HPC Report on Finance 2022/3

Hughenden Parish Council have now completed their year end processes for the 2022/23 financial year.  This report provides additional information for parishioners, including what money came in and what was spent.

What things were like in 2022/3

Here is a reminder of just how difficult life was at the start of the 2022/3 year.

In April 2022, the Council had only just become quorate again after being inquorate for 6 weeks.  7 had new councillors had been co-opted.  The Council had 6 further vacancies.  Council staff had also resigned.

Councillors found that only one councillor had authority to access HPC’s bank accounts.  HPC’s bank required two councillors to authorise the release of payments from HPC’s account.  This is common practice to ensure good controls when it comes to safeguarding public money.

HPC’s banks also required two councillors to authorise others to gain access to the accounts.  Again, this is very common and this can be time consuming due to bank regulations, controls, and processes.

The Council’s first financial priority was to gain access to the bank accounts, and to continue to process the payments to its service providers and other suppliers.

Councillors then prioritized recruiting a new permanent clerk, while also ensuring that there were temporary officers employed to continue with day-to-day operations.

As we started to understand systems, it became apparent that the systems being operated were not adequate, with many processes being manual and antiquated.

In the following months, a great deal of work was completed to implement a new financial system, establish new processes, train councillors and new officers, build reports for regular decision making, and to get back to a firm grounding.  A tremendous effort from the council consisting of many new councillors and a heavy reliance on locum officers, with little experience of our parish area.

Huge thank you must go out to all councillors, who give their time, which is unpaid, and to our officers who have worked diligently in difficult situations.

So how much money did we get and how much did we spend?

Last year’s precept was set in December 2021 at £219K.  We received this money and, as budgeted, we also received 8k from allotment rents, £20k from burial and £11k from Bucks Council for services it devolved to HPC.  We also received, rather unexpectedly, at the end of the year, £24k from the Community Infrastructure Levy.  This is money developers pay towards local infrastructure when they build homes in the parish.

This gave a total income of £285k against the budget of £255k.

Overhead spending on things such as staff, rates, electricity, insurance, and IT remained substantially on budget.  There was an underspend on maintenance across the parish, resulting from our lack of staff resources to proactively manage the workload among contractors.

Due to time being spent on building fundamentals processes and recruitment, council was limited in its ability to progress its planned major projects.

So overall, we spent £213k against a budget of £304k, leaving a surplus of £72k.  We also paid £31k of back rent to HCST from our reserves.

Year end

As is required by law, Parish Councils need to complete a year end process and submit reports to show their positions. They are also required to make assertions in several areas of financial management.  This year we were unable to confirm assertions in 3 areas. They include:

Assertion 2 (re Internal Controls)

Although it is our opinion that there is a strong system of internal control in place, Regulation 6 of the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 requires us to undertake a more formal review and evidence this in the form of a minute.  We must acknowledge that this approach was not used and will ensure this is complied with going forward.


Assertion 4 (re: Exercise of public right to review)

Last year we allowed the public greater than 30 days to exercise their public rights to review our accounts.  Council now understand that the period is strictly 30 days exactly.  We must note this and ensure going forward we stick to the period.


Assertion 7 (Responding to matters brought by the auditors.)

We have identified a couple of rare isolated incidents were the internal auditor raised issues with process.  His comments have not resulted in any significant concerns, but we recognise that the process must be followed on every occasion.


Parish Councils are subject to a thorough internal audit review.  A report is compiled and council will work on any items raised in the coming months.

External Auditors will also conduct a further review.

The future

HPC now has a new financial system in place.  It automatically provides reporting, records transactions, and it can provide a great deal of analysis to help with decision making.

We also have a new permanent Clerk and we are recruiting more permanent staff.  In a few months, we hope to have one full-time Clerk and four part-time staff.

Of course, we acknowledge we may not have got everything right for every parishioner during the year.  We are committed to improving all council functions and look forward to working together with parishioners on this.  We must thank parishioners for their patience and do encourage anyone interested in the local area to step forward and accept one of the open vacancies.

We are working hard currently to agree a set of priorities, both strategic and immediate and hope to have this published soon.