Budget Setting and Precept Calculation
Parish councils, irrespective of their size, have a statutory duty to prepare an annual budget. The budget process:
- results in the council setting the precept for the following year
- gives the clerk overall authority to make spending commitments in line with the decisions of the council
- enables progress monitoring during the year by comparing actual spending against planned spending.
The budget is one of the most important annual tasks that the council must undertake and is required as part of ‘proper practices’ set out in the Practitioners’ Guide. It is not lawful to set a precept unless a budget has been prepared and approved.
The ‘precept’ is a balancing figure, referred to in legislation in England as ‘the council tax requirement’ after taking into account projected expenditure, other estimated income and any transfers to or from reserve.
A budget proposal is put to the council in November/December by the clerk as its Responsible Financial Officer to help councillors decide the precept for the following year. It shows plans for expenditure and also income other than the precept and includes a precept calculation.
A budget monitoring document is presented to the councillors at least quarterly throughout the accounting year so they can assess progress against the planned budget for receipts and payments to date.