In June 2021, the Education and Skills Funding Agency released updated guidance relating to the financial requirements for Single- and Multi-Academy Trusts.
The full list of changes can be found on the government website or in the 2021 edition of the Academy Trust Handbook 2021 and we strongly recommend that all academy members, trustees, local governors, accounting officers, chief financial officers, auditors and governance professionals read the document prior to the regulations coming into effect on 1 September 2021.
Academy Trusts must comply with the Academy Trust Handbook as a condition of their funding agreement. It provides an overarching framework for implementation of effective financial management and other controls, consistent with your obligations as publicly funded bodies.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency
Changes to the Financial Guidance for Sept 2021
The changes highlighted below are in relation to the information that needs to be published on your trust website. There may be other changes which relate to processes and procedures that need to be updated internally within your trust, which have not been covered in this post. We strongly recommend reading this in conjunction with the full handbook in order to ensure you are meeting all guidelines.
The financial information you are required to share on your trust website
Alongside the DfE Requirements for Academies, Free Schools and Colleges, you will also need to feature the following financial information on your website from 1 September 2021:
The number of employees whose benefits exceeded £100k
These should be published in a separate readily accessible form, in £10k bandings, as an extract from the disclosure in your financial statements from the previous year ended 31st August. Benefits for this purpose include salary, employers' pension contributions, other taxable benefits and termination payments.
Where the academy trust has entered into an off-payroll arrangement with someone who is not an employee, the amount paid by the trust for that person’s work for the trust must also be included in the website disclosure where payment exceeds £100k as if they were an employee. (Section 2.32)
Gender pay gap
Under the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulation 2017, organisations with 250+ employees have to publish information on their website and the government reporting website about the gender pay gap within their organisation. (Section 2.33)
This procedure is to protect staff who report individuals that they believe are doing something wrong or illegal. The procedure must be agreed by the trustees and must be published on the Trust website. (Section 2.44)
Transparent Governance Arrangements
Trusts must provide details of their governance arrangements in a governance statement published with their annual accounts, including what the board has delegated to committees and, in trusts with multiple academies, to local governing bodies.
The governance arrangements must be up-to-date and should be published in a readily accessible format within your website (Section 2.50)
Additional information on Transparent Governance Arrangements
These have to be up-to-date and should be published in a readily-accessible format within your website (Section 2.50)
This should include:
- The structure and remit of the members, board of trustees, committees and local governing bodies, including the full name of the chair of each.
- The full names, dates of appointment, term of office, date they stepped down and appointee details for each member, trustee and local governor who has served over the last 12 months. You must also include their relevant business and pecuniary interests including governance roles in other educational institutions. If the accounting officer is not a trustee then their business and pecuniary interests must still be published
- The attendance record at each local governing body meeting over the last academic year for each local governor.
- The attendance record for board and committee meetings over the last academic year for each trustee.
Trusts must also make available for public inspection:
- The agenda for every meeting of the trustees, local governing bodies and committees
- The approved minutes of each meeting
- Any report, document or other paper considered at each meeting
Trusts can exclude any item or material relating to a named teacher, employee or proposed employee, named pupil or student at the academy or who is a candidate for admission or referral to it and any matter which, by reason of its nature, the trustees are satisfied should remain confidential.
Audited Report and Accounts
Trusts must have their audited report and accounts online by the 31 January. (Section 4.4)
Register of Interests
Trusts must publish the relevant business and pecuniary interests of members, trustees, local governors and accounting officers on the website. Trusts have discretion over the publication of interests of other individuals named on the register. (Section 5.48)
Notice to Improve (Ntl) - formerly Finance Notice to Improve
When a Trust is subject to a Notice to Improve (NtI) they must publish it on their website within 14 days of being issued with the notice by the ESFA and it must remain on the website until it has been lifted by the ESFA. (Section 6.19)
We continue to strengthen and develop the regulatory framework, reflecting the central role trusts now play in the school system... Nothing is more important than keeping children and those who work with them safe; this and effective education can only be achieved in a well-maintained, secure, and comfortable environment.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of Stare for the School System, June 2021
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