NALC event looks at safeguarding local councils from prevalent financial threats 


The National Association of Local Councils' (NALC) latest event on local government finance examines safeguarding local (parish and town) councils from prevalent financial threats anticipated to impact local government entities in the years ahead.

The event on 24 April 2024 was graced by a panel of esteemed experts, each with a wealth of experience in their respective fields. The panel included Annie Child, chief executive at the Smaller Authorities' Audit Appointments(SAAA), Derek Kemp, a seasoned audit and accounts advisor for NALC, Cllr Graham Oakes, a respected leader of Yeovil Town Council, and Steve Parkinson, a renowned partner at The Parkinson Partnership LLP.

Annie Child introduced the SAAA, what they do, and their purpose. The SAAA is comprised of a board of eight members and is supported by contractors to help them get the job done. She provided her top tips for a successful audit, commenting, "Read the instructions provided by your audit firm, read The Practitioners' Guide, submit your forms in plenty, and keep your contact details up to date".

Derek Kemp delved into the importance of reserves and their implications. He stated, "The Practitioners' Guide is the bible in determining how your reserves should be set, what reserves policy you should have, and what level your reserve would be at". He underscored that reserves are crucial in financing council services, especially when income generation is anticipated but not immediate.

Graham Oakes proudly shared the remarkable achievements of Yeovil Town Council in preserving various services. Their efforts have been instrumental in maintaining the Yeovil Recreation Centre, Yeovil Country Park, and Octagon Theatre, ensuring these vital community assets continue to thrive.

Steve Parkinson drew attention to several pressing issues affecting local councils. One particularly alarming trend is the rapid depletion of financial reserves, leading to inevitable council tax increases. He warned, "We've witnessed numerous councils exhaust their reserves in a bid to delay the inevitable council tax hike that will follow once these reserves are depleted". He also noted a significant influx of funds into the council sector from substantial government funding, a development that has not been seen recently.

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