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Reviewing the “big three” financial reports effectively: UNISON (England)

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2nd online training session designed to provide you with the ability to scrutinise your Council's 3-key financial reports.

About this event

This second session online training session is designed to provide stewards with an undestanding to question the 3 key financial reports produced each year when setting their annual budget.

Ideally, you should attend the LGiU's introduction to local government session prior to attending the second session that examines the key financial reports.

Register here for an Introduction to Local Govt. Finance

The LGiU has been commissioned by UNISON to provide training on local government finance. Aimed at UNISON Stewards who work in local government this session will provide a good grounding and an opportunity to learn more about your local Council’s finances.

Session 2: Reviewing the “big three” financial reports effectively

Every council prepares an annual budget report, regular monitoring reports and a set of financial statements for elected members and officers. These “big three” reports contain a wealth of information on the council’s finance. However, their length and complexity can make them daunting for elected members, particularly those without a financial background.

This workshop is designed to enable you to better engage with, and effectively question, these “big three” documents. The overall objective of the session is to demystify the way the council plans, manages and reports its spending and income and to enable councillors to more effectively engage with council finances.

Delegates are encouraged to bring along copies of their council’s “big three” documents and they will have an opportunity to work through these during the workshop. Plenty of time will be provided for participants to ask questions.

By the end of the session participants will be able to:

  • understand the role of the elected member in the council’s financial planning and management processes
  • understand how to read and review their Council’s “big three” financial documents
  • confront and overcome the barriers of jargon and technicality that make getting to grips with these documents so difficult.

Part 2 Preparation

Part 2 of the training will consider the three key documents that every council prepares to plan and report their financial position. These are:

  • The Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and Annual Budget
  • The latest budget monitoring report
  • The Statement of Accounts

Please be aware that every council produces these as public documents, though there is some variation in presentation. For example, the MTFS and Annual Budget might be part of the same document or separated. The MTFS and Annual Budget is reported to Council in February or early March and so can be found in the agenda items for this Committee. The budget monitoring report is usually reported to Cabinet (Executive) quarterly. The Statement of Accounts are usually available directly from the council’s website and are usually finalised in July for the previous financial year.


Please obtain a copy of the latest version of these three documents for the council you are most familiar with. Please note that these are usually lengthy documents, so don’t print them out unless you feel that this would be useful!

Please spend some time reading through the documents and try to form an overall impression of the council’s finances. Also, note down any areas that you would like to be discussed further at the training session.

Don’t panic! The documents can be dense and technical (especially the Statement of Accounts), so please don't get bogged down. There is a very useful section of the Statement of Accounts called the “Narrative Report”, we suggest that you start reading here!

It would be useful if you could bring electronic (or paper) copies of these documents with you to the training.

The online training will be hosted on Zoom.

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Organiser Local Government Information Unit

Organiser of Reviewing the “big three” financial reports effectively: UNISON (England)

LGiU is a think tank and local authority membership organisation as well as a registered charity; and what we are about is pretty simple. We are all about people and the places where we live: we are about the everyday essentials that make life work – health, schools, homes, jobs, support, open spaces and the rest. And the thread that weaves through all our work is our core belief that all these essentials are best when they are designed and delivered locally.



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