
No declarations were submitted.
C026/21 3. TO RECEIVE AND ADOPT THE MINUTES OF THE PARISH COUNCIL MEETING OF 9 JUNE 2021.
The meeting agreed the minutes represented a true record of the meeting and should be signed as such by the Chairman, and placed in the public domain.
C027/21 4. MATTERS ARISING.
C028/21 5. APPROVAL OF YEAR END STATEMENTS AND ACCOUNTS FOR PRESENTATION TO EXTERNAL AUDIT.
5.1 The Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer reported that as a smaller authority with a gross income exceeding £25,000 the Parish Council must complete part 3 of the Annual Governance and Accountability Return at the end of each financial year.
5.2 The Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR) comprises 4 sections:
- Annual Governance Statement,
- Accounting Statements,
- Annual Internal Audit Report, and
External Auditor Report and Certificate.
The Parish Council completes 1 and 2 at this meeting. Our internal auditor completes no.3 (see appendix 1) and the external auditor no.4
5.3 The annual governance statement is a public report affirming that the Council is being conducted in accordance with the law, regulations and proper practices and that public money is safeguarded and properly accounted for. The Council responds to statements known as assertions. Guidance is issued by the Joint Panel on Accountability and Governance (JPAG). The Parish Clerk asked members to consider each assertion by turn.
Assertion 1 – Financial management and preparation of accounting statements
‘We have put in place arrangements for effective financial management during the year, and for the preparation of the accounting statements.’
Members agreed that the Parish Council has taken all required steps to satisfy the assertion; a RFO has been appointed; financial procedures are in place to record financial transactions; bank reconciliations are completed on a monthly basis and reviewed by members; a budget has been prepared and approved; arrangements are in place to manage investments and earmarked reserves appropriately; and, annual accounts are prepared in an accurate and timely manner.
Assertion 2 – Internal Control
‘We maintained an adequate system of internal control, including measures designed to prevent and detect fraud and corruption and reviewed its effectiveness.’
Members asserted the Parish Council has in place and follows Standing orders and Financial Regulations. These documents identify how the Council operates to safeguard public money, how the Council makes its financial transactions, how it manages risk, how it pays staff, and how fixed assets are maintained and secured. Members review these procedures and undertake regular internal examination of finances.
Assertion 3 – Compliance with laws regulations and proper practices
‘We took all reasonable steps to assure ourselves that there are no matters of actual or potential noncompliance with laws, regulations, and proper practices that could have a significant financial effect on the ability of this smaller authority to conduct its business or on its finances.’
Members asserted the Council has acted lawfully. When making decisions members receive advice from the proper officer who confirms legal authority and power to act.
Assertion 4 – Exercise of Public Rights
‘We provided proper opportunity during the year for the exercise of electors rights in accordance with the requirements of the Accounts and Audit Regulations.’
Section 25-27 of Local Government Accountability Act 2014 contain provisions giving interested person rights of inspection of accounts and records. In making this assertion members noted the Council makes its accounts accessible for 30 working days during which time there is a mandatory full 10-day period from beginning of July (although this has been extended for 2019/20 accounts), and throughout the year by arrangement.
The accounting statement is published on the website.
Assertion 5 – Risk Management
‘We carried out an assessment of the risks facing this smaller authority and took appropriate steps to manage those risks, including the introduction of internal controls and/or external insurance cover where required.’
Members asserted the Council has compiled and reviewed the assessment of risk, and maintains a risk register which records the identification of risk e.g. financial loss of money/damage to property, and management of risk e.g. through insurance, added security measures, internal controls (see attached Annual Statement of Risk, agenda item 17).
Assertion 6 – Internal Audit
‘We maintained throughout the year an adequate and effective system of internal audit of the accounting records and control systems.’
In making this assertion members noted the appointment of an internal auditor who undertakes an effective audit. The Responsible Finance Officer gives the internal auditor access to all documents and records, supplying any all required information and explanations.
Assertion 7 – Reports from Auditors
‘We took appropriate action on all matters raised in reports from internal and external audit.’
Members consider all reports from the internal and external auditors and resolve any actions that might be required.
Assertion 8 – significant events
‘We considered whether any litigation, liabilities or commitments, events or transactions, occurring either during or after the year-end, have a financial impact on this smaller authority and, where appropriate have included them in the accounting statements.’
In setting the budget and when authorising year end statements, the council consider any events occurring during the financial year (or after the year-end), that have consequences, or potential consequences, on the authority’s finances.
Members considered the effects of coronavirus. The Parish Clerk explained that at the special meeting on 18th March 2020 measures had been put in place to help the community during the pandemic, however due to government initiatives, Northumberland County Council measures and local efforts, Parish Council expenditure had been well within budget to date. Nor had the Council lost any significant income during lockdown. As such evidence suggests it will not have a significant financial impact on the authority and will not require inclusion on the accounting statements.
Assertion 9 – Trust Funds
5.4 Members considered the accounting statement for the year ended 31 March 2021, which contains restated figures for the financial year ending 31 March 2020. This amended those presented on 9 June 2021 following further consideration of non-council income.
- Having noted the completion of the annual internal report from the internal Auditor, members considered the annual governance statement and accounts.
- Members considered annual governance statement and determined that to the best of their knowledge and belief that they have satisfied their responsibilities in relation to assertions 1 to 8 inclusive.
- Members noted that section 9 of the statement was not applicable as the council does not act as the sole managing trustee of any local trust or similar body.
- Members received and approved the accounting statement and supporting documentation for the year ended 31 March 2021, noting restated figures and the reasons for such.
- The Chairman of the meeting and the Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer were authorised to sign the statements contained in the Parish Council’s annual return for the financial year ended 31 March 2021.
Agenda – Part 2. There were no matters referred from part 1 of the agenda for consideration.
There being no further business the meeting concluded at 11.00am
Appendix 1 Internal Auditor report