In theory, this will result in approximately 80% of the accounts return being automatically populated from each academy trust’s own financial ledger system.
The accounts return automation system is currently not being widely used by academy trusts, but it is expected to be taken up by many more academies during the 2021/22 financial year as each accounting software company markets the benefits. The Department for Education (DfE) recently jointly hosted a virtual meeting with one of the software providers to open up a discussion regarding the plan for automation.
In order to automate the accounts return system each academy trust is required to map their own accounting ledgers to be in agreement with the DfE mapped spreadsheet. The DfE mapped spreadsheet will be updated each May. Trusts, or the provider of the ledger system software, will then map any changes to their own accounting systems.
Any late amendments to the accounts return template, which is not normally finalised until October/November each year, would not be included in the DfE mapped spreadsheet. However, any such changes would simply be listed as additional amendments to be made manually on the face of the Accounts Return.
Each trust would be required to upload their mapped ledger to the DfE accounts return portal in November/December each year once the audited accounts have been finalised. The trust’s external auditors would then be expected to review the accounts return entries and make any edited changes.
If you have not adopted the DfE chart of accounts yet; are considering implementing a new ledger system in order to; or have any concerns about the accounts return process, please contact your local UHY academy specialist to discuss further.