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Can paper financial documents now be scanned and kept electronically instead?

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We're wondering if we can reduce the amount of paper we keep. What are the rules about retaining paper records for audit purposes?
by (170 points)

4 Answers

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If your question refers to invoices and receipts, I would say that scanned copies can replace paper copies. The supplier should be able to reference invoice and serial numbers against their own systems. Many suppliers use electronic invoices anyway, so these shouldn't be printed to hard copy unless justified.
by (31.8k points)
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Does your council have a publication scheme as that will tell you how long to keep things.  For example minutes need to be kept for ever and if you don't have enough storage space, perhaps your local archive centre will take them.
by (3.1k points)
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A good council should have a robust accounting system in place which should be electronic rather than being a paper leger. If your paper is hard copy output from such a system given to councillors as agenda papers then there is no reason to keep the paper outputs after the meeting. In such instances  the source output files were originally electronic. , so the electronic source file can be stored on a secure data server with backups. The only hard copies to be retained would need to be signed approved meeting minutes. You could scan the archive paper too, but the scanned records would need to be properly indexed and given accurate meta data or accompanied with a database to provide the appropriate index data.
by (31.8k points)
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NALC have a legal topic note on the subject - LTN40 (2016). Easy to find online if you don't have NALC access.

The ICO does a more general list of document retention rules - but probably more up to date that the NALC one.

A quick search on the subject will find lots of council policy documents that can be used as a model!
by (5.1k points)
Many thanks - I did search on the subject and came up with very little that addressed my specific point. My question really is do we have to retain the PAPER versions of these docs - or is electronic storage sufficient now? Documents such as the NALC paper assume paper and so don't address this issue head on.
The question is really about if electronic documents can be used in place of hard copy, not about how long they have to be stored.
True Graeme - much more succinct than me! Do you have a view?

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