Part 4 - Financial procedure rules
Below are the financial procedure rules.
B.1 The full Council is also responsible for approving procedures for agreeing variations to approved budgets, plans and strategies forming the Policy Framework and for determining the circumstances in which a decision will be deemed to be contrary to the Policy Framework or budget. Decisions that appear contrary to the Policy Framework or budget should be referred to the full Council by the Monitoring Officer.
B.2 The full Council is responsible for setting the level at which the Cabinet, Leader of the Council or a Cabinet Member may reallocate budget funds from one service to another. The Cabinet, Leader of the Council or a Cabinet Member is responsible for taking in-year decisions on resources and priorities in order to deliver the budget Policy Framework within the financial limits set by the full Council.
B.3 The resource allocation, budget process and general format of the budget will be proposed by the Cabinet, Leader of the Council or a Cabinet Member on the advice of the Chief Financial Officer.
B.4 The Chief Financial Officer is responsible for ensuring that an annual revenue budget, capital programme and medium term financial strategy is prepared for consideration by the Cabinet, Leader of the Council or a Cabinet Member before submission to the full Council. The full Council may amend the budget or ask the Cabinet, Leader of the Council or a Cabinet Member to reconsider it before approving it.
B.5 The Cabinet, Leader of the Council or a Cabinet Member is responsible for issuing guidance on the general content of the budget in consultation with the Chief Financial Officer as soon as possible following approval by the full Council.
B.6 It is the responsibility of Directors to ensure that budget estimates reflecting agreed service plans are submitted to the Cabinet, Leader of the Council or a Cabinet Member and that these estimates are prepared in line with guidance issued by the Chief Financial Officer and / or Cabinet.
Budget monitoring and control:
B.7 Subject to these Regulations, Directors have the authority to incur expenditure provided in the revenue budget or capital programme approved by the full Council.
B.8 Expenditure may not be incurred if it is contrary or not wholly in accordance with the Policy Framework or budget.
B.9 Directors must undertake regular monitoring of revenue and capital expenditure and, subject to these Regulations, where there is an overspending, investigate and take appropriate action to bring spending back into line with the budget.
B.10 Executive Directors have overall budget responsibility and can delegate the day-to-day management to Budget Managers and Budget Holders as appropriate for their service.
B.11 The Chief Financial Officer is responsible for providing advice to Directors to enable budgets to be monitored effectively. The Chief Financial Officer must report to the Cabinet, Leader of the Council or a Cabinet Member and Scrutiny on the overall financial position on a regular basis.
B.12 It is the responsibility of Directors to control income and expenditure within their area and to monitor performance, taking account of advice provided by the Chief Financial Officer. They should report to Cabinet, Leader of the Council or a Cabinet Member and Scrutiny on variances in both capital and revenue spending within their own areas, take action where necessary to avoid exceeding their budget allocation and alert the Chief Financial Officer to any problems.
B.13 The Chief Financial Officer is responsible for developing and maintaining a resource allocation process that ensures due consideration of the Council’s Policy Framework.
The Capital Programme:
B.14 The Chief Financial Officer is responsible for ensuring that a capital programme is prepared on an annual basis for consideration by the Cabinet, Leader of the Council or a Cabinet Member before submission to the full Council. No scheme shall be included in the capital programme unless it has been through the appraisal and prioritisation process approved by the Cabinet. The following are exceptions to this process which would need Council agreement:
- Initiating a new policy;
- Committing capital expenditure in the current or future years to a level above the approved budget levels;
- Transferring resources between revenue and capital budgets except as Revenue Contribution to Capital Outlay (RCCO);
- Entering a capital commitment if it involves a material change to the nature of the project as set out in the agreed project appraisal.
B.15 Directors are responsible for ensuring that variations in capital project costs that occur during the course of a contract are contained within the resources allocated to that service.
B.16 No lease, hire, rental or similar agreement that may involve a charge against the County Council’s approved borrowing or credit limit may be entered into without advice from the Chief Financial Officer.
B.17 Guidelines on budget preparation are issued to Members and Directors by the Cabinet, Leader of the Council or a Cabinet Member following agreement with the Chief Financial Officer. The guidelines will take account of:
- Legal requirements;
- Medium-term planning prospects;
- The corporate strategy;
- Available resources;
- Spending pressures;
- Best value and other relevant government guidelines;
- Other internal policy documents;
- Cross-cutting issues (where relevant).
Maintenance of reserves and balances:
B.18 It is the responsibility of the Chief Financial Officer to advise the Cabinet, Leader of the Council or a Cabinet Member and/or the full Council on prudent levels of reserves and balances for the Authority.
Treatment of year-end under / overspends:
B.19 Any underspend at the finance year-end on a service area’s revenue budget will not be carried forward to the following financial year but will be transferred to General Reserves unless approved as detailed below.
B.20 The Chief Financial Officer may approve a budget carry forward of a ring-fenced grant or where a grant has conditions or expectations attached, where the related expenditure is not expected to be incurred in the current financial year. Cabinet will approve all other budget carry forward requests through the outturn report, taking advice from the Chief Financial Officer.