This CPALC (Communities, Parish and Local Councils) Best Practice Guide (BPG) is for town and parish councillors, clerks and residents who wish to gain an understanding of the Internal audit requirements of the town and parish council Annual Return.


  • The Annual Return is a statutory document that must be completed annually by every town and parish council as well as every parish meeting
  • The objective is to ensure that monies raised by taxing local communities is safeguarded and spent in compliance with the law
  • This guide is based on the 2012/2013 Annual return
  • You as a councillor should ensure that you understand your current responsibilities and obligations before agreeing to approve the Annual Return
  • This section of the Annual Return is signed by the internal auditor
  • This does not absolve councillors from their responsibilities for the council's finances
  • They approve the whole Annual Return
  • Councillors should have a good understanding if the internal audit requirements, scope and work for their council


Article Contents - Click on a link below

What is the Internal Auditor

What the Annual Return is not

What the Annual Return is

When should the Annual Return be signed?

What you as a councillor confirm

Books of accounts

Council's financial regulations

Risk assessments

Adequate budget process

Income and VAT accounted for

Petty Cash payments and expenditure

Salaries correctly approved, PAYE & NI correct

Asset and Investment registers

Bank Reconciliations

Correct accounting basis used and supported by records

Trustee responsibilities



This is primarily a practical guide not a legal treatise.

The principal objective is to assist councillors asking the right questions based on relevant information.

This guide is NOT intended to be an internal audit guide or manual its aim is to assist councillors understanding the internal audit section of the Annual Return.

  • Each section of the guide focuses on 2 key considerations
    • The matters and questions town and parish councillors should consider in-order to fulfil their legal obligations
    • What information town and parish clerks should ensure that their councils and councillors should have available to understand and have trust in the process


This guide is indicative and is not definitive as financial regulations and accounting policies may and will vary from council to council.

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