Shropshire Council

Appendix E - External Arrangements

In this appendix:

  1. Partnerships
  2. External Funding
  3. Work for Third Parties
  4. Accountable Bodies
  5. Payments to Voluntary Organisations

 

E.1 Partnerships

Why is this important?

E.1.1 The days of the all-purpose council that plans and delivers everything are over. It is in partnership with others - public agencies, private companies, community groups and voluntary organisations - that the future of local government lies. Local authorities will deliver some services, but their distinctive leadership role will be to bring together the contributions of the various stakeholders. They will need to deliver a shared vision of services by bringing cohesion and co-ordination to the fragmentation of local interests.

E.1.2 Local authorities will mobilise investment, bid for funds, champion the needs of their areas and harness the energies of local people and community organisations. Local authorities will be measured by what, in partnership with others, they achieve.

Partnerships - general

E.1.3 The main reasons for entering into a partnership are:

  • The desire to find new ways to share risk.
  • The ability to access new resources.
  • To forge new relationships.

E.1.4 A partner is defined as either:

  • An organisation (private or public) undertaking, part funding or participating as a beneficiary in a project

or

  • A body whose nature or status gives it a right or obligation to support the project.

E.1.5 Partnerships can exist in varying forms:

  • Formal Partnerships.
  • Non-Formal Partnerships.
  • Statutory or Obligatory Partnerships.
  • Joint Commissioning.

E.1.6 Partners participate in projects by:

  • Acting as a project deliverer or sponsor, solely or in concert with others.
  • Acting as a project funder or part funder.
  • Being the beneficiary group of the activity undertaken in a project.

E.1.7 Partners have common responsibilities:

  • To be willing to take on a role in the broader programme appropriate to the skills and resources of the partner organisation.
  • To act in good faith at all times and in the best interests of the partnership’s aims and objectives.
  • Be open about any conflict of interests which might arise.
  • To encourage joint working between themselves, promote the sharing of information, resources and skills between public, private and community sectors.
  • To hold confidentially any information received, as a result of partnership activities or duties, that is of a confidential or commercially sensitive nature.
  • To act wherever possible as ambassadors for the project.

Key controls

E.1.8 The key controls for Council partners are:

  • To be aware of their responsibilities under the Council’s Financial Rules and Contract Procedure Rules.
  • To ensure risk management processes are in place to identify and assess all known risks.
  • To ensure project appraisal processes are in place to assess the viability of the project in terms of resources, staffing and expertise.
  • To agree the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of each of the partners involved in the project before the project commences.
  • To communicate regularly with other partners throughout the project so that problems can be identified and resolved.
  • A statement of the aims and objectives of the partnership.
  • A shared ownership of strategy.
  • Sound financial management, with clear procedures for determining the financial liabilities of each partner.
  • Performance management arrangements between individual organisations and the partnership.
  • A clear operational timescale with a clear exit strategy that allows the partnership to be discontinued or, if exit is not appropriate, a continuation strategy.

Responsibilities of Section 151 Officer

E.1.9 To advise on effective controls which will ensure that resources are not wasted.

E.1.10 To advise on the key elements of funding a project:

  • Scheme appraisal for financial viability.
  • Resourcing, including taxation issues.
  • Carry forward arrangements.
  • Risk appraisal.
  • Audit requirements.

Responsibilities of directors and managers

E.1.11 To ensure that the approval of Cabinet is obtained before any negotiations are concluded on partnership arrangements.

E.1.12 To maintain a register of all partnership arrangements entered into in accordance with procedures specified by the Section 151 Officer.

E.1.13 To provide appropriate information to the Section 151 Officer to enable a note to be entered into the statement of accounts.

E.2 External funding

Why is this important?

E.2.1 As local authorities are encouraged to provide ‘seamless’ service delivery through working closely with other agencies and private service providers, the scope for external funding has increased.

Key controls

E.2.2 To ensure that key conditions of funding and that any statutory requirements are complied with. To ensure that external funding is only accepted where the financial implications of the agreement are clear and where the agreement provides value for money for the council.

Responsibilities of Section 151 Officer 

E.2.3 To sign off any external funding agreements with the funding body, with due regard to key controls. To ensure that all funding notified by external bodies is received and properly recorded in the Council’s accounts.

Responsibilities of directors and managers

E.2.4 To ensure that the Section 151 Officer has signed off funding agreements before any monies are received and applied.

E.2.5 To ensure that all claims for funds meet key conditions and are made by the due date.

E.3 Work for third parties

Why is this important

E.3.1 Current legislation enables the Council to provide a range of services to other bodies. Such work may enable the unit to maintain economies of scale and existing expertise. Arrangements should be in place to ensure that any risk associated with this work is minimised.

Key controls

E.3.2 To ensure that proposals are properly costed in accordance with guidance provided by the Section 151 Officer.

E.3.3 To ensure that contracts are drawn up using guidance provided by the Section 151 Officer and that the formal approvals process is adhered to.

Responsibilities of directors and managers

E.3.4 To ensure that the approval of Cabinet is obtained before any negotiations are concluded to work for third parties.

E.3.5 To maintain a register of all contracts entered into with third parties in accordance with procedures specified by the Section 151 Officer.

E.3.6 To ensure that appropriate insurance arrangements are made.

E.3.7 To ensure that the Council is not put at risk from any bad debts.

E.3.8 To ensure that no contract is subsidised by the Council.

E.3.9 To ensure that, wherever possible, payment is received in advance of the delivery of the service.

E.3.10 To ensure that the Directorate has the appropriate expertise to undertake the contract.

E.3.11 To ensure that such contracts do not impact adversely upon the services provided for the Council.

E.3.12 To ensure that all contracts are properly documented.

E.3.13 To provide appropriate information to the Section 151 Officer to enable a note to be entered into the statement of accounts.

E.4 Accountable bodies

Why is this important

E.4.1 Where the Council is involved in delivering services jointly with other groups or partnerships, either the Council or one of the partner members (if it is a legal entity) can act on behalf of the partnership as the accountable body. The Council is currently the accountable body for a number of partnerships including the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.  Where the Council is the accountable body proper systems of financial administration and control should be put in place for administering and accounting for any funds received and distributed.

Key Controls

E.4.2 To ensure that the Section 151 Officer approves all instances where the Council is to become the accountable body, that full details are provided of what this work actually involves and that Cabinet grants approval to become the accountable body.

E.4.3 That a record is maintained of all activities where the Council is acting as the accountable body.

Responsibilities of the Section 151 Officer  

E.4.4 To provide guidance and advice on the setting up and accounting arrangements to be put in place for all activities where the Council has taken on responsibility of acting as the accountable body.

Responsibilities of directors and managers

E.4.5 To advise and seek the approval of the Section 151 Officer where the Council commits or agrees to be the accountable body and ensure that a report is produced for Cabinet approval.

E.4.6 To ensure that any funding received and expenditure made is administered and accounted for in line with the financial and contract procedure rules.

E.4.7 To ensure that the Council does not enter into any commitments or contracts until all funding for the project/activity is fully received.

E.4.8 To establish and maintain effective systems for auditing and monitoring expenditure.

E.4.9 To ensure that in the cases where an independent audit certificate is required that the funds made available to the accountable body have been spent in accordance with the terms of the grant agreement and that a proper audit trail is maintained with appropriate records and copy invoices to support the grant claim.

E.4.10 To ensure all supporting records are maintained in line with the guidance issued in the Corporate Retention Schedule.

E.5 Payments to Voluntary Organisations

Why is this important

E.5.1 The Council works with a number of voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) providers to deliver Council services. However many VCSE providers do not carry sufficient reserves, either at all or permitted to be used, to fund working capital to enable them to deliver the service they are contracted to do prior to receiving payment.

Key controls

E.5.2 To ensure that payments in advance for VCSE providers are only made where a service contract is drawn up and approved by a director in liaison with the Section 151 Officer.

E.5.3 Payments in advance for VCSE providers must only be made for service delivery costs and payments agreed for no more than five working days in advance of the VCSE incurring the service delivery costs.

Responsibilities of the Section 151 Officer

E.5.4 To provide guidance and advice on the setting up and accounting arrangements to be put in place for all approved payments to voluntary providers.

Responsibilities of directors and managers

E.5.5 To ensure that advance payments made to VCSE providers are only made to organisations that are operating in Shropshire and that are signed up to the Shropshire Compact through membership of the Shropshire VCSA.

E.5.6 Any payments to VCSA providers not covered under the provisions of E.4.5 must be referred to the Section 151 Officer for consideration.

E.5.7 To ensure that the VCSA provider submits evidence of expenditure incurred and documentation is retained in line with the Corporate Retention Schedule.