Coronavirus Finance and Compliance Advice for Schools
The Cabinet Office has published a Procurement Policy Note (PPN) which applies to all contracting authorities, including education institutions who consider themselves to be contracting authorities. It applies with immediate effect and lasts until June 2020 when it will be reviewed. The policy aims to support suppliers under public contracts where contract performance is affected due to Covid-19 and sets out information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak.
Educational Institutions should pay particular attention to the FAQS document Q5 & 6
Finance staff may have remote access to the finance system, but do your signatories have access from home to authorise BACS payment runs? If you are still paying by manual cheque, you will need a process in place for your signatories to physically sign them before they are sent out.
Before processing any payment runs make sure you have checked your bank balance and cash flow as there may be disruption such as difficulty reclaiming VAT.
Maintained schools’ financial positions at the end of March are incorporated into the Whole Government Accounts, so deadlines are set by the Local Authority to enable this to happen. There have been no confirmed changes to the deadlines at this time, so keep an eye on your Local Authority website for any updates.
If you can remotely access your finance systems at the year-end but can’t physically access the school, plan ahead for items that you may need to complete returns from home such as folders that you might refer to regularly, and start planning what accruals (creditors, debtors, payments in advance & receipts in advance) you may already know about.
Maintained Schools will be required to submit their budget plans for 2020/21 to the Local Authority, will we still need to send these in?
Many of you will already have been working on the budget plan for the coming year, so continue to work towards the same deadlines as normal until you are notified of any changes. It may be that you need to arrange a virtual meeting to approve your budget – please refer to the governance advice above.
The Budget Forecast Return Outturn is due on the 19th May for information up to close of business 31st March. If you are working from home, make sure that you can access all of the information that you need to collate this. That will include your period 7 accruals, as well as a detailed breakdown of your income and expenditure to date.