The 2017-18 Academy Accounts Direction has now been published by ESFA. Whilst there are no wholesale changes to the accounts, there are a number of areas where additional disclosures or detail is required for the 2017/18 accounts:
- The trustees’ report now requires an additional disclosure for all trusts with more than 49 FTE employees in any 7 month period within the accounting period in order to comply with the Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017. The following information should be disclosed:
- Number of employees who were relevant union officials during the period (both headcount and on FTE basis);
- Details of the proportion of time spent by employees on union business (facility time);
- The cost to the academy for this facility time expressed as a % of the academy trust’s total pay bill; and
- The percentage of time spent by employees undertaking paid trade union activities as a proportion of the total paid facility time.
- Details of the Academy Trust’s fundraising practices including:
- Approach to fundraising;
- Work with and oversight of any commercial participators / professional fundraisers;
- Fundraising confirming to recognised standards;
- Monitoring of fund raising carried out on its behalf;
- Fundraising complaints; and
- Protection of the public, including vulnerable people, from unreasonably intrusive or persistent fundraising approaches, and undue pressure to donate.
- Academy Trusts will be required to split out expenditure on raising funds between direct and support costs incurred in the relevant note to the accounts.
- The funds and net assets notes will be expanded to show full details of the preceding period, where the academy trust’s current and prior periods are 12 months.
- Capital income relating to assets not included within the academy trust’s balance sheet should be recognised as a donation, with the relevant expenditure recorded either as grant expenditure in the SOFA, or capitalised as site improvements with the balance sheet.
- The fixed asset note is expanded to show assets under construction as a separate category. In addition, fixed asset additions and fixed asset acquisitions are now categorised separately within the fixed asset note to allow for additional clarity.
- The related party note requires transactions with related parties to distinguish between income and expenditure transactions. Disclosure in relation to any expenditure to related parties should confirm that the academy has complied with the Financial Handbook and Financial Procedures Manual in relation to the transactions, that they have been undertaken at arm’s length and that any expenditure in excess of £2,500 has been incurred at cost, with a statement of assurance obtained from the related party to confirm this.
- In addition, the related party note in consolidated accounts must disclose all transactions between the Academy Trust and its subsidiaries, the exemptions within Section 33.1a of FRS102 cannot be applied by Academy Trusts.
- A full income and expenditure statement is required in respect of teaching school income and expenditure within the notes to the accounts
ESFA called attention to the following areas where issues have consistently been identified:
- Lack of approval for finance leases
- No statement of assurance for connected party transactions
- Connected party transactions not at cost
- Non-contractual severance payments made without the required approvals
- Weak internal controls
The provision of excessive gifts or purchase of alcohol have been specifically noted as irregular expenditure by ESFA. Any items of this nature purchased would be reported as a breach of regularity.
Your auditor should ensure that audit work undertaken provides assurance that they Academy Trust has complied with ESFA requirements in these areas.
ESFA has also clarified that accounts must be submitted to them within 4 months of the accounting period end. For academy trusts with an August year end, the filing deadline remains 31 December, however when an academy trust becomes inactive at an earlier date, i.e. the final academy has closed out of the trust, the filing deadline will move forward accordingly.