The Parish Council is open and transparent about the way it manages its finances. This page contains information on the way the Council protects its finances and what it has spent money on. The Council’s finances are monitored on a day to day basis by the Responsible Financial Officer or RFO (in our case, the RFO is the Parish Clerk).
The council appoints an internal auditor who assesses the Council’s compliance with relevant legislation; a further audit may need to be carried out by an external auditor (see below).
How the Parish Council maintains financial control
The Parish Council’s financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March in the following calendar year: on this page the phrase “the year” refers to the financial year.
Before the years starts: the Budget and the Precept
Before the start of the year, the parish council prepares a budget, which forecasts the types and amounts of expenditure and income throughout the forthcoming year.
The parish council receives the majority of its income through the precept, which is an annual sum of money collected with the Council Tax by Cheshire East Council. The precept is set by the parish council each November: for the financial year 2023-2024 it is £15,000, which corresponds to a Band D rate of £41.65 (using a Tax Base of 360.11 set by Cheshire East Council) — this document describes how the tax base is derived and used.
Control throughout the year
The RFO also maintains a register of the parishes’ fixed assets, that is, assets which are held for long-term use and are not likely to be converted quickly into cash, such as land, buildings, and equipment.
The Council reviews these assets and makes a risk assessment at the beginning of each Financial Year, and to protect the Parish Council against different types of losses the Council takes out appropriate insurance.
Throughout the year, the Parish Council’s finances are monitored by a committee of parish councillors.
After the year ends: the Internal and External Audits
The Local Audit & Accountability Act 2014 and the Accounts & Audit Regulations 2015 set out the responsibilities of all local councils in respect of their accounting and auditing procedures.
Each year, the Parish Council’s financial accounts and statements are examined by an independent Internal Auditor appointed by the Council.
The Council is also required to complete an Annual Return which includes the findings of the Internal Auditor, together with Governance Statements and Financial Statements.
As part of this process, the Parish Council must publish the unaudited Annual Return and must make arrangements for a period whereby interested persons can inspect the Council's accounts and related documents, for a period of 30 working days which must include the first 10 working days of July. If you are a registered local government elector (i.e. you appear on the electoral register for the area covered by the Parish Council) you can also ask questions about the accounts and object to them.
Every smaller authority in England that either received gross income or incurred gross expenditure exceeding £25,000 must send an Annual Governance and Accountability Return to an independent External Auditor (appointed by Public Sector Appointments Ltd) for a limited assurance review at the end of each financial year.
Smaller authorities where the higher of all gross annual income or gross annual expenditure does not exceed £25,000 and that meet the qualifying criteria as set out in the Certificate of Exemption are able to declare themselves exempt from sending the completed Annual Governance and Accountability Return to the external auditor.
Fixed asset register
The Parish Council has no borrowings and therefore there is no borrowing approval letter.
Members' allowances and expenses
No members other than the Chairman are awarded allowances. Members' expenses, when they arise, are approved in minutes of parish council meetings and recorded in receipts and payments (above).
In accordance with the Local Government Act 1972 a parish council may pay the chairman for the purpose of enabling him or her to meet the expenses of his or her office such allowance as the council thinks reasonable.
The Council has resolved to grant the Chairman an allowance of £250 for FY 2023 to 2024. The Chairman will present receipts and return any unspent allowance at financial year-end.