Improving financial management in local authorities


The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has just published the guidance notes to accompany its new Financial Management Code. The guidance notes will help local authorities to improve further the robustness and resilience of their financial management arrangements. And I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to work with CIPFA to prepare them.

The CIPFA Financial Management Code draws on the principles of good financial management to set clear standards to which local authorities should aspire in terms of:

  • the responsibilities of the chief financial officer and the leadership team;
  • the authority’s governance and financial management style;
  • long- to medium-term financial planning;
  • the annual budget;
  • stakeholder engagement and business plans;
  • monitoring financial performance; and
  • external financial reporting.

These standards are designed to help authorities to implement robust financial management arrangements and to put in place the mechanisms required to use their resources efficiently and effectively and to achieve financial sustainability.

The Code is written so as to be sensitive to the needs and circumstances of individual local authorities and to be flexible in its implementation, so that authorities can tailor it around the ways in which they work. The guidance notes seek to provide authorities with insight into the requirements of the code and ideas for how they can meet them.

The guidance notes are available to purchase from CIPFA. CIPFA is also offering a full package of support for local authorities keen to improve their financial management arrangements. And if your organisation has a CIPFA publications subscription, you may be able to access the guidance notes through that.

In case you’re wondering: No, I’m not on commission. And no, I’m afraid I don’t have any free copies I can share. Sorry. But I and a rather large number of people from across CIPFA, various local authorities and several treasurers’ societies spent ages getting the guidance notes just right. So they are – in my (admittedly somewhat biased) opinion, at least – well worth the investment.

Full disclosure: In addition to working with CIPFA on this and other publications, I’m also a fellow of the Institute, a former Institute prize winner and former Vice President of the Institute’s South West regional council.

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