New financial controls for local councils

Links: Bourn refuses to sign off government accounts

Councils will be required to follow proper internal audit practices under the rules laid in Parliament by deputy prime minister John Prescott.

The rules also phase in earlier deadlines for the approval and publication of statements of account for principal authorities.

They also lift the ceiling for parish councils to a requirement to prepare income and expenditure accounts from £50,000 to £100.000.

And they restate rules giving local electors the right to see the accounts and raise objections.

Junior local government minister Christopher Leslie told MPs yesterday that the aim of the changes is ‘to update the rules governing the way local authorities keep accounts, to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy so the accounting burden is proportionate to the size of the authority, and to make improvements to provisions relating to local authority corporate governance and accountability.’

They follow a three-month consultation which ended in December. Guidance is being issued.

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