Scottish Consolidated Fund Accounts: year ended 31 March 2021
Audited annual financial statements of the Scottish Consolidated Fund for the financial year 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
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 for Corporate (formerly DG Organisational Development and Operations). 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 Assurance Committee (SGAAC). Although SGAAC 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, the Scotland Act 2012, the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act 2014 and the Scotland Act 2016, 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 for Corporate and relevant senior members of staff within her command. The systems have been in place for the year under review and up to the date of approval of the annual report and accounts.
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 where appropriate incorporated within the Scottish Government Financial Management Directorate Risk Register together with the determination of a control strategy for each risk which is kept under constant review.
- The Scottish Government's external auditors, Audit Scotland, provide reports on the adequacy and effectiveness of the systems of internal control with recommendations for improvement as part of their annual audit review of the Scottish Government. Appropriate action is taken to address any weaknesses identified and to ensure the continuous improvement of the system.
- The Scottish Government's internal auditors provide reports from time to time 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. The last internal audit report of a review was issued in June 2019, and covered aspects of the Division's governance and internal controls.
In the 2020-21 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, aiming to ensure that they are documented and amended where appropriate to reflect any changes to the Fund's operation. In particular, processes and procedures were further reviewed and updated in respect of the borrowing provisions of the Scotland Act 2012, which came into effect from 2015-16 onwards, as amended by the Scotland Act 2016, and which have had a significant impact on the operation of the Fund, and have had a similar impact on its accounts. The first repayments of borrowing were charged to the Fund in 2018-19. In 2020-21, the procedures for authorisation of the exercise of the borrowing powers were reviewed and updated.
- Identified and kept under review any risks arising from the operation of the Fund, and included these where appropriate in the Directorate risk register.
- Assessed the risk management arrangements in place and confirmed that they are operating effectively.
- Carried out operations on the Scottish Government IT network and on systems managed by the Scottish Government, and hence has been subject to its IT and data security arrangements. There were no breaches of data security relating to the Fund during the year.
- Reviewed processes and procedures in relation to the operation of the Fund during the year in light of various changes during the year, including staff changes, with a view to updating documentation and providing training to staff on revised processes and procedures in 2020-21. Scottish Government staff have continued to work remotely throughout 2020-21, and a review of processes and procedures relating to the operation of the Fund to take account of this has been undertaken and changes implemented, in particular ensuring that all documents supporting the accounting records are held electronically for ease of reference. Review and updating of desk instructions to reflect this change is in progress.
Principal Accountable Officer
15 December 2021
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