The following information has been published by MHCLG relating to the amendment of the Accounts and Audit Regulations:
“The Accounts and Audit (Amendment) Regulations 2021 were laid on 9 March and come into effect on 31 March 2021.
These regulations were intended to amend the timing of the period for the exercise of public rights for Category 1 bodies (principal authorities) only, enabling them to commence their public inspection period not later than 1 August for the accounting years 202021 and 202/22. However the way in which the regulations were drafted has inadvertently amended it for all relevant authorities, including category 2 bodies (smaller authorities, such as parish councils).
This was intended to provide added flexibility for principal councils and their auditors to agree a mutually suitable deadline, given the difficulties experienced by these bodies in closing their accounts over the last 2 years and was implemented as part of one of the recommendations of the Redmond Review. However, the regulations do not prevent any organisation from publishing their draft accounts for public inspection to the original public inspection deadlines, and the recent government consultation encouraged councils to continue to do so as far as possible.
We are currently exploring the opportunities for correcting the regulations to give effect to the original intention ie to apply this change to principal bodies only, and therefore smaller bodies should continue to prepare their accounts for public inspection by 1 July 2021 as they would do normally and approve their 2020/21 AGAR by 30 June 2021.
We would however like to take the opportunity to publicise a new requirement within these regulations for all bodies to post a notice if they fail to publish their draft accounts by the due deadline as well as the existing requirement to publish an explanatory notice if they fail to publish their final accounts.”