Systems and procedures
6.1.1 Good systems and procedures are essential to the effective management and administration of the Council’s financial affairs. This includes:
- Accounting The main accounting system provides the prime source of financial data for management accounts, statutory accounts and government returns. It is essential that this system complies with legislation and proper accounting practice and that all information is recorded accurately, completely and in a timely manner, and that any errors detected promptly and rectified.
- Income Effective systems are necessary to ensure that all income due is collected, receipted, recorded and banked properly. Where possible income should be collected in advance to improve cash flow and avoid costs of debt collection. Debts should only be written off once all reasonable avenues have been exhausted or where it would prove uneconomical to pursue.
- Expenditure May only be incurred where budgetary provision is available and must comply with the Council’s contract procedure rules and approved payment processes. Purchase orders must be raised to ensure that the expenditure is recorded as a commitment in the Council’s main accounting system.
- Banking All transactions through the Council’s bank accounts must be properly processed, recorded and reconciled.
- Treasury management and the Pension Fund Effective strategies must be maintained for the investment of cash balances and for borrowing to fund the Capital Programme.
- Taxation Effective systems must be in place to ensure that all tax liabilities and obligations are properly reported and accounted for and that losses, fines and penalties are avoided.
- Asset management The Council’s assets must be properly recorded, safeguarded from loss/harm and utilised effectively, and any disposals undertaken in a controlled manner.
- Insurance Appropriate insurance cover is necessary to protect the Council from financial claims arising from unforeseen events such as damage to property or injury to employees or to the public.
- Recharges and internal trading accounts The Council is required to allocate all of its back-office costs to service areas in compliance with accounting codes of practice.
6.2 The Section 151 Officer is responsible for the operation of the council’s accounting systems, the form of accounts and the supporting financial records. Any changes made by directors and managers to the existing financial systems or the establishment of new systems must be approved by the Section 151 Officer. However, directors and managers are responsible for the proper operation of financial processes in their own directorates.
6.3 Any changes to agreed procedures by directors and managers to meet their own specific service needs shall be agreed in advance with the Section 151 Officer.
6.4 Directors and managers should ensure that their staff receive relevant financial training.
Income and Expenditure
6.5 It is the responsibility of the directors and managers to ensure that a proper scheme of delegation has been established and is operating effectively. It should identify staff authorised to act on behalf of directors and managers or that of Cabinet, in respect of
- Placing orders together with the limits of their authority, within the precepts of good procurement practices and budgetary provision;
- Payments for goods received;
- The raising of income;
- The collection of income and the annual writing off of bad debts.
The Council is responsible for approving procedures for the writing off debts as part of its overall control framework of accountability and control.
6.6 The Section 151 Officer is responsible for advising on all taxation issues that affect the council maintaining the council’s tax records, making all tax payments, receiving tax credits and submitting tax returns by their due date.