Your views wanted on council code

24 Aug 17

Two new standards and other changes to the local authority accounting code have practical and possibly budgetary implications

 

Two new standards and other changes to the local authority accounting code have practical and possibly budgetary implications

 

The annual consultation on the Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in the United Kingdom has been issued by the CIPFA/LASAAC local authority accounting code board. This year will see the introduction of two substantial international financial reporting standards: IFRS 9: Financial Instruments; and IFRS 15: Revenue from Contracts with Customers. Both will result in technical accounting changes and will have practical and possibly budgetary consequences.

Last year, CIPFA/LASAAC took the unusual step of consulting a year early on changes to the code to give accounts preparers more time to get ready for them. Following this, CIPFA/LASAAC issued a publication setting out its position on the approach to the 2018 code’s adoption. It has not consulted again this year on the latest standards in the code to provide a ‘steady state’ for those preparing accounts. 
  
IFRS 9 will introduce new classifications for financial assets based on the business models used for holding groups of financial assets and the cash flow characteristics of individual financial instruments. It will also bring in a forward-looking expected credit loss model, which establishes a three-stage approach for the impairment of financial assets, in contrast to the current methodology that relies on evidence that impairment has taken place. The standard also introduces a hedge accounting model that reflects more accurately how an organisation manages its risk in the financial statements.

It is possible that both the classification and impairment models will affect local authorities’ general funds. The CIPFA treasury and capital management panel has issued a questionnaire on IFRS 9 to assess its impact, which we encourage local authorities to complete. It will be on CIPFA’s website until 8 September. 

IFRS 15 requires organisations to recognise revenue for the provision of goods and services as an amount that reflects the consideration it expects to be entitled to in exchange for goods and services. It also introduces a disclosure framework to help users better understand the amount, timing and nature of the cash flows relating to revenue.

Although CIPFA/LASAAC is not consulting again on the adoption of these two standards, it is happy to consider any augmentations to the code. It is also seeking more information on a few issues relating to the two new standards, including the approach to disclosures under IFRS 15.  
 
The 2018-19 code consultation also covers technical amendments to IAS 7: Statement of Cash Flows, IAS 12: Income Taxes, IAS 40: Investment Property Annual Improvements to IFRS Standards 2014-2016 Cycle and IFRIC: 22 Foreign Currency Transactions and Advance Consideration, as well as other minor changes.

The pace of developments in IFRS means that CIPFA/LASAAC will need again to seek views early. The consultation therefore includes an appendix on the adoption of IFRS 16: Leases; it is anticipated that this standard will be in the 2019-20 code. IFRS 16 will require local authorities that are lessees to recognise most leases on their balance sheets as right-of-use assets with corresponding lease liabilities (there is recognition for low-value and short-term leases). 

Councils will to make effective preparations for all three standards. New information requirements are likely to need revised data collection procedures and systems, and management’s judgment will be required in numerous areas. There may also be budgetary implications. Risks need to be assessed as soon as possible.

CIPFA/LASAAC is keen to hear the views of interested parties on the consultation and local authority financial reporting and to be fully informed about the practical effect of the technical changes. The consultation, which is on CIPFA’s website closes on 6 October. 

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