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0 votes
So at tonight's FC I advised that for expenditure of the Public's Money, we need it decided at Committees not Panels because our SO and Consituition has not been amended so that this is decided at Panels (which produce no paperwork).
I literally quoted in print as well to ALL councillors ahead of time and people said it was my opinion despite my quoting the The Act and the Transparency Code. I know that Dave the Clerk even provided links. These were all ignored and I was advised by the chair "that's a matter of opinion. It's your opinion that Panels cannot make recommendations and decisions about money."
Panels are making decisions about Grants, etc with NO PAPERWORK given at FC. I literally cut and pasted advice on here. The Clerk is being bullied by some councilors and is scared I think. Please if anyone can provide the exact wording and exact Acts and sentence on the Transparency Code that shows we need all the paperwork to look at for FC (Panels and basically being used as Committees with oral updates with no paperwork for approval of lots of money). I need to explain it to a council with very little legal training that literally just makes it up as Tey go along.
by (1.1k points)

5 Answers

+1 vote

The answer may lie in your Council's own policies and procedures.  If you're using the NALC model documents, Standing Order 17b states that "All payments by the Council shall be authorised, approved and paid in accordance with the law, proper practices and the Council’s financial regulations."

The model Financial Regulations include the following paragraphs:-

5.8. In respect of grants a duly authorised committee shall approve expenditure within any limits set by council and in accordance with any policy statement approved by council. Any Revenue or Capital Grant in excess of £5,000 shall before payment, be subject to ratification by resolution of the council.

6.2. Following authorisation under Financial Regulation 5 above, the council, a duly delegated committee or, if so delegated, the Clerk or RFO shall give instruction that a payment shall be made.

The issue for you is that your panel isn't duly authorised. If it was, you'd have a piece of paper in your hand telling you what they can or can't do on your behalf.

If this situation persists, write to the internal auditor at the end of March expressing your concerns.

by (53.3k points)
+1 vote

I think what is happening in your council amounts to a breach of the Accounts & Audit Regulations 2015 or the Local Audit (Smaller Authorities) Regulations 2015(b);.  However I understand why you want to be able to quote a defintive article from the appropriate legislation which asserts the need for any expenditure to be resolved via a recorded council meeting. I will post later if I find something to that effect.

by (35.4k points)
I read this as SittingBull's issue being that members are not being provided with paperwork in connection with grant applications.  I believe it is quite legal for a panel to make recommendations but is must be the council that makes the decision.  As I said before, it is not unusual for a panel to review applications and then submit a recommendation to council for approval.  Council and only Council, acting as a collective body, makes the decision unless that decision has been delegated to a committee.  Please  note a committee is not a panel.  Committees must meet in public so the requirement for expenditure decisions to be made in a public meeting still exist. If councillors are not provided with the information they need to make a decision, they don't make a decision until that information is provided (whether in paper format or otherwise).
+1 vote

Section 6 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, says an authority is a ‘smaller authority’ if the higher of the authority's gross income for the year and its gross expenditure for the year does not exceed £6.5 million. For the purposes of the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015, a smaller authority may also be referred to as a Category 2 authority’. this will include local councils (parish and town councils), parish meetings,

Those regulations also say:  Signing and approval of statement of accounts for Category 2 authorities

(1) The responsible financial officer for a Category 2 authority must, on behalf of that authority—
(a) in a case where the authority has prepared a record of receipts and payments, sign and date that record, and confirm that they are satisfied that it properly presents that authority’s receipts and payments for the financial year to which the record relates; or
(b) in any other case, sign and date the income and expenditure account and statement of balances, and confirm that they are satisfied that they present fairly—
(i) the financial position of the authority at the end of the financial year to which they relate; and
(ii) that authority’s income and expenditure for that financial year.
(2) When the responsible financial officer has complied with paragraph (1), a Category 2 authority must, in the following order—
(a) consider the statement of accounts by the members meeting as a whole;
(b) approve the statement of accounts by resolution; and
(c) ensure the statement of accounts is signed and dated by the person presiding at the meeting at which that approval is given.

by (35.4k points)
+1 vote
I think they may soon find it is their own, not taxpayer, money they spent as they acted "ultra vires" without any right to spend public money. As it is a process breach, someone should threaten - and pursue a judicial review of the spending decision process.
by (1.3k points)
+1 vote

Looking again at the Accounts & Audit Regulations 2015, it seems clear to me that your council's responsible financial officer (also the clerk?) must prepare a signed and dated record of expenditure and receipts.   Further to that, said statement of accounts must be considered and approved by the Council as a whole - not a panel.  And the statement of accounts is also to be signed and dated by the person presiding at the meeting at which that approval is given. The act doesn't state the frequency which this must be done, but common sense should suggest that you don't do this for the entire financial year in March, but do it regularly so that a huge volume isn't left over to be looked at in one go.

by (35.4k points)
Thank you everyone. The Panels decide things and then we vote for it at FC without thr relevant paperwork. We are a Town Council, so I don't think I can use the Transparency Code for Small Parishes or whatever it's called. The people, including who chaired the meeting said all that paperwork isn't needed, it's my opinion. That is what I have a problem with.
I quote laws but the laws don't say "Pabels cannot decide this" so they don't get it
The law says "a Category 2 authority must, in the following order—
(a) consider the statement of accounts by the members meeting as a whole;
(b) approve the statement of accounts by resolution; and
(c) ensure the statement of accounts is signed and dated by the person presiding at the meeting at which that approval is given."
 It is pretty clear that approval is in the gift of all council members at a minuted meeting ultimately, not a panel.
Consideration can mean asking for evidence of the processes that were used to approve grants, and being able to view receipts if necessary prior to resolving them.. Such evidence can be included in agenda papers. On a practical level, you can entrust this to the Finance Committee in the first instance but not to a panel that fails to record it's assessments.
Thank you. We still have a Policy and Resources committee but they think its my opinion that we should have not have grants decided at a Grants Panel (then returned to FC to recommend EOTH NO FINANCIALS) with no paperwork enclosed, a Youth Panel (not met yet), a Sub-Staffing Panel (where they do the Town Clerks appraisal and deal with Staffing issues, such as complaints etc BUT HAVE NO PAPERWORK). They also have a Grievance Panel, Christmas Lights Panel and are SEEKING TO CREATE MORE. HOW DO I CONVINCE THEM THIS IS REQUIRED? It is so logical to me but they refuse to listen (because they abolished Committees and made them into Panels).
Make a Freedom of Information request for the minutes or any meeting notes of these panels. When you don;t get them, report your council to the external auditor.  It is likely they will tick all the yes boxes in part 3 of the AGAR for 2021-22.  Your report should stipulate that they made a false declaration in the AGAR with respect to
We maintained throughout the year an adequate and  effective system of internal audit of the accounting  records and control systems.  &
We took all reasonable steps to assure ourselves  that there are no matters of actual or potential
  non-compliance with laws, regulations and Proper Practices that could have a significant financial effect on the ability of this authority to conduct its business or manage its finances.
The evidence that these are false will be whatever you gat back (if anything) from the FOI I suggest.  If they won't accept the view of the EA then I don't know will make them change their ways!
Thank you very much!

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