To receive and consider report 18/09 of the Head of Finance.
The Committee received and considered report 18/09 of the Head of Finance which sought approval of the Statement of Accounts for 2008/09. The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2003 required approval of the 2008/09 Statement of Accounts by 30 June 2009. This power had been delegated to the Committee.
It was noted that the Statement of Accounts provided information on how the Council had used its financial resources. It was prepared following the end of the financial year on 31 March 2009. Following the Committee’s approval, the Statement of Accounts would be audited by the external auditor and would be made available for public inspection from 23 July 2009. The accounts needed to be published by 30 September 2009, together with any certificate, opinion or report given by the external auditor.
The Committee was asked to approve the Statement of Accounts as an accurate record of the Council’s financial transactions during the year and of the balances at the end of the year. It was noted that the Committee was not being asked to scrutinise why budgets were either under or overspent, other than to satisfy itself that in-year transactions and year-end balances were accurate. To assist the Committee, Members had been invited to a separate question and answer session on the Statement of Accounts held the previous week.
Tabled at the meeting was a set of amended accounts with the changes highlighted and the amendments explained. The Committee considered these in detail. It was suggested that an amendment should be made to note 9 of the Statement of Accounts in the section covering officer emoluments. This should clarify that the senior management structure had changed and that 50% of the cost of higher paid senior employees listed in the note was being recharged to South Oxfordshire District Council and vice-versa.
Members congratulated the Officers on completing the accounts in time for the deadline. Some Members felt that the Council was put under unnecessary pressure by the tight Government deadlines.
In answer to a question from one Member, it was reported that the Council had followed instructions from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy on how to deal with the investment the Council had in the Icelandic bank, Landsbanki, which had collapsed. The Statement of Accounts estimated that 95% of the Council’s investment would be recovered.
Members asked that the third column heading in the table on page 32 of the Statement of Accounts should be changed to read 2007/08.
It was noted that the debtors total had increased to £3m. It was reported that this was not due to a rise in bad debts, (an area in which the Council had made good progress over the past year) but mostly related to a large Government grant that had not been received by 31 March.
In answer to a question from one Member, the Chief Finance Officer assured the Committee that the Council had sufficient reserves to cover the £700k error in the General Fund balance referred to earlier in the meeting (minute AG.13 refers). He agreed to consider whether the reference to “strong and sustainable” in the foreword to the Statement of Accounts needed to be reworded in September once the Council’s position became clearer. This would largely depend on the level of savings which could be achieved over the next two months.
It was proposed by the Chair and by 8 votes to nil, it was
that the Statement of Accounts for 2008/09 be approved for audit.