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Local Financial Return (LFR) 2020-2021: guidance

Guidance notes to support local authorities in completing the 2020 to 2021 Local Financial Return (LFR).


15. LFR SS: Support Services

This return should provide a detailed breakdown of General Fund and HRA support services on a funding basis. That is, it provides a detailed expenditure and income split for the support services figures recorded in LFR 00, Row 37.

Local authorities should adhere to the following guidance when completing LFR SS. This guidance is in line with SeRCoP and the definitions used for the SOLACE benchmarking exercise.

Section 15.1 sets out on what activity costs should be included within each support service. All costs associated with these activities should be regarded as support costs, regardless of where in the local authority the activities are undertaken. In particular, please note the following:

  • All payroll costs must be included under Finance.
  • Any departmental staff undertaking support service work should be included as a cost for the relevant support service. For example, costs associated with finance staff employed by Education should be included in the Finance column of LFR SS, rather than in LFR 01.
  • If the activity is procured by a third party then the costs to the local authority in procuring these activities should still be regarded as support costs, and as such, should be included as a cost for the relevant support service. For example, costs of an outsourced IT function should be included within the IT column of LFR SS.
  • Shared administration support costs must be recharged to front line services and individual support services. Only the proportion relating to support services should be included within LFR SS, and should be allocated to each of the relevant columns as determined by the activity undertaken.
  • Corporate and Democratic Core (CDC) costs should be recorded in LFR 09, Column R. Any support services element of CDC costs (as recorded in LFR 09, Cell R8) should be included in LFR SS in the relevant column.

Any costs which do not come under the activities listed in Section 15.1 must not be included as support costs but must be recharged to the relevant service and included within the appropriate LFR.

Local authorities are advised to examine the costs they currently class as support costs and assess whether they adhere to this guidance. If they do not, appropriate recalculations should be made and the adjusted figures provided in the final LFR. Local authorities should also consider whether there are any other types of support costs established as a result of local decisions or structures, for example a contact centre that provides functions on behalf of a range of departments, and seek clarification on how to treat these if required.

Apportionment methodologies is a matter for each local authority and should be reviewed and agreed with their external auditor.

15.1 Activity costs by support service

Corporate Services

  • Review teams, for example policy, performance, Best Value, change management, service reform etc.
  • Customer care and service centres
  • Press, publicity and public relations
  • Internal mail, print facilities and post rooms
  • Any general administrative services
  • Departmental directorate costs and associated administrative support
  • Client management of any outsourced activities noted above

Finance

  • Accountancy
  • Payroll
  • Administration of pension funds
  • Insurance (excluding premiums) and risk management
  • Internal audit
  • Financial management systems – provision and development
  • Financial advice
  • Treasury functions
  • Departmental directorate costs and associated administrative support
  • Client management of any outsourced activities noted above

Human Resources (HR)

  • Employee relations
  • Equal opportunities
  • Health and safety
  • Industrial relations
  • Occupational health
  • Retirement
  • Administration of redundancy and retirements
  • Staff resource planning
  • Terms and conditions and welfare
  • Departmental directorate costs and associated administrative support
  • Client management of any outsourced activities noted above

Information Technology (IT)

  • ICT strategy, policy and service development
  • ICT support, including software support
  • Network management
  • Systems procurement
  • Development and operations, including project and change resources
  • Departmental directorate costs and associated administrative support
  • Client management of any outsourced activities noted above

Legal

  • Advocacy and litigation
  • Commercial work
  • Contract negotiation
  • Conveyance
  • Departmental directorate costs and associated administrative support
  • Client management of any outsourced activities noted above

Procurement

  • Preparation of procurement strategy
  • Negotiation and arrangement for contracts
  • Procurement administration
  • EU procurement procedures
  • Departmental directorate costs and associated administrative support
  • Client management of any outsourced activities noted above

Property Management / Office Accommodation

  • Administration of acquisitions and disposals
  • Property asset management policies and plans
  • Energy management
  • Property register maintenance
  • Surveying
  • Valuation and review
  • Departmental directorate costs and associated administrative support
  • Client management of any outsourced activities noted above

Contact

Email: lgfstats@gov.scot

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