Accounts closedown: Cumbria County Council


Faster and easier accounts closedown

Cumbria larger

According to Mark Rutherford, Technical Leader of Accounting and Financial Planning at Cumbria County Council, the council was "in a good place" when it came to the annual accounts closedown process. Although Cumbria’s finance department is additionally tasked with producing group as well as county council accounts, it was nonetheless previously able to close down accounts comfortably within its own end-June deadline.

Opportunity to streamline

However, when the statutory timetable for closedown shifted to the end of May, the local authority was interested to explore the potential of the CIPFA Closedown solution (known colloquially as the ‘big red button’) to streamline its processes.

As Mark pointed out, there were other motivations for change: "With the shorter deadline, it’s important to be able to reduce the amount of manual input and formatting. But at a time when there’s a lot of change in accounting regulations and the CIPFA Code of Practice, we also knew that the solution would also help us stay compliant. And always having the most up-date accounts in a single location is very helpful, too."

Less duplication

Once Cumbria’s finance department started using the solution to produce their 200-page final document, Mark noted that: "It made us realise how much we did manually." He and colleagues particularly appreciated the way in which it can apply small changes throughout the accounts without the need to make multiple manual adjustments.

Using ‘big red button’ also highlighted duplication in working papers, helping Cumbria to streamline that part of the accounts process too. Now, the team is able to cover PFI with a single working paper rather than the multiple documents that were needed before.

More automation

One year into Cumbria County Council’s use of the CIPFA solution, Mark says that: "So far, it’s helped to streamline and improve our processes, and make far less use of paper. It will also drive more automation in our accounts closedown for 2019, which makes the whole process easier: ultimately, if it’s in the CIPFA Closedown solution, there’s less for you to do." For the next year’s accounts, the finance department may also look to use the solution’s workflow and project management features.

Finally, having expected Cumbria County Council’s auditors to need time to familiarise themselves with the new system, Mark noted that "they were comfortable with it right from the start: there were no questions or issues."

Discover more

To discuss how CIPFA can help you with closing your accounts - from software solutions to advice, from people to consultancy – contact our Closedown team:

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