Transparency Code for Smaller Authorities
The Government wishes to hand more power to the public by providing them with tools to be able to hold those Parish Councils to account, who have a turn over not exceeding £25,000 per financial year. (Turnover has been defined as the gross income and gross expenditure per year) and these Councils will be subject to the new transparency requirements of the new Transparency Code for Smaller Authorities. The new Code will require that Otley Parish Council is to make available by publishing, information regarding their accounts and governance by July 1st 2015.
The Government will then appoint an External Auditor/s to the relevant Councils, in order to comply with the public's right to call in the Councils accounts. The Councils will also be required to display the annual notice inviting the public to inspect the accounts.
Information to be Published Annually
All Items of Expenditure above £100
Each individual items of expenditure over £100
1. This should include the date that the expenditure was spent.
2. A summary of the purpose of the expenditure i.e. grass cutting or stationery.
3. The amount of money spent
4. The amount of VAT that cannot be recovered
Councils will not be required to publish copies of their books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers, receipts or any other related documents. However, these should be available for inspection by request in accordance with Local Government Act 1972 s226 (3).
End of Year Accounts
1. Publication of the statement of accounts. This can be a copy of the relevant page in the Annual Return Form. This should be approved and signed by the RFO and Chairman presiding at the meeting where the statement of accounts was approved
In addition the following items must also accompany the statement of accounts:
1. A copy of the bank reconciliation for that financial year
2. An explanation of any significant variances in the statement of accounts (defined as more than 10% -15%)
3. An explanation of any differences between 'balances carried forward' and 'total cash' and 'short term investments' if relevant
Annual Governance Statement
1. Parish Councils should publish their annual governance statement in the format included in the Annual Return
2. Publication of the relevant page with the Annual Return would satisfy this requirement
3. The annual governance statement should be signed by the Chairman and the Clerk
4. Detail any recommendations (weaknesses) with an explanation and how these will be addressed .i.e. the Fidelity Guarantee is insufficient, the Council will be raising the threshold in accordance to the Internal Auditors, suggested amount.
Internal Audit Report
1. The Internal Auditors Report should be published. The relevant page in the Annual Return will satisfy this requirement
2. The report should be signed by the Internal Auditor who carried out the audit
3. Any recommendations should be explained and how the council will address them
4. Where any recommendation is subject to an area of internal control yet to be addressed, the following information will be required: When the last audit took place and when the next one will be. If it is an area of internal control that is not required an explanation should be provided by the Council.
List of Councillor Responsibilities, including:
1. The names of all Councillors on the Parish Council
2. List of Committees and their purpose and functions, with the Committee Councillors names and also any non-members. It should also state each Committee's Chairman and Vice- Chairman
3. A list of Councillors appointed to other External Public Bodies, by the Council to represent it
Details of Public land and Building Assets
1. All land and building assets included on the Councils asset register. This can be by publishing the asset register in its entirety or an edited version just showing any land or buildings on it.
The information should include:
a. Its location (address or description of the location of any land or buildings)
b. Whether the Council owns, leases or custodian trustee of the land or building. If the Council manages any land or assets on behalf of a charity this will need to be included .i.e. manages a closed church yard for the Parochial Church Council
c. Date of the acquisition if known
d. Cost of the land or building (or proxy value)
e. What the land or building is being used for at the time of publishing
Information to be published more frequently than once per year
1. Relevant Parish Councils should publish their draft full council minutes and committee minutes not later than one month after the meeting
2. Agenda's should be published within three clear days of the Council or Committee meeting it relates to
Method of Publication
1. The data required by the Code should be published on a website that offers free public access
2. This can be the Councils or the relevant District/ Borough Authorities website
3. Any mistakes in any documents should be replaced with a revised version, with an explanation of what information has been corrected or added.