1. Statement of Accounting Policies
In accordance with the accounts direction issued by Scottish Ministers under section 19(4) of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000 these financial statements have been prepared in accordance with the 2017-18 Government Financial Reporting Manual (FReM). The accounting policies contained in the FReM apply International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as adapted or interpreted for the public sector context.
The accounts are prepared using accounting policies, and, where necessary, estimation techniques, which are selected as the most appropriate for the purpose of giving a true and fair view in accordance with the principles set out in International Accounting Standard 8: Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors. Changes in accounting policies which do not give rise to a prior year adjustment are reported in the relevant note.
The particular accounting policies adopted by the portfolios of the Scottish Government are described below. They have been applied consistently in dealing with items considered material in relation to the accounts.
1.1 Accounting Convention and basis of consolidation
These accounts have been prepared under the historical cost convention modified to account for the revaluation of property, plant and equipment (PPE), intangible assets, and, where material, financial asset investments and inventories to fair value as determined by reference to their current costs.
These accounts reflect the consolidated assets and liabilities and the results for the year of all the entities within the Scottish Government accounting consolidation boundary. The structure of the Scottish Government and further information about the entities within the consolidation boundary is provided within the introduction of the Performance Report of these accounts.
The Executive Agencies detailed within the Performance Report mentioned above are reported within the Outturn Statements of their sponsoring portfolio.
1.2 Property, Plant and Equipment (PPE)
All PPE assets will be accounted for as non-current assets unless they are deemed to be held-for-sale (see note 1.3 below), and will be accounted for under IAS16 Property, Plant and Equipment.
Scottish Ministers hold the legal title or effective control over all land and buildings shown in the accounts.
Assets classified as under construction are recognised in the statement of financial position to the extent that money has been paid or a liability has been incurred.
The minimum levels for capitalisation of a property, plant or equipment asset are land and buildings £10,000 and equipment and vehicles £5,000. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems are capitalised where the pooled value exceeds £1,000. Substantial improvements to leasehold properties are also capitalised. Furniture, fixtures and fittings are treated as current expenditure and are not capitalised. Any assets valued below these thresholds will be treated as expenditure in the year of purchase.
Land and buildings have been stated at open market value for existing use or, under IAS 16 as adapted for the public sector, depreciated replacement cost for specialised buildings under a rolling 5-year programme of professional valuations and appropriate indices in intervening years. Other plant and equipment assets, other than vessels and aircraft are reported at depreciated historic cost.
Losses in value reflected in valuations are accounted for in accordance with IAS 36, Impairment of Assets as adapted by the FReM which states that impairment losses that arise from a clear consumption of economic benefit should be taken to the outturn statement. The balance on any revaluation reserve (up to the level of impairment) to which the impairment would have been charged under IAS 36 should be transferred to the general fund.
The road network is valued at depreciated replacement cost as it is deemed to be specialist in nature. The road pavement element is valued using agreed rates determined to identify the gross replacement cost of applicable types of road on the basis of new construction on a greenfield site. These rates are re-valued annually using indices to reflect current prices and are also updated when new construction costs become available as comparators to the costs previously identified for specific road types.
Structures are valued using agreed rates determined to identify the replacement cost of applicable types of structure on the basis of new construction on a greenfield site where these are available, but special structures, which tend to be one off by their nature, are valued using specific costs that are updated to current prices. Communications are valued using agreed rates determined to identify the replacement cost of applicable types of communication.
The indexation factors applied are:
Road Pavement and Structures
|Baxter Index, published quarterly by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills|
|Traffic Scotland provide new gross and calculated depreciated values each year|
|Land indices produced by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA)|
Upwards movements in value are taken to the revaluation reserve. Downward movements in value are set off against any credit balance held in the revaluation reserve until the credit is exhausted and thereafter charged to the relevant portfolio outturn statement.
The trunking or detrunkings of roads from or to local authorities is treated as a transfer from or to other government departments. Roads and structures detrunked are effectively dealt with as disposals in accounting terms at nil consideration. Any associated profit or loss is processed through the general fund.
Subsequent costs are only included in the asset's carrying amount or, where appropriate, recognised as a separate asset, when it is probable that future economic benefits associated with the item will flow to the Scottish Government and the cost of the item can be measured reliably. The carrying amount of the replaced part is derecognised. All other repairs and maintenance are charged to the outturn statement during the financial period in which they are incurred.
1.3 Assets Held for Sale
A property is derecognised and held for sale under IFRS 5 Non-current Assets Held for Sale and Discontinued Operations when all of the following requirements are met:
- It is available for immediate sale in its present condition
- A plan is in place, supported by management, and steps have been taken to actively market the asset and conclude a sale at a reasonable price in relation to its current fair value
- A sale is expected to be completed within 12 months.
Assets classified as held for sale are measured at the lower of their carrying amounts immediately prior to their classification as held for sale and their fair value less costs to sell. Assets classified as held for sale are not subject to depreciation or amortisation.
1.4 Donated Assets and European Union Grants
IAS 20 Accounting for Government Grants and Disclosure of Government Assistance, and SIC10 Government Assistance apply as interpreted by the FReM. Donated assets and grants received from the European Union for capital assets are capitalised at their valuation on receipt and this value is credited as income to the outturn statement. Subsequent revaluations are accounted for in the revaluation reserve, and impairments may be charged to the outturn statement.
1.5 Intangible Assets
In accordance with the FReM, Intangible assets are accounted for in line with the requirements of IAS 38 Intangible Assets, and SIC 32 Intangible Assets- Web Site Costs, and are valued at amortised cost based as a proxy for fair value. Revaluations are carried out according to IAS 38 for assets over a valuation threshold.
Future economic benefit has been used as the criteria in assessing whether an intangible asset meets the definition and recognition criteria of IAS 38 Intangible Assets for assets that do not generate income. IAS 38 defines future economic benefit as, 'revenue from the sale of products or services, cost savings, or other benefits resulting from the use of the asset by the entity.'
Intangible assets other than assets under development are amortised on a straight line basis over their estimated useful lives. Impairment reviews are carried out if there are any indicators that impairment should be considered.
Intangible assets under development are not amortised.
1.6 Depreciation and Amortisation
Land is considered to have an indefinite life and is not depreciated.
Assets under construction are not depreciated.
For all other property, plant and equipment and intangible assets, depreciation or amortisation is charged at rates calculated to write off their valuation by equal instalments over their estimated useful lives which are normally in the following ranges:
Dwellings and other buildings
|5 to 50 years (as per valuation)|
|3 to 10 years|
|10 to 25 years|
|5 to 20 years|
|3 to 15 years|
|3 to 10 years|
Internally developed software
|3 to 5 years|
|Over the shorter of asset life and lease term|
1.7 Financial Instruments
The Scottish Government measures and presents financial instruments in accordance with IAS 32 and 39, IFRS 7, and IFRS 13 as interpreted by the FReM. IFRS 7 requires the classification of financial instruments into separate categories for which the accounting treatment is different. The Scottish Government has classified its financial instruments as follows:
- Cash and cash equivalents, trade receivables, short term loans, accrued income relating to EU funding, amounts receivable and shares and will be reported in the 'Loans and Receivables' category. This will also include investment funds managed by third parties which will be reported separately.
- Shared equity loans advanced to private individuals will be reported in the 'At fair value through profit & loss' category.
- Borrowings, trade payables, accruals, payables, bank overdrafts and financial guarantee contracts are classified as 'Other Liabilities'.
Financial instruments are initially measured at fair value with the exception of 'Shares held in and loans advanced to public sector bodies' which are held at historic cost, in the absence of an active market. The fair value of financial assets and liabilities is determined as follows:
- The fair value of cash and cash equivalents and current non-interest bearing monetary financial assets and financial liabilities approximate their carrying value, and
- The fair value of other non-current monetary financial assets and financial liabilities is based on market prices where a market exists, use of appropriate indices or has been determined by discounting expected cash flows by the current interest rate for financial assets and liabilities with similar risk profiles.
Financial instruments subsequent measurement depends on their classification:
- Fair value through the profit and loss is held at fair value with any changes going through the outturn statement.
- Loans and receivables and other liabilities are held at amortised cost and not revalued unless included in a fair value hedge accounting relationship. Any impairment losses go through the outturn statement.
- Shares which are held in public sector bodies do not have a quoted market price in an active market, and the fair value cannot be reliably measured and reported at historic cost less impairment with any impairment losses going through the outturn statement.
Financial assets include shares in nationalised industries and limited companies, loans issued to public bodies not consolidated in departmental accounts; loans made under the terms of the student loans scheme, loans to private companies, repayment and deferred loans relating to housing associations and investment funds. Such investments are generally reported as non-current assets. If an investment is held on a short-term basis, or a loan is due to be repaid within one year, it will be treated as a current asset.
Student loans are classified as 'Loans and Receivables', and are initially valued at fair value. They are subsequently recorded in the accounts at amortised cost.
As there is currently no active market for student loans, the Scottish Government values the loans by using a valuation technique. This technique involves the gross value of the loans being reduced by an amount based on:
- Interest subsidy: This is the difference between the interest paid by students (lower of RPI and Bank of England Base Rate + 1% point) and the cost of capital on loans at the rate provided by HM Treasury. The interest subsidy is estimated to meet the cost of the interest over the life of the loan and is offset by the annual interest capitalised.
- Write off impairment: This is estimated to meet the future cost of loans that are not likely to be recovered mainly due to the death of the student, their income not reaching the income threshold, or not being able to trace the student. Each year, the future cost of bad debt is estimated based on a percentage of new loans issued during the financial year. This is offset by the actual debts written off by the Student Loan Company.
The estimates underpinning these adjustments are based on a model which holds data on the demographic and behavioural characteristics of students in order to predict their borrowing behaviour and estimate the likely repayments of student loans. Given the long term nature of both adjustments, the time value of money is significant, and they are discounted using the current HM Treasury discount rate.
There are significant uncertainties in assessing the actual likely costs and the impairment will be affected by the assumptions used. These are formally reviewed by the Scottish Government each year and the amounts impaired reflect the Scottish Government's current best estimate.
Further details of the movements in the loan valuation can be found in note 9, while disclosures relating to risk, required by IFRS 7, can be found in note 10.
Derivatives embedded in other financial instruments or other host contracts are treated as separate derivatives when their risks and characteristics are not closely related to those of host contracts and the host contracts are not measured at fair value with changes in fair value recognised in profit and loss.
Financial Guarantee Contracts
Financial guarantee contract liabilities are measured initially at their fair value and subsequently at the higher of:
- The amount of the obligation under the contract, as determined in accordance with IAS 37 Provisions, Contingent Liabilities and Contingent Assets; and
- The amount initially recognised less, where appropriate, cumulative amortisation recognised in accordance with IAS 18 Revenue.
Financial Transactions are a capital funding source from HM Treasury which can only be used to fund loans and equity investments that cross the public/private sector boundary. These have to be repaid to HM Treasury in the future through adjustments to baseline funding. A repayment profile has been agreed with HM Treasury which aligns receipts by the Scottish Government with repayment to HM Treasury. This is reviewed annually.
Items that cannot or will not be used are written down to their net realisable value. Taking into account the high turnover of NHS stocks, the use of average purchase price is deemed to represent the lower of cost and net realisable value. Work in progress is valued at the cost of the direct materials plus the conversion costs incurred to bring the goods up to their present degree of completion.
1.9 Non-Profit Distributing (NPD)/ Public Private Partnerships (PPP)/ Private Finance Initiatives (PFI)
NPD/PPP/PFI transactions are accounted for in accordance with IFRIC 12, Service Concession Arrangements which sets out how NPD/PPP/PFI transactions are to be accounted for in the private sector. The Scottish Government currently uses the Non-Profit Distributing model in structuring its service concession arrangements. Previous administrations used the Public Private Partnership and Private Finance Initiative models. As payments made and assets held relating to these models will continue to be recorded in these accounts over the foreseeable future, the accounts refer to the three different service concession models in relevant disclosure.
Assets that are assessed to be on statement of financial position will be measured as follows:
- Where the contract is separable between the service element, the interest charge and the infrastructure asset, the asset will be measured as under IAS 17, Leases, with the service element and the interest charge recognised as incurred over the term of the concession arrangement; and
- Where there is a unitary payment stream that includes infrastructure and service elements that cannot be separated, the various elements will be separated using estimation techniques including obtaining information from the operator or using the fair value approach.
The grantor will recognise a liability for the capital value of the contract. That liability does not include the interest charge and service elements, which are expensed annually through the relevant portfolio outturn statement.
Assets should subsequently be measured consistently with other assets in their class using IAS 16, Property, Plant and Equipment, adopting an appropriate asset revaluation approach. Liabilities will be measured using the appropriate discount rate, taking account of the reduction arising from capital payments included in the unitary payment stream.
Any revenue received by the grantor is recognised in line with IAS 18, Revenue.
Revenue is recognised when the amount can be reliably measured, it is probable that future economic benefits will flow to the entity and when specific criteria have been met.
Operating income is income that relates directly to the operating activities of the Scottish Government. It includes fees and charges for services provided, on a full cost basis, to external customers, public repayment work and income from investments. It includes both income applied with limit as outlined by the Scottish Budget documents and income not applied. For income categorised as being applied with limit, any excess income over that approved is surrendered to the Scottish Consolidated Fund. Operating income is stated net of VAT.
Income is analysed in Note 4 between that which, under the regime, is allowed to be offset against gross administrative costs in determining the outturn against the administration cost limit (income applied), and that operating income which is not (income not applied).
1.11 Administration and Programme Expenditure
The Summary Outturn Statement is analysed between administration and programme expenditure:
- Administration expenditure reflects the costs of running the Core Portfolios as defined under the administration cost control regime, together with associated operating income. This does not include the costs of running other bodies within the departmental boundary: such costs are included within the appropriate category of programme expenditure in the relevant Portfolio Outturn Statements.
- Programme expenditure reflects non-administration costs, including payments of grants and other disbursements, including the administration costs of those bodies within the departmental boundary. Programme expenditure also takes account of income applied. A note to the accounts provides an analysis of total programme income between income applied and income not applied (Note 4).
Grants payable or paid are recorded as expenditure in the period that the underlying event or activity giving entitlement to the grant occurs. Where necessary obligations in respect of grant schemes are recognised as liabilities.
In accordance with the Scottish Public Finance Manual, procedures are in place to ensure compliance with any conditions or provisions attached to any grant payments.
1.13 European Union Funds
Funds received from the European Union (EU), are treated as income and shown in the relevant Portfolio Outturn Statement. Expenditure in respect of grants or subsidy claims is recorded in the period that the underlying event or activity giving entitlement to the grant or subsidy claim occurs. Any related payable or receivable balances are reflected in the Statement of Financial Position.
1.14 Foreign Exchange
Under the requirements of IAS 21 The Effects of Changes in Foreign Exchange Rates and SIC 7 Introduction of the Euro, transactions which are denominated in a foreign currency are translated into sterling at the exchange rate ruling on the date of each transaction, except where rates do not fluctuate significantly, in which case an average rate for a period is used. Foreign exchange gains and losses resulting from the settlement of such transactions and from the translation at year-end exchange rates of monetary assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies are recognised in the outturn statement.
As directed by the FReM, IAS 17 Leases and SIC15 Operating Leases apply. Where substantially all the risks and rewards of ownership of a leased property are borne by the entity, it is recorded as a non-current asset and a corresponding payable recorded in respect of the debt due to the lessor, with the interest element of the finance lease payment charged to the outturn statement. Leases other than finance leases are treated as operating leases, and rentals payable in respect of operating leases will be charged to the outturn statement on a straight line basis over the term of the lease.
The Scottish Government as an employer
Present and past employees are covered by the provisions of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) which is a defined benefit scheme and is unfunded. Portfolios, agencies and other bodies covered by the PCSPS recognise the expected cost of providing pensions for their employees on a systematic and rational basis over the period during which they benefit from their services by payment to the PCSPS of amounts calculated on an accruing basis (relevant disclosures are reported in the Remuneration and Staff Report). Liability for the payment of future benefits is a charge to the PCSPS. Separate scheme statements for the PCSPS as a whole are published.
The Scottish Government as a scheme administrator
Expenditure reported within Portfolio Outturn Statements includes grant in aid to bodies sponsored by the Scottish Government, which covers pension related expenditure in respect of pension schemes operated by the sponsored body for their eligible employees. The arrangements for these pension schemes are reported and explained in the annual accounts of the relevant bodies.
The NHS Bodies in Scotland participate in the National Health Service Superannuation Scheme for Scotland which is a notional defined benefit scheme where contributions are credited to the Exchequer and the balance in the account is deemed to be invested in a portfolio of Government securities. The pension cost is assessed every five years by the Government Actuary; details of the most recent actuarial valuation can be found in the separate statement of the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA).
Additional pension liabilities arising from early retirements are not funded by the scheme except where the retirement is due to ill health. The full amount of the liability for the additional costs is charged to the outturn statement at the time the Board commits itself to the retirement, regardless of the method of payment.
IAS 37 Provisions, Contingent Liabilities and Contingent Assets applies in full, and in these accounts provisions are made for legal or constructive obligations which are of uncertain timing or amount at the statement of financial position date on the basis of the best estimate of the expenditure required to settle the obligation. Where material, they have been discounted using the appropriate discount rate as prescribed by HM Treasury.
The provision is established to reflect the debt sale subsidy.
Early Departure Costs
The Scottish Government is required to meet the additional cost of benefits beyond the normal PCSPS benefits in respect of employees who retired early, prior to 2011. The Scottish Government provides in full for this cost when the early retirement programme has been announced and is binding.
CNORIS is a risk transfer and financing scheme for NHS Scotland, which was first established in 1999. Its primary objective is to provide cost-effective risk pooling and claims management arrangements for Scotland's NHS Health Boards and Special Health Boards.
A full accounting review was undertaken during 2014/15. The purpose of the review was to ensure that both NHS Boards and the Scottish Government apply the most appropriate accounting treatment.
The outcome of the review is that, as a result of participation in the CNORIS scheme, NHS Boards are now required to create a separate related, but distinct, provision recognising their respective shares of the total CNORIS national scheme liability. This is in addition to the recognition by NHS Boards of a provision for individual claims against their Board along with an associated debtor. The recognition of the separate provision is a technical accounting adjustment to more appropriately reflect the underlying substance of Boards' liabilities.
On consolidation into the Scottish Government accounts, the Scottish Government's CNORIS provision represents the national scheme liability and the Boards' accounting for individual claims is removed.
In terms of accounting for the CNORIS scheme, NHS bodies provide for all claims notified to the NHS Central Legal Office (CLO) according to the value of the claim and the probability of settlement. Claims assessed as 'Category 3' are deemed most likely and provided for in full, those in 'Category 2' as 50% of the claim and those in 'Category 1' as nil. In conjunction with the CLO, Boards may take a different view on the appropriate level of provision for 'Category 2' claims, and may apply a different percentage in calculating the associated provision. The balance of the value of claims not provided for is disclosed as a contingent liability. This procedure is intended to estimate the amount considered to be the liability in respect of any claims outstanding.
1.18 Contingent Liabilities
Contingent liabilities include those required to be disclosed under IAS 37 Provisions, Contingent Liabilities and Contingent Assets and other liabilities arising from indemnities and guarantees (which are not financial guarantee contracts) included for parliamentary reporting and accountability. Portfolios must seek the prior approval of Parliament, via the Finance Committee, before entering into any specific guarantee, indemnity or letter or statement of comfort unless it arises in the normal course of business or the sum of the risk is £1m or less.
1.19 Value Added Tax (VAT)
Most of the activities of the Scottish Government are outside the scope of VAT, and in general output tax does not apply and input tax on purchases is not recoverable. Irrecoverable VAT is charged to the relevant expenditure category or included in the capitalised purchase cost of fixed assets. Where output tax is charged or input VAT is recoverable, the amounts are stated net of VAT.
1.20 Segmental Reporting
IFRS 8 Segmental Reporting requires operating segments to be identified on the basis of internal reports about components of the Scottish Government and its consolidated bodies that are regularly reviewed by the chief operating decision maker in order to allocate resources to the segments and assess their performance. The Scottish Government reports segmental information within its outturn statements which are prepared on the basis of Ministerial portfolios.
1.21 Trade Receivables
Trade receivables are recognised initially at fair value and subsequently measured at amortised cost using the effective interest method, less an estimate of likely impairment. Impairment of trade receivables is made where there is objective evidence that the Scottish Government will not be able to collect all amounts due according to the original terms of the receivables.
1.22 Cash and Cash Equivalents
Cash and cash equivalents includes cash in hand, deposits held at call with banks, other short-term highly liquid investments with original maturities of three months or less, and bank overdrafts. Bank overdrafts are shown within borrowings in current liabilities on the statement of financial position. Balances are analysed between those held with the Government Banking Service and balances held in commercial banks.
1.23 Trade Payables
Trade payables are recognised initially at fair value and subsequently measured at amortised cost using the effective interest method.
1.24 Short Term Employee Benefits
A liability and an expense is recognised for holiday days, holiday pay, bonuses and other short-term benefits when the employees render service that increases their entitlement to these benefits. As a result an accrual has been made for holidays earned but not taken.
1.25 New Accounting Standards
A number of new accounting standards have been issued or amendments made to existing standards, but do not come in to force until future accounting periods and therefore are not yet applied. All new standards issued and amendments made to existing standards are reviewed by Financial Reporting and Advisory Board (FRAB) for subsequent inclusion in the FReM in force for the year in which the changes become applicable. The standards that are considered relevant to Scottish Government and the anticipated impact on the consolidated accounts are as follows:
IFRS 9 – Financial Instruments
This standard was issued in November 2014, and is effective from accounting periods starting after 1 January 2018. The adoption of this standard could change the classification and measurement of financial assets. The impact is not yet determined.
IFRS 16 – Leases
This standard will come into effect for accounting periods beginning after 1 January 2019, when the distinction between finance and operating leases is removed and all leases become "on balance sheet". FRAB will consider if this standard is to be adapted or applied in full although it is anticipated that the principles of the standard will be applied.
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