Smaller authorities FAQs

THIS SECTION HAS NOW BEEN UPDATED FOR 2019/20 TAKING INTO ACCOUNT CHANGES MADE TO THE AUDIT PROCESS AS A RESULT OF THE ONGOING CORONVIRUS CRISIS.

Who needs to complete an Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR)?
These regulations apply to all local government smaller authorities including:
  • Local councils (including parish, town, village and community councils and parish meetings
  • Internal drainage boards
  • Other smaller authorities such as charter trustees, port health authorities, conservation bodies, harbour boards and crematorium boards.
What are the timescales for submission of the AGAR?
Authorities must have approved and published accounts before the first working day of September (1st September 2020). The relevant part of the AGAR should be sent to Moore for audit by 31st August 2020.

As soon as the accounts are formally approved by the Council, via a virtual meeting, and all documents are signed by the relevant parties you can send us the AGAR along with the supporting documents necessary and the dates intended for the Notice of Public Rights Period.

We can then perform our review of the accounts and, once the Notice of Public Rights Period ends, and assuming no objections have been made, we can then sign off the audit. This will help make the process run efficiently during these difficult times.

What happens if the authority misses the deadline?
An additional charge of £40 plus VAT will be incurred if Moore is required to send a reminder to any authority (i.e. if returns are not received by 31st August 2020). 

Can an authority choose to have Limited Assurance Review even if the income or expenditure (VAT INCLUSIVE) is less than £25k?
Yes but note that the £25k threshold is based on gross amounts (VAT included).  While there is no requirement for authorities in this situation to have a Limited Assurance Review they may request one. 

In these circumstances the authority should not certify itself as exempt, i.e. not complete a Certificate of Exemption, but instead complete Part 3 of the AGAR 2019/20 and return it to Moore for review. 

The cost to the smaller authority for the review will be £200 + VAT.

What information do Smaller Authorities need to publish on their website?
In relation to the AGAR, smaller authorities are required to publish on their public website before 1 September 2020 the following information:

If completing Part 1
  • A copy of the Certificate of Exemption and Declaration of No Accounts
  • Annual Return Addendum which is found here 
If completing Part 2
  • Certificate of Exemption
  • Annual Internal Audit Report 2019/20 (recommended)
  • AGAR Section 1 – Annual Governance Statement 2019/20
  • AGAR Section 2 – Accounting Statements 2019/20
  • Analysis of variances
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Notice of the period for the exercise of public rights and other information required by Regulation 15 (2), Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015.
  • Name and address of the External Auditor
  • Annual Return Addendum which is found here 
If completing Part 3
  • Annual Internal Auditors Report 2019/20 (recommended)
  • AGAR Section 1 – Annual Governance Statement 2019/20
  • AGAR Section 2 – Accounting Statements 2019/20
  • A declaration that the accounts are as yet unaudited
  • Notice of the period for the exercise of public rights and other information required by Regulation 15 (2) Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015.
  • Name and address of the External Auditor
  • Annual Return Addendum which is found here
Additionally, in relation to AGAR Part 3 only smaller authorities are required to publish on their public website after conclusion of the exercise of public rights but before 1 December 2020 the following information:
 
  • AGAR Section 1 – Annual Governance Statement 2019/20
  • AGAR Section 2 – Accounting Statements 2019/20
  • AGAR Section 3 – The External Auditor Report and Certificate (if issued) together with a Notice of Conclusion of Audit.
  • Annual Return Addendum which is found here
It is recommended as best practice that you also publish the Annual Internal Audit Report to avoid any potential confusion by local electors and interested parties.

When is the Period for the exercise of Public Rights?
Following the update to regulations, the requirement for a ‘common’ inspection period has been removed. The requirement to hold a 30-working-day inspection period remains, but for 2019-20 authorities can commence the inspection period at any time, except it must commence no later than 1 September 2020, e.g. if the inspection period commences on 1 September 2020, the last day of the period will be 12 October 2020. This will allow authorities to produce their draft accounts and commence their inspection periods as soon as they are able. Please note that if the inspection period runs throughout August into September, an extra working day will be required due the bank holiday on 31 August 2020.

What happens if an elector wants to raise a question about the accounts?  
If an elector has a question about or wants to challenge any item on the accounts, you should direct them in the first instance to the National Audit Office (NAO) publication - Local Authority Accounts: A guide to your rights

More information about public interest reports can be found here.