Strategic governance arrangements in relation to the Scottish Consolidated Fund (the Fund) are covered in this governance statement. Although the Fund itself sits outside the Scottish Government's internal governance arrangements, the operation of the Fund is carried out within Scottish Government Finance, and is subject to the same controls and assurance procedures that apply to the Scottish Government, in particular the certificates of assurance and risk management arrangements, overseen by the Director General Finance. The governance arrangements within which the Fund operates are assessed by the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Government confirms that these arrangements comply with generally accepted best practice and relevant guidelines. Assurance is also provided by the work of internal and external audit and to a more limited extent by the Scottish Government Audit and Risk Committee ( SGARC). Although SGARC has no formal role in relation to the Fund, it is informed of any issues pertaining to the Fund, and hence exercises some oversight of the Fund's operations.
The operation of the Fund is governed by the provisions of the Scotland Act 1998, the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000 and the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act 2014 which set out the conditions for payments to be made out of the Fund and sums to be paid into the Fund. The Fund uses and relies on the financial management systems of the core Scottish Government to carry out associated accounting and payment functions. Specific assurances on the reliability of these central systems have been provided by the Director General Finance and relevant senior members of staff within her command.
The following procedures to identify, evaluate and manage significant risks have already been implemented:
- The risks associated with the operation of the Fund have been identified and incorporated within the Scottish Government Finance Directorate Risk Register together with the determination of a control strategy for each risk which is kept under constant review.
- The Scottish Government's internal auditors provide reports on the adequacy and effectiveness of Financial Services Division's systems of internal control together with recommendations for improvement. Such reports include the Division's operation of the Fund where appropriate. Appropriate action is taken to address any weaknesses identified and to ensure the continuous improvement of the system.
In the 2015-16 financial year, Financial Services Division in its operation of the Fund has:
- Monitored the balance on the account and taken appropriate action to maintain the balance at an appropriate level whilst remaining within the cash limits set by the UK and Scottish Parliaments.
- Kept its processes and procedures under review, ensuring that they are documented and were amended where appropriate to reflect any changes to the Fund's operation. In particular, processes and procedures were reviewed and updated to implement the provisions of the Scotland Act 2012, some of which came into effect in 2015-16, and others in 2016-17, and which have had a significant impact on the operation of the Fund, and on its accounts.
- Identified and kept under review any risks arising from the operation of the Fund, and included these where appropriate in the Divisional and Directorate risk registers.
- Assessed the risk management arrangements in place and confirmed that they are operating effectively.
- Ensured that during the year staff have received training on any revision to processes and procedures in relation to the operation of the Fund.
- During 2015-16, accepted and have largely implemented recommendations for improvement of the operation of internal controls in Financial Services Division in relation to the Scottish Consolidated Fund as a result of a review of payments from Revenue Scotland via the Scottish Consolidated Fund to the Scottish Government carried out by Internal Audit in that year.
Principal Accountable Officer
22 September 2016