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As a Parish Council we have a small grants policy which deals with ad hoc year round applications from local not for profit initiatives  .  That policy (and application form) is a bit like war and peace and goes into a lot of detail as to how such initiatives should be set up and  run.

We also have a couple of large grants which  we pay to our Community Centre and Youth Club i.e. organisations we have a direct knowledge of and indeed have several Councillors as trustees.  Having recently settled a lot of the historic  issues which marred the seamless payment of these large grants we now come to setting next year’s arrangements which I argue should be much more simpler than before.

But no, our RFO  has produced a new large grants policy which again is war and peace.  This is defended by the clerk as “Ah but this is public money and I must ensure that it is properly spent as per our Fin Regs”.  When I asked for what the Fin Regs said I got no reply .

Now I am all for proper control and monitoring but in our case the CC grant represents money paid for maintenance repairs as required by a lease ..  Each year the PC decides the amount we can afford and the recipient provides a list of works needed with estimates.  As the work is completed the recipient provides receipted invoices and the money is released .

Whilst this arrangement seems quite OK to me what are the arrangements our RFO is obliged to consider before expressing their approval i.e. to ensure public money is properly spent

The only bit I can find in Fin Regs
The council’s accounting control systems must include measures:

• that provide for the safe and efficient safeguarding of public money;

Now what precisely does that mean ?

Is the answer whatever Councillors decide ?
by (4.9k points)
edited by

3 Answers

0 votes
Whilst it may be helpful for the RFO to produce & propose a revised grants policy they cannot unilaterally implement it without council approval and must lay  out to council why it is a necessary proposal and how exactly it meets financial regulation requirements.

RFO is there to keep the accounts and if the Clerk as well then advise the council when matters are not in line with requirements and to carry out the instructions of council not make council policy.
by (27.0k points)
0 votes
When you say "the money is released" do you pay the Community Centre or the contractor?  I'm thinking of a potential conflict here between your financial regulations and VAT regulations.
by (53.3k points)
0 votes
No Cllr should have to ask the clerk what the financial regs say. They must be publicly accessible for ANYONE to read as per the ICO model publication scheme.
In the infamous words - read them and understand them!

You can then question which passage of FSOs are you referencing in this apparent justification case for this additional policy when it is presented to PC for approval….

As MM says - PC approves policy, clerk advises (not dictates)
by (21.3k points)
... and to add to RACs comment,  a) a copy of the standing orders, and financial regulations (and any other vital documents) should be forwarded to each councillor when they join the council , and b) these same documents should be regularly reviewed BY THE COUNCIL on a regular basis.

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