The latest Academies Accounts Direction, applicable for the year ended 31 August 2020, has now been published. Whilst it is several years now since the first Direction was issued, there continues to be a handful of changes each year, reflecting legislative and other requirements. The 2019-20 Direction is no exception.
Whilst there will need to be a number of changes to the disclosures in the notes to the accounts, the more challenging points affect the Trustees’ Report and the arrangements for internal scrutiny.
For their forthcoming Trustees’ Report, academy trustees will need to include additional commentary around such things as engagement with employees, suppliers and customers, and energy and carbon reporting. And with tight reporting deadlines, (the 31 December deadline for submitting audited financial statements to the ESFA has not been extended at the current time to reflect difficulties arising from the coronavirus pandemic) it is essential that trustees are fully aware of their reporting responsibilities at an early stage, to ensure that any necessary information is gathered on a timely basis.
Another significant change for some reflects an amendment to the ethical guidelines for auditors, which now prohibit a Trust’s external auditors also providing internal scrutiny services to the Trust. So those Trusts that currently use the same provider for both services will need to be reviewing their current arrangements, considering their options in line with the Direction and deciding how they will obtain assurance over the operation of their control procedures going forward. The Governance Statement will also need to explain what changes have been necessary as a result of this amendment to the Direction.
This is only a very brief summary of some of the changes which Trusts will need to take account of this year, and is no substitution for reading the Accounts Direction itself which can be found here.