Ashington Town Council as a public body is responsible for its own finances. It is required to make arrangements for the proper administration of its financial affairs and to ensure that one of its officers has this responsibility. The officer whose job it is to oversee the finances of the Council is referred to as the Responsible Financial Officer (RFO). At Ashington, the Executive Officer, Sarah Eden is the RFO.
The Council must work within a legal framework that is specified within the Accounts and Audit Regulations and it must ensure that its business is conducted in accordance with the law and proper standards.
Good governance, accountability and transparency are essential and a cornerstone to improving public services. The Council must ensure that public money is safeguarded, properly accounted for, and used economically, efficiently, and effectively.
We are required to complete an Annual Governance and Accountability Return each year. This is legislated in the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014. Electors are entitled to inspect the Council’s accounts, during a set period during the year. For information pertaining to your rights, click on the link Local Authority Accounts ‘A summary of your rights’.
The Audit Commission continually monitor the performance of the external auditors, assessing the quality of their work and ensuring they carry it out in compliance with their statutory obligations. The Smaller Authorities Audit Appointments Limited (SAAA) have appointed Mazars as our external auditors for 2022/23. They can be contacted at:
Smaller Authorities External Audit Team, Mazars LLP
Ashington Town Council is also required to appoint an Internal Auditor who will monitor and review the arrangements in place to ensure the proper conduct and effectiveness of our financial affairs. Our internal auditor is Mrs Susan Saunders.
The Council must have an adequate system of internal control and risk management. This review is an integral part of continually improving governance and accountability. The Council is required to publicly report the outcome of the review of its accounts and to make its accounting statements and other documents available for public inspection.The results of the External Audit are available to view on the website and on request, this is in the form of an Annual Return, different to the tax return that is completed by most organisations. The Annual Return is completed in June and usually returned in September, five months after the end of the financial year. During this period, members of the public are invited to look at the council’s accounts, however, residents may at any time ask to see the council’s accounts and questions relating to spending can always be put to the Executive Officer/RFO.
As the Accounts and Audit Regulations require a physical ‘wet ink’ signature on the original AGAR, the Council is not able to fully comply with Accessibility Regulations. The National Audit Office are aware that the two pieces of legislation are not compatible, so please be aware that scanned documents are not fully compliant.
ANNUAL GOVERNANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY RETURN 2022/23
Issues Arising (if any)
Action Plan (if required)