Academy Management Reporting

The requirement for the production of management accounts for Academy Trusts was formalised in the Academies Financial Handbook 2018 and has been further defined in the Academies Financial Handbook 2019.  The format of management accounts must include an income and expenditure account, variation to budget report, cash flows and balance sheet.

The ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency) have recently issued a fact sheet to assist with the preparation of management accounts.

Download the fact sheet

Month end checklist

The fact sheet gives a list of month end procedures to be completed before management accounts are prepared, in order to ensure the underlying records are complete and accurate.

This is a useful starting point in preparing a month end checklist. Once completed, the checklist and reconciliations completed should be reviewed to take into consideration any additional areas. It would also be useful for the trust to set a timescale at the end of each month, to ensure that management accounts are prepared to in accordance to deadlines.

Automation

Automation of the process is also encouraged where possible. Many accounting software packages will prepare the reports required but they need to be checked to ensure that they reflect the underlying data correctly.  Once produced they should be carefully reviewed to ensure that they make sense in the context of what is expected.

Accounts format

It is also recommended that the management accounts are discussed with both the senior leadership team (SLT) and the Trustees, although the format of the accounts may be different for the two groups. It is suggested that the Trustees may require a more summarised version, although this should not be assumed.  The requirements and the format preferred should be discussed with the Trustees so that they are satisfied that they have sufficient detail to provide effective challenge. Commentary should be included to explain variances, note any common trends and highlight areas of risk.

The Academies Financial Handbook requires that monthly management accounts are sent to the Chair of the Trust every month and to other trustees not less than six times a year. As above, the management accounts should also be presented to the SLT.  As best practice, individual budget holders should also be provided with monthly income and expenditure accounts relating to their departments, for reconciliation.

Key areas to look out for

The factsheet includes some guidance on areas to look out for in the management accounts. These include:

  • Consideration of staff costs as a percentage of income as guidance suggests that this should be no more than 70% to 80% to ensure that the trust is sustainable.
  • Review of supply costs and consideration whether any action is required in order to reduce costs.
  • Review of aged debtors and consideration of whether appropriate action is being taken to chase debts.
  • Ensuring that the bank account is not overdrawn or likely to become overdrawn based on the latest cash flow forecast.

The factsheet emphasises that management accounts are crucial for understanding the status of accounting reports, strategic level decision making on resources and good governance.

If you would like any further information on the preparation of management accounts or any other related topic, please contact us and speak to a member of our Academies team.

A version of this blog originally appeared on the website of MHA member firm, Moore and Smalley.