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Please review the relevant documents below.

The Accounts and Audit (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

Owing to the increasing impact of COVID19 MHCLG has made amended Regulations which extend the statutory audit deadlines for 2019-20 only for all Category 2 smaller authorities (town and parish councils, parish meetings, internal drainage boards and other authorities).

  • The requirement for the public inspection period to include the first 10 working days of July has been removed
  • Instead, smaller authorities must commence the public inspection period on or before 1 September 2020. Authorities are urged to commence this period as soon as possible
  • The AGAR must be approved and published by 31 August 2020 at the latest or may be approved earlier, wherever possible. This means that the period for the exercise of public rights can now be held at any time after the approval of the accounts and AGAR as long as it is commenced on 1 September at the latest.

Authorities should publish the dates of their public inspection period. If this is significantly earlier or later than in previous years, they should inform the public through their websites (where available) of the reasons why they are departing from normal practice for 2020.

  • The publication date for final, audited, accounts will move from 30 September to 30 November 2020 for all local authorities. This is the date by which the Part 3 AGAR Sections 1, 2 and 3 including the completed External Auditor Report and Certificate must be published. This does not apply to an authority that has certified itself as exempt and submitted a Certificate of Exemption to the external auditor. These authorities must publish their Certificate of Exemption by 31 August 2020.

SAAA does not intend to alter the official AGAR forms issued in March 2020 to reflect the changes in legislation, rather, SAAA has issued a single page addendum to highlight the changes and new dates. 

Signing and submitting the AGAR forms

There are no changes in the requirement for wet signatures on the AGAR.  PKF's understanding is that wet signatures need to be added to the AGAR in the same order as previous years and that the AGAR will need to be passed between the relevant individuals for signature.  Where individuals are self-isolating it is hoped that local assistance will be available to facilitate this.  

If smaller authorities are able to keep to the regular reporting timetable as much as is possible and practical by making use of their ability to hold virtual meetings, they are very much encouraged to do so.   

Link to audit pages of PKF Littlejohn including the full instructions for the audit process for all Parish Councils and Parish Meetings

Submission deadline

Please note that the submission deadline for the receipt of the approved AGAR and supporting documentation or the Certificate of Exemption (as appropriate) is Friday 31 July 2020.

If you are not able to meet this deadline please contact PKF Littlejohn

 to arrange an alternative submission date (subject to below) to avoid incurring the administrative charges. 

Non-submission will lead to chargeable chaser letters being issued (£40 plus VAT for all financially active smaller authorities).  It is important to note, however, that in a change to prior years:

  • no submission deadlines will be granted beyond 13 November;
  • it will only be possible to extend submission deadlines by a maximum of 4 weeks at a time providing sufficient justification explaining the need for the extension is given;
  • a statutory recommendation will be issued to all financially active non-responding authorities that fail to submit their documents by 13 November.  Statutory recommendations for non-response are charged at the standard fee rate depending on the authority’s expenditure banding and hence give rise to a minimum additional fee of £200 plus VAT. 

IMPORTANT:  If a financially active smaller authority is issued with a statutory recommendation (and/or a public interest report) for 2019/20 it will not be able to claim exemption from a limited assurance review for 2020/21, regardless of whether it meets all other criteria.  

If you are a Parish Meeting you will need to request a 4-week extension to your submission date as you are not able to hold a meeting under the current Government Covid 19 restrictions. Depending on circumstances further extension requests may be required.