Now that we have passed 31 January and with it the extended deadline for the submission to the ESFA of the audited financial statements of academy trusts for the 31 August 2020 year end, many trusts will be breathing a sigh of relief and now be turning their attention to the Academies Accounts Return, which this year also has a later submission deadline of 23 February.
Whilst it would be difficult to forget those particular milestones in an academy trust’s calendar, in these challenging times, particularly with online learning and remote working, it would be all too easy to forget some of the other administrative deadlines that exist. It is important to remember that the trust’s audited financial statements must also be published on the trust’s website by 28 February. And that the financial statements must be filed at Companies House too, by 31 May.
Whilst academy trusts should be familiar with the above requirements, the Academies Financial Handbook 2020 also introduced a new requirement for each trust to publish on its website ‘in a separate readily accessible form, the number of employees whose benefits exceeded £100,000, in £10,000 bandings, as an extract from the disclosures in its financial statements for the previous year ended 31 August’. This forms part of the ESFA’s battle against rising executive salaries in the sector, in an environment of increasing accountability and transparency. So if your trust has employee benefits in excess of £100,000 as disclosed in the audited financial statements in the 31 August 2019 and/or the 31 August 2020 year end, this detail should now be replicated on your website. It is not sufficient to rely on the disclosures within the financial statements themselves to comply with the Handbook.