We summarise the important changes that will take effect from September 2020:
The ESFA have provided updates to guidance surrounding general controls and transparency. This includes making it a must requirement for academy trusts to maintain a fixed asset register.
The trust must continue to deliver internal scrutiny in the most appropriate way but can no longer employ their external auditors to carry out this work. Previous Financial Handbooks have allowed for the external auditor to do an extended programme of work to deliver external scrutiny. However, revised ethical standards now prohibit this for the 2020/21 financial year onwards.
The accounting officer and chief financial officer (CFO) should be employees. This could cause an issue when an interim is in place. Larger trusts are encouraged to consider relevant accountancy qualifications for their CFOs.
Additional guidance relating to the audit and risk committee’s role in external audit has been provided. They will be required to assess all completed work, as well as plans for future work and the suitability of the chosen auditor.
Clarification that boards of trustees must keep their risk registers up-to-date at all times, and should always add potential risks if in doubt of their necessity.
The academy trust must appoint a clerk to support the board of trustees, who is someone other than a trustee, principal or CEO of the trust.