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Academies Accounts Return

Academies Accounts Return 2019/20

Ann Mathias

Following the external audit and approval of the financial statements, the next important deadline on the academy’s ‘to do lists’ are the academies accounts returns (AR). This affects all academy trusts with academies open at any point during the year from 1 September 2019 to 31 August 2020, including trusts that transferred out all their academies and new trusts incorporated at any point during the year.

The academies accounts return portal for 2019/20 opened on the 12th November 2020, you can access it here. Academy trust CFOs should ensure that they log into the system and ensure all key users are set up. The submission deadline has since been extended, along with the filing deadline for the financial statement and is now the 23rd February 2021. You can still file your accounts return sooner.

The requirements to prepare the accounts return fall on the trustees of an academy trust. Although the external auditor is assigned to approve and submit the accounts return to ESFA, the final responsibility for accurate data still remains with the trust’s financial accounts approver i.e. trustees.

Process and guidance 
Step    Action
1 Log into IDAMS to either register or review and update existing information. ( 
Super users must review user roles and approve any new positions.
2 Log into the online forms service for academy trusts and select the accounts return online form for 2019/20.
3 External auditor details will be prepopulated with 2018/19 data. If the details are correct, tick the box and mark the page as complete or edit/add the correct details.
4 Academy trust preparer/approver or external auditor preparer completes the Overview to Counterparty sections of the return.
5 Then clear all hard validations and provide explanations to all soft validations
6 If a preparer completed the return, then the preparer will need to complete their declaration page first and then the accounts return approver would need to review the form and if happy approve it.
7 The external auditor approver reviews the form, approves and submits it to ESFA when satisfied. The external auditor approver can reject the form and send it back to the accounts return approver for amendments.

Changes to the academies accounts return form from last year

The main changes to the annual accounts return form are as follows; 
  • Counterparty reporting now limited to transactions within the academy sector only.
  • New Statement of Financial Activities (SOFA) and benchmarking fields to report Coronavirus grant income to reflect the additional guidance issued with the accounts director to disclose the implication of COVID-19.
  • Updated SOFA and benchmarking fields to reflect new requirements to report rental and lettings income separately from ‘Income from facilities and services’.
  • New SoFA expenditure field to report revenue expenditure from capital funding.
  • Expanded reporting requirements for ‘Employees whose emoluments exceed £100k’ (see below).
  • Expanded reporting requirements for ‘Related party transaction: trustee remuneration’ table (see below).
Additional information and disclosures not included in the financial statements

There are differences in relation to requirements between the AR and the financial statements outlined in the Academies Accounts Direction 2019 to 2020. 

The following additional information is required to complete the Accounts Return:

Statement of financial activities
  • Average staff numbers - Teachers, leadership and administration and support staff must be categorised into permanently employed or temporary/interim staff on a full-time equivalent basis.
  • Gender analysis - Permanent employees (accounting officer, staff who serve as trustees, teachers, leadership and administration and support staff) must be categorised by gender on an average full time equivalent: male or female.
  • Number of employees whose emoluments exceeds £60k and £100k (in £10k bandings) - Trusts should disclose further details for employees whose full time equivalent annualised emoluments exceed £60k. Employer pension contributions and benefits must be included when calculating the annualised emolument. Trusts must supply the number of trustee and employee remuneration as well as the value of salary, pension and other benefits in £10k bandings.
  • Number of employees whose emoluments exceed £100k (in £10k bandings) - Further details required to define the job role. 
  • Staff sickness - Trusts should disclose days lost to sickness.
  • Related party transactions - trustee’s remuneration - In addition to the related party transactions disclosures, trusts must indicate the number of unpaid trustees.
Balance sheet 
  • Commitments under finance leases - Trusts must split finance leases into buildings and other. They are then further broken down into DfE/ESFA, other government and other. Trusts must indicate whether their commitments under finance leases are pre-discounted or discounted values, give ageing details and subtract the interest element
  • Non-cancellable contracts - These are broken down into DfE group, other government and other. Trusts must also provide ageing details.  
  • Breakdown of SOFA pension charge - Trusts must provide the number of paid trustees who were not part of a main pension scheme.   
The ESFA ‘Academies Chart of Accounts’ shows the mapping of ledger codes to SoFA and benchmarking field in the AR. The trusts that have adopted the ESFA chart of accounts can use this document to directly map ledger codes to the AR. 

Validation errors may be triggered in the benchmarking total table if the values input do not match data provided elsewhere in the AR. The ‘Academies Chart of Accounts’ will help assistant trusts to identify the differences. 

As mentioned above, counterparty information will no longer need to be provided at organisation level and the transactions which need to be disclosed are now limited to transactions with the academy sector. We would recommend a search in the sales and purchase ledgers for transactions with any of these entities. Watch out for academies trading under school names who are within a multi academy trust. 

Moore (South)
Moore (South) is part of the Moore UK and Moore Global Network and we are one of the largest accounting and business advisory firms on the South coast of England with offices in Chichester, Guildford, Isle of Wight, Salisbury and Southampton. Our specialist not for profit group consists of sector experts from across the UK who support a range of not for-profit organisations, including academies, independent schools, higher and further education colleges, organisations with exempt charitable status and other not-for profit and charitable organisations.

Contact us 
If you would like to discuss any of the changes to the academies accounts return, or would like more information, then please contact our education team today. 

This blog was written by Andy Tanner.