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The anticipated supplementary bulletin has recently been issued by the ESFA. As with last year’s bulletin, it has the same status as the Academies Accounts Direction (AAD) itself and the two documents should be read in conjunction with each other.
The purpose of the document is both to introduce some additional requirements but also to provide guidance to those working within the sector, and their auditors, on specific matters arising from the Covid-19 pandemic where there may be an accounting impact.
Broken down into sections, the bulletin first deals with issues faced by auditors and reporting accountants before turning to issues concerning the trusts themselves.
The key points to note are:
- The scope of the regularity review remains unchanged and the format of the regularity statement within the AAD is also unchanged
- Trusts will be aware of Procurement Policy Note 04/20 which expired in October 2020 as well as further DfE guidance issued in February 2021 to help schools understand how to support critical suppliers and ensure value for money. Within the value for money section of the Governance Statement, Trusts must reflect where they have supported suppliers in this way during the pandemic
- If applicable, Trusts should also explain any situations where Covid-19 has adversely impacted value for money
- As well as considering any additional disclosures that may be required as a result of the pandemic, Trustees should explain in the Trustees’ Report how Covid-19 has impacted the financial performance of the Trust. Whilst there will be much focus on the impact on Trust reserves, the explanation should not be limited to this. Trusts also need to explain how any additional Covid-19 funding was deployed
- Trusts need to explain any financial uncertainties as part of their consideration of going concern as well as the steps being taken to address these. The same also applies to any trading subsidiaries
- It is likely that the pandemic will have impacted the Trust’s governance arrangements and this must be reflected accurately in the Governance Statemen
- Where a Trust has been eligible to receive Catchup Premium or Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme income these must be disclosed separately in note 4 of the accounts regardless of materiality. The Trust must also disclose the costs incurred in respect of these funding streams as a footnote to note 4. There are illustrative examples given in the bulletin. These disclosures must also be replicated in note 20 – Fund
- No additional disclosure is required in respect of the Free School Meals Voucher Scheme but Trusts may wish to include some narrative on this in the Trustees’ Report.
- Whether from the DfE scheme or elsewhere, many schools will have received donated laptops and devices to support learning. The method of accounting for these items will depend on whether the Trust is acting as principal or agent in the transaction and chapter 19 of the Charity SORP will assist Trusts in determining this. The items should be valued at fair value and the SORP can also provide assistance with this. Schools need to be able to justify the rationale for the value applie
The bulletin signposts the reader to various useful resources, including the Charity SORP and PPN 04/20.
If you would like any further support with this or any other matter, please contact our academy experts.