Academy Advisor – Autumn 2021
Welcome to the autumn 2021 edition of Academy Advisor, our regular newsletter for Academies and Free Schools.
This edition covers:
- The latest Academy Trust Handbook
- Guidance on Covid-19 reporting in the annual accounts
- VAT Property Pitfalls – The development of sports facilities
- Business Interests & related parties
- Internal scrutiny – review of ESFA findings
- Timetable for upcoming submissions
As schools welcome back pupils after the summer break, the impact of Covid-19 on the education sector continues to present challenges and pressure on budgets.
With audit season well underway and Trustees’ Reports being drafted, it is worth reflecting on long term strategic objectives to ensure they address issues brought on by the pandemic, such as any loss, or reduction of income from lettings and fund-raising events, increased costs to support pupils and staff with any ‘catch-up’ programmes as well as any wellbeing and mental health issues that require extra resources. It is also worth considering what grants your academy may be eligible for to support your strategic aims.
Now is also a good time to consider future fundraising options, as while many of the traditional PTA fundraising events were put on hold over the last 18 months, now most restrictions have been lifted, they are likely to make a comeback. Academies can boost the amounts raised through Gift Aid if their PTA is a registered charity, where qualifying donations attract an additional 25p on every £1. We have also seen a number of trusts signing up to lottery schemes to raise money, as well as shopping affiliate schemes, such Amazon Smile and Easy Fundraising, where a percentage of sales are donated to the school.
Another impact of Covid-19 has been the accelerated adoption of technological solutions, which have transformed the business side of institutions and helped to deliver education in new and innovative ways. Statutory audits last year relied heavily on remote access to finance and accounting systems, virtual meetings, limited on-site visits and the support of key personnel to provide us with sufficient and appropriate audit evidence. Some of these efficiencies will help to mitigate against the increase in costs associated with the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) revised auditing standards and the annual amendments set out in the Academy Trust Handbook and the Academies Accounts Direction, which all result in more varied and more complex audit arrangements.
As always, strong governance and financial management are essential in dealing with challenging circumstances. We can guide and support you throughout the audit process and offer assistance in areas you may have difficulty completing. Further support is also available via our MHA Trustee Hub, where you can find a wealth of free information and online resources for trustees, with downloadable templates and guides.
Find out more
In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this edition and if anything is unclear or if you need further advice and support, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your local office.