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Internal Financial Controls Report 2012-13
  1. REPORT. This report has been produced for Sedlescombe parish councillors and for the internal auditor of the 2012-13 accounts to show what steps have been taken by the Council during the year to meet the requirements of Sedlescombe Parish Council's financial regulations. The financial regulations were prepared in accordance with The Accounts and Audit Regulations 1996 as amended by The Accounts and Audit (England) Regulations 2011.

    1. It is no longer required for the effectiveness of the internal audit to be reviewed annually.
    2. Meetings of Finance Committee. Meetings were held on
      1. 26/06/12
      2. 16/10/12
      3. 04/12/12
      4. 11/12/12
      5. 26/03/13
  3. AUDIT
    1. The Finance Committee noted Mrs Alexander's Internal Audit Report 2011-12 at its meeting on 16/10/12, Minute F12/
    2. Mrs Angela Alexander was appointed Internal Auditor of the 2012-13 Sedlescombe Parish Council accounts at the Finance Committee meeting on 16/10/12, Minute F12/
    3. External audit of the 2012-13 accounts, and for the following four years, will be undertaken by Littlejohn LLP, appointed by the Audit Commission (F12/13.23.3).
    4. Councillors confirmed that Littlejohns do not provide personal accountancy or tax advice to them.

    1. Standing Orders of the Council were last reviewed in July 2012 (C12/13.66).
    2. Financial Regulations were last reviewed in November 2010 (C10/11.77.2).

  5. INSPECTIONS. In preparation for the estimates, the annual inspections of the Village were undertaken by Cllr Glew, Chairman of the Finance Committee and the Clerk/RFO, accompanied by new councillors Peter Anson and John Parsons (part) on 03/09/12 and 28/09/12. The working group was joined by Ashley Davey and Derek Wright of Sedlescombe Sports Association during inspection of the Sportsfield. The Sports Pavilion interior was inspected by Cllr Chapman in December 2012 and information on the defects identified forwarded to the Sports Association to resolve. Cllr Chapman reported that all identified defects to the exterior of the pavilion have been rectified. Confirmation had been received by the Council that the gas boiler safety check had been done at the pavilion and a gas safety certificate issued. The intruder alarm certificate has not been received.

    1. The 2012-13 Budget and Income and Expenditure had been monitored at the Finance Committee meetings throughout the year: 26/06/12, 16/10/12, 11/12/12, 26/03/13.
    2. A "Final Accounts 2012-13" Report is expected to be approved at the Annual Council Meeting on 14/05/13. It will show Audited Figures 2011-12, the 2012-13 Budget, Actual Income and Expenditure 2012-13 and 2013-14 Budget.
    3. The Annual Governance Statement.
      1. The 2011-12 Return was approved by the Annual Council Meeting on 08/05/12.
      2. The 2012-13 Statement is expected to be approved at the Council Meeting on 14/05/13.
    4. The 2013-14 Budget was considered as follows:
      1. Finance Committee 16/10/12 (F12/13.22.3).
      2. Finance Committee 11/12/12 (F12/13.48).
      3. Council Meeting, 08/01/13 (C12/13.139.4).
      4. Council Meeting, 18/02/13 when the budget was adopted and the precept approved (C12/13.137).
    5. The setting of the forthcoming year's budget and precept had been delayed because of the changes in the Housing Benefit Scheme. The Clerk had attended a Parish Council Briefing at the Town Hall, Bexhill in December. The Sedlescombe Council Tax Base had been considerably reduced from 676.34 in 2012-13 to 606.37 in 2013-14 despite the payment of a grant from Rother to the parishes. There is concern that this grant may not be available for 2014-15.
    6. On 19/12/12, the Government announced that, for 2013-14, parish councils would not have to hold a referendum if they wanted to raise their Band D Council Tax over 2%, although this might be extended to parishes in 2014-15.

      At an emergency Council Meeting on 18/02/13, Sedlescombe Parish Council resolved to raise its precept from £31,500 in 2012-13 to £41,000 in 2013-14 which will increase the Band D Council Tax by 35p/week per household to £67.62 pa - a 36.51% increase in the Sedlescombe Band D Council Tax. It was agreed that this rise is essential to enable the Parish Council to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan for the parish and to maintain its balances to cope with probable future devolution from the District Council.

  7. JOBS. During the year, the Finance Committee monitored the Jobs List. In order to keep the Council Tax as low as possible, the Parish Council launched a Sedlescombe Volunteer Scheme. A Volunteer Registration Agreement was introduced to ensure that volunteers are working under the auspices of the Parish Council and are covered by the Council's public liability and personal accident insurance (F12/13.33). Jobs sheets were introduced for each area of voluntary work to be undertaken. Cllrs Chapman and Parsons took on leadership of the Scheme. Further details can be seen in Clerk's Briefing Notes 21 and 22 of 2012. With help expected from volunteers together with voluntary work by parish councillors and a small reduction in services, it is expected that about £5,000 will be saved by the Parish Council.

    1. The Chairman of the Finance Committee (Cllr Glew) and the RFO met each month during 2012-13 to allow Cllr Glew to monitor the bank accounts to check and initial every invoice for payment and to sign cheques. One of the other two signatories (Cllr Vine-Hall and Cllr Eldridge) added their signature to the cheques before payment. Each member of the Finance Committee joined a monthly session and this is expected to be repeated in 2013-14.
    2. Following the resignation of Cllr Wright, new signatories were appointed for all accounts ie Cllrs Glew, Vine-Hall and Eldridge.
    3. A bank statement was received every month for the Barclays Community Account.
    4. The balance with the West Bromwich Building Society was confirmed after each deposit or withdrawal from the account.
    5. The 6-month Fixed Rate Deposit Account (previously known as the Corporate Guaranteed Investment Account) with The Co-operative Bank was renewed in September 2012 and March 2013. The interest rate plummeted during 2012-13 and by March 2013 was only 0.72% for £25,000 investment. Other investment opportunities for parish councils were investigated but not taken up.
    6. The Government proposes repealing s150(5) of the Local Government Act 1972 whereby two councillors are required to sign orders for payment. The Clerk's Briefing Note "Proposals to Change Payment Methods by Sedlescombe Parish Council" 01/10/12 was adopted by the Council (F12/13.25.2). By March 2013, the Government had still not repealed the section described above.
    7. The Parish Council received bank reconciliations every other month during 2012-13 at its normal meetings.
    8. Payment of cheques was either ratified if already paid, or approved, at the same time.

    1. Apart from petty cash payments and repayments of the loan, where a direct debit has been set up, all other payments were effected by cheques drawn on Barclays Bank.
    2. All invoices were settled within 30 days of receipt.
    3. A petty cash float of £20 was maintained by the RFO and used to defray minor expenses such as postage and stationery. Vouchers for payments of petty cash have been retained.
    4. The RFO's delegated financial powers with regard to petty cash, minor grounds maintenance, purchase of stationery, copier toner etc and booking training were extended on 27/03/12 (F11/12.62).

  10. LOANS
    1. The Council continues to repay the sports pavilion Public Works Loan Board loan twice a year (end January and end July by direct debit). It was taken out in 2009 and will continue for 15 years.
    2. A new £9,000 loan was taken out from the Public Works Loan Board on 25/10/12 for the MUGA. Repayment will start in April 2013 and continue with twice-yearly payments of £496.49 by direct debit for 10 years.

  11. INCOME. All income received has been paid into the Council's Barclays Community Account.

  12. POWER OF WELL-BEING. The Council's Power of Well-Being will continue until May 2015 (next annual meeting in an election year). Unfortunately, because of the resignation of several councillors during the year, the Council cannot apply for the Power of General Competetence until May 2015 at the earliest.

  13. CHAIRMAN'S ALLOWANCE. The Finance Committee agreed to pay the Chairman £200 to meet the costs associated with the position of chairman in accordance with s15(5) of the Local Government Act 1972 and in accordance with the 2012-13 budget (F12/13.15).

  14. MAINTENANCE OF OFFICES. The Finance Committee agreed to pay the Clerk/RFO £200 for maintenance of offices in accordance with the 2012-13 budget (F12/13.14).

  15. CLERK'S SALARY. The Clerk is employed for 20 hours/week. There has been no increase in salary for the last three years.

  16. CLERK'S GRATUITY. Following the note from the External Auditor on last year's audit of accounts re the Clerk's Gratuity, a Clerk's Briefing Note 19-12 was issued on 07/10/12. The Clerk's Contract of Employment states that the Clerk should receive twice the amount of the Clerk's salary at the date of termination of employment. Although from 16/01/12, councils no longer have the discretion to pay a retirement gratuity, the Government has agreed that local councils may still fulfil any extant contractual obligation for the payment of gratuities.

    1. VAT returns were submitted online to HMRC for June, September, December 2012. The March 2013 quarter return will be submitted in early April 2013.
    2. Tax and National Insurance 2012-13 end-of-year forms will be submitted online to HMRC in April 2013.
    3. The required changes to reporting to HMRC when every salary payment is made will be implemented in April 2013 using the Payroll Manager software. This software annual licence was renewed in March 2012.

    1. Invitations have been issued for work during the year.
    2. The following annual contracts have been let:
      1. Grass cutting and strimming 2013 - Landscape Services F12/
      2. Herbicide application 2013 - Landscape Services F12/
      3. Litter collection 2013 - Landscape Services from 01/01/13 F12/13.46.4.
      4. Annual professional inspection of Riverside Playground - Digley Associates F12/
      5. Printing of the 2013 Sedlescombe Parish Council Annual Report and Directory by Fastprint F12/13.1.
    3. The following contracts have been let or work agreed:
      1. Sports fencing installation at the MUGA by D&B Fencing - complete
      2. New surface at the MUGA by Leisure Surfaces C12/13.80.2 - subsequently the Company told the Council it could not undertake the work.
      3. New surface at the MUGA by ETC Sports Surfaces F13/
      4. Tree surgery by Arbor F12/13.46.1- complete
      5. Purchase of 2 rolls of Terram sheeting for Sportsfield Car Park extension - complete
      6. Purchase of computer hardware and software - complete
      7. Purchase of Dreamweaver software for upgrading the Parish Council's website F12/13.37.8. Upgrade of website expected in 2013.
      8. Vehicle count in Brede Lane - East Sussex County Council C12/13.74 - complete
      9. Submission of planning application for flagpole on Village Green C12/13.90 - complete
      10. Purchase of hi-viz tabards, gloves, litter pickers, first aid kits, hand washing material and other tools and equipment considered necessary for voluntary work up to £100. Not used.
      11. Replacement of computer equipment for the Council office C12/13.97.3 - complete
    4. The following work has been arranged free of charge:
      1. Removal of fly-tipped materials from Sedlescombe Sportsfield Car Park by French's Skips in exchange for advertising in our Directory.
    5. Contractors have supplied copies of their public liability insurance cover and have confirmed how waste will be dealt with. The Council is aware of the need for some contractors to register for carrying waste currently and that after December 2013 this will be extended to other types of contractor.

    1. Title Deeds of properties owned by the Council are retained at the County Record Office in the Parish Council's records. Copies are held by the RFO. Registered land no longer needs deeds but is registered at the Land Registry.
    2. The Clerk/RFO has maintained the "Land and Property" file of all Parish Council property.
    3. The 2012 Asset Summary was approved by the Finance Committee on 27/03/12 F11/12.65. The 2013 Asset Summary is expected to be approved at the meeting of the Finance Committee on 26/03/13.
    4. The Parish Council and the Public Playing Field & Recreation Ground Charity made an Agreement in 2012 for the Parish Council to take over maintenance of the Charity's property using its own powers and finance.

    1. A new insurance contract with Aviva through Came & Company was agreed 01/06/12 up to 30/09/13.
    2. The Council's amended Risk Management Report 2012 was approved by the Finance Committee at its meeting on 27/03/12 F11/12.66.

  21. DATA TRANSPARENCY. A brief budget was included in the Parish Council's Annual Report 2013 to be distributed to each home in the parish in April 2013 and details of current and historical financial information included on the Parish Council's website.

    1. Rother District Council is considering devolving some services to parish councils. In Sedlescombe, this is the Brede Lane Car Park and public conveniences in the car park. The Council resolved (C11/12.100.1) That, because of the unacceptable additional burden that the devolvement of maintaining the car park and public conveniences in Brede Lane would bring to the Parish Council, Sedlescombe Parish Council should write to Rother DC refusing its offer of devolving these facilities to the Parish Council.
    2. East Sussex County Council may devolve maintenance of wooden fingerposts to parish councils.

Pauline J Raymond
Clerk/Responsible Financial Officer
Sedlescombe Parish Council
01424 870508

March 2013