Smaller authorities with a turnover of less than £25k per year are required to publish the following, on a freely available website:
- all items of expenditure above £100
- end of year accounts
- annual governance statements
- internal audit report
- a list of councillors and responsibilities
- the details of public land and building assets
- minutes, agendas and any associated papers
Your council may be eligible to receive a grant towards getting a computer and setting up a website to enable the council to comply with the Code. Contact NALC for more information and an application form. The first monies were made available to parish councils in November 2015 and monthly from then until the end of the 2015/16 financial year when the process will be reviewed.
You may be wondering how long the information has to remain on your website.
DCLG has stated
“There is no requirement to retain information indefinitely online, and your authority should follow its own records management policy. As a guide, however, the Information Commissioner’s Office provides a model publication scheme under the Freedom of Information Act, which can be summarised as:
Any information about decision-making and records of decisions should be made available for the current financial year, plus the previous three financial years;
Any information about financial records (e.g. from parking income, to salary information) should be made available for the current financial year, plus the previous two financial years;
Any other substantive information (e.g. constitution) should be up to date.
It is for your councillors to decide whether to fund the expansion of a website, to allow for material to be stored. We would of course encourage them to consider the importance of transparency for all public services. Access to information about how public money is spent is an integral aspect of local accountability and the democratic process.”
The easiest way to ensure compliancy and at the same time ensure that your clerks aren’t overloaded with additional work is to have a purpose built parish council website. These are designed specifically to help smaller authorities to meet their obligations. With ongoing help and support, becoming compliant doesn’t have to be as daunting as you may think. Click here for more details.