Scottish Public Finance Manual

The Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM) is issued by the Scottish Ministers to provide guidance on the proper handling and reporting of public funds.

Management of assets property guidance

Application and interpretation

1. This Guidance is intended to be read alongside Property: Acquisition, Disposal and Management and is designed to provide further information on the management of property, plant and equipment i.e. property rights in land and buildings, plant, machinery and vehicles.

2. Any queries on the application or interpretation of the Guidance should be referred to Property Division. Property Division is also happy to advise on any specific points arising from any of the Guidance. Contact


3. Accountable Officers have a duty to ensure that the assets for which they are responsible, such as land, buildings or other property – including stores and equipment – are properly and well managed. Robust systems should be put in place to ensure that the accuracy and integrity of information held on registers, databases and inventories is safeguarded and readily available for inspection.

4. The Corporate Reporting Division within the SG’s Directorate for Financial Management maintains the asset register for the core SG but relevant business areas are responsible for the management of their assets and for providing information to ensure that the register is accurate and up to date. Relevant business areas are also responsible for maintaining local asset and investment registers, records of attractive items and systems for the management of stores and equipment. All other bodies to whom this guidance applies are required to maintain their own asset registers.

Asset registers

5. Under resource accounting and budgeting, asset registers are a key part of financial management systems and must be capable of meeting the accounting requirements of the Government Financial Reporting Manual. The registers should contain details of all owned, non-current assets, whose value or original purchase price is over the organisation's capitalisation threshold. Asset registers should normally be computerised and the widespread use of commercial asset management software packages means that the structure and detail held will be dictated by the software but, as a minimum, information held should be capable of maintaining Asset Registers and provide data to calculate capital charges. 

6. The minimum information required for the Asset Register is:

  • Asset identification and description
  • Asset location
  • Date of acquisition (i.e. purchase date)
  • Initial capital expenditure (purchase price)
  • Useful economic life of the asset
  • User cost centre
  • Source of funds (e.g. Government, donation, leased)

7. Business areas within the core SG should ensure that the Directorate for Financial Management is made aware of all acquisitions of property, whether for accommodation or for other purposes, in order that they can be listed on the asset register.

8. Records of "attractive" items (e.g. those vulnerable to theft) whose value falls below the capitalisation threshold should also be maintained by the holding body. Inventories of works of art should be kept in accordance with advice provided by the Government Art Collection. 

Electronic Property information Mapping (ePIMSTM)

9. ePIMSTM is the Government’s property database. It is the responsibility of each business area to ensure that the assets for which it is responsible are accurately listed. All accommodation properties must be listed including, but not limited to, information on lease or ownership, building and utility costs, details of the building area and number of workstations.

10. Access to ePIMSTM is via the ePIMS website. For assistance with information listings, please contact Property Division.

Investment registers

11. Investment registers recording details of any loans or shares held, including their cost and their nominal value should be maintained. Holdings of share certificates and securities should be checked at appropriate intervals by a responsible officer who should be independent of the officer responsible for holding the securities and the register of them. Checks should also be undertaken when the officer responsible for holding the securities and the register of them leaves post. 

Land and property assets

12. Physical records (originals or copies) of land and property assets that should be readily available for inspection include: property titles, leases or subleases, licences or grazing lets, title plans showing ownership boundaries, the boundaries of different leasehold interests, the line of any servitudes, pipelines or wayleaves, tenancy agreements of any dwellings, planting agreements, mineral extraction rights, lists of any tenants’ improvements, and full information on the last rent review including the level of rent, the basis of assessment and any third party decision, and any photographic record of the condition of the property. Property Division and the SG’s appointed solicitors provide storage space for important property records and if bodies wish to avail themselves of this facility, they should contact Property Division. It is strongly recommended that bodies use this service for storage of such documents, including title and lease documents, except where alternative arrangement have been made for secure storage. In this case, Property Division must be notified of which documents are stored where.

13. Where rental charge is to be levied, it should be assessed by a suitably qualified and experienced valuer, except where the asset is judged to have an annual worth of less than £2,000 per annum gross. A suitably qualified and experienced internal valuer may be used unless the matter is deemed to be novel or contentious, or if there is any other professional reason why the internal valuer should not act. The valuation basis is to be Market Rent, as defined in the international Valuation Standards (and used by the RICS in its ‘Red Book’ RICS Valuation Professional Standards.) Rent should be reviewed periodically at the intervals specified in the lease by a suitably qualified valuer, experienced in the type of property and the locality. (Business areas within the Scottish Administration may obtain these services through one of the framework agreements to which the Scottish Administration has access. Property Division can advise on the best framework agreement to use in particular cases or on the appointment of professional advisers, should a decision be made for the services to be put out to tender.)

Property held under crofting tenure

14. Any land held under crofting tenure is subject to specific legislation which must be complied with. Notwithstanding that, good estate management must be exercised in the handing of these assets.

Stores and equipment

15. Systems should be put in place for the management of stores and equipment. Such systems should be designed to ensure that only necessary stock is kept, at a level appropriate for needs. Stores and equipment are often ‘attractive’ so care should be taken to put in place systems which minimise the possibility of fraud and theft, through robust control procedures.

Loans of assets or stores and equipment

16. Loans of assets or stores and equipment should be for a specified period. The terms of loans should be clearly defined, and should cover the question of liability for damage or non-return. As a general rule, a commercial hire or rental charge should be made. Income foregone where individuals or bodies are given the use of resources free of charge or at concessionary rates may constitute a Gift under the terms of the guidance on that subject.

Annual accounts 

17. Acquisitions, disposal and losses of assets etc. during a financial year should be noted in the annual accounts. Individual losses of more than £250,000 should be noted separately in accordance with the guidance on Losses and Special Payments


Page Reviewed: August 2018

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