A report from the Section 151 Officer is attached.
Appendix A attached.
Appendix B attached.
Sam Evans presented a report highlighting the Council’s compliance with the Financial Management Code issued by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).
It was explained that the Financial Management Code (FM Code) is designed to support good practice in financial management and to assist local authorities in demonstrating their financial sustainability.
For the first time the FM Code sets out the standards of financial management for local authorities
It was explained that there are six overarching principles on which the FM code is based:-
a. Organisational leadership – demonstrating a clear strategic direction based on a vision in which financial management is embedded into organisational culture.
b. Accountability – based on medium-term financial planning that drives the annual budget process supported by effective risk management, quality supporting data and whole life costs.
c. Financial management is undertaken with transparency at its core using consistent, meaningful and understandable data, reported frequently with evidence of periodic officer action and elected member decision making.
d. Adherence to professional standards is promoted by the leadership team and is evidenced.
e. Sources of assurance are recognised as an effective tool mainstreamed into financial management, including political scrutiny and the results of external audit, internal audit and inspection.
f. The long-term sustainability of local services is at the heart of all financial management processes and is evidenced by prudent use of public resources
The code was completed as a self-assessment exercise undertaken internally and was seen as good practice as it gives the opportunity for self reflection.
The updated assessment had been carried out and was appended to the report at appendix A and set out Bury Council’s current position.
It was explained that the finance team will focus on the actions identified with a number of these being undertaken on the conclusion of the Finance Restructure and transformation including:
· Completion of the finance restructure as per timetable and ensure good appointments to any vacancies
· Support development for all staff and accreditation through professional accounting bodies
Further actions to ensure compliance:
· A programme of Budget holder and Member education and training has commenced but will need to continue and be developed further.
· System enhancements are being reviewed to improve the budget monitoring abilities of budget holders alongside training.
· The development of improved financial monitoring and reporting, working with services to link this with activity and outcomes.
· The review of income and debt recovery for the authority with a clear plan of improvement and reviews.
· Work is currently under way to expand the use of benchmarking into other directorates.
· A review of reserves was undertaken as part of the 2021/22 accounts process but a further in-depth review will be undertaken over the summer of 2022/23 to understand the ability to add to the smoothing reserve that was created as part of the 2022/23 budget setting process
· Review of timeline to ensure reporting is undertaken in real time enabling Executive team and Departmental Leadership teams to respond in a timely manner
It was proposed that the self assessment would be kept as a live document and would be reported to the Audit Committee biannually.
That the level of compliance with the CIPFA Financial Management Code be noted.
That the issues that require further development be noted.