Service Reporting Code of Practice for Local Authorities 2020/21


SeRCOP is prepared in accordance with the financial reporting framework established by the Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in the United Kingdom (the Code). It applies to all local authority services throughout the UK from 1 April 2020 for the preparation of 2020/2021 budgets and performance indicators.







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Modern local government is constantly developing and adapting to its current economic climate. Transparency initiatives, performance and best value regimes are evolving in expectation of the government becoming more sophisticated.

SeRCOP is reviewed annually to ensure that it develops in line with the needs of local government, transparency, best value and public services reform. 

In England, SeRCOP is given legislative backing under the Local Government Act 2003. In Scotland SeRCOP's Service Expenditure Analysis (SEA) and guidance is used by the Scottish Government as the basis for specifying the requirements of the Local Financial Returns (LFRs).

Section 2 – the Definition of Total Cost and section 3 – the Service Expenditure Analysis provide the base requirements of SeRCOP for government statistical and other performance reporting purposes, and is fully consistent with the requirements of the Code. 

For 2020/21, we anticipate changes for the England and Wales SEAs will be made to public health services (England), adult social care (England) and police services. The Scottish SEA guidance has been updated to include reference to the treatment of the Scottish Welfare Fund. 

Section 4 includes the recommended standard subjective analysis to help authorities to make effective comparisons for financial reporting requirements.

SeRCOP establishes proper practices with regard to consistent financial reporting for services. It is an official CIPFA statement – all local authorities in the UK are expected to adopt its mandatory requirements and detailed recommendations. It is also expected that CIPFA members will comply with all the mandatory requirements of SeRCOP as it defines best practice in terms of financial reporting for government statistical and other performance reporting purposes.

This publication is available online only.

The digital, online version is a bookmarked downloadable PDF of the publication that can be shared throughout your organisation. Customers will need to register and log in to CIPFA's website to access the publication.

Details of licensing arrangements for other categories of purchaser, which includes those organisations operating shared service arrangements, are available from CIPFA’s Publications Department.

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