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Local government accounting

We seek to ensure that the information contained in local authority annual accounts is of the highest quality and provides relevant financial information for stakeholders.

The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 makes it the duty of a local authority to observe proper accounting practices, while section 99 of the Local Government (Scotland) 1973 Act places a duty on auditors to satisfy themselves that proper accounting practices have been observed.

Within the Act, references to proper accounting practices are deemed to be:

  • (a) those which the local authority is required to observe by virtue of any enactment
  • (b) those which have been specified in guidance issued by Scottish Ministers
  • (c) those which, whether by reference to any generally recognised, published code or otherwise, are regarded as proper accounting practices to be observed in the preparation and publication of accounts of local authorities

When a conflict arises between the above practices, (a) has precedence over (b), which has precedence over (c). Where no enactments or guidance have been issued on a topic, the Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in the United Kingdom is accepted as proper accounting practice.

Statutory guidance

Current statutory guidance on accounting practices is contained within the following finance circulars:

Non-statutory guidance

Current non-statutory guidance to help local authorities to comply with the statutory accounts requirements is contained in the following finance circulars:

Full statutory and non-statutory guidance on accounting practices is contained within the local government finance circulars: index

Whole of Government Accounts

The UK government produces consolidated accounts for the whole public sector, known as Whole of Government Accounts (WGA). Scotland is not governed by the same legislation which requires local authorities in England and Wales to provide WGA data, however we have provided an undertaking to HMT to provide the same level of information for Scottish local authorities on a voluntary basis.

Local authorities in Scotland should use the WGA guidance for England, but send material to WGA_mailbox@gov.scot in place of the LG_returns email address.