Financial Statements: A Good Practice Guide for Local Authorities
Local authority financial statements are complex, and readers can find it difficult to identify the information they need. So what can you do to help your readers navigate their way to that crucial piece of information? How can you present the financial statements in a way that helps the public understand what is being shown? While there are no simple answers, this publication will help you to get to grips with the issues, and identify improvements in the way you produce your accounts.
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Topics covered include:
- Identifying the users (and potential users) of your financial statements, and what information they need. Different users are looking for different information from the accounts – do you know who your key users are and what they want?
- Materiality: What information is important to users, and more importantly, what is not and can be left out? Guarding against the tendency to include notes just in case, or because ‘we’ve always done it that way’, can help reduce the size of the financial statements and make them more accessible to users.
- Presentation can make all the difference. If users have different needs, will one presentation style suit everyone? Can you separate the simple from the complex, so users can jump to the information they need?
This publication is aimed at finance directors, chief accountants and those involved not only in producing the financial statements but also in making them as accessible to readers as possible. If you want to do your bit to help councillors and the public understand the accounts, this publication is for you.
This guide is available in book and PDF formats. Details of licensing arrangements for other categories of purchaser, which includes those organisations operating shared service arrangements, are available from CIPFA’s Publications Department.