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What are the correct procedures to be followed by Parish Councils when conducting financial transactions?

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1. Is it good practice or law that all financial transactions [which are not highly confidential and need to be agreed in camera] should be agenda items and discussed and agreed at a formally convened council meeting which the public is able to attend.

2.  If a financial transaction is sanctioned between formal meetings should it be confirmed and minuted at the next public meeting [unless it was an in camera decision]?  Should this apply to any decisions taken by the council between meetings?

3.  Is the internal auditor able to pass the accounts if any payments are not supported by a relevant minute of either a public or in camera meeting?
by (250 points)

3 Answers

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Question 1 Yes it is good practice and a legal requirement.  For Question 2 decisions should not normally be made between formal meetings, unless the Standing Orders delegate it to somebody specific. Question 3 depends on how thoroughly the Internal Auditor does their job. Some might check a certain selection of payments and if they comply, assume all will comply. Certain councils might append a list of all transactions to the agenda and minutes and the council could resolve to block approve them all, in which case the IA will claim they have an audit trail for an entire months worth
by (27.2k points)
I agree with Graeme’s reply but would add that the Internal Audit is a joke as it only skims the surface
In my experience a lot of Parish Councils consider that the Internal Audit proves everything is fine and this leads to complacency
To prove my point about Audits a quick search reveals recent frauds against Parish Councils of £18,000, £36,000 and £83,000
Where can we find the recent frauds online please?
I just searched using “ parish council clerk fraud “ some involved Clerks who managed multiple parishes
It would be useful to the detail the National Audit Office used to do that but alas no more
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Would agree with Jules on all points made. The councils financial regulation policy should cover all of the points raised. The internal auditor is of course under the control and supervision of the council and usually under the control of the finance committee. If an internal auditor is failing in their required duty or not meeting requirements then it is for the council to remedy the matter.

I am sorry to have to say that these days too many councillors shirk away from their duty to the community which includes fiscal prudence preferring whatever makes life easy for THEM. This is why such things as fraud occur because of a cavalier attitude to public money, but hey it seems to be endemic in all sectors of public office these days. We need an urgent return to old values on duty and integrity.
by (13.2k points)
0 votes
Thank you all for your helpful input.
by (250 points)

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