«MINUTES OF THE 127th FRAB MEETING HELD ON THURSDAY 23 June MARCH 2016 AT HM TREASURY Present: Katheryn Cearns (Chair) Russell Frith (observer) Andrew ...»
Analysis of WGA has identified key players for whom the Standard is likely to have an impact but what it masks are intra-government lease type arrangements which will have been eliminated but still accounted for in the individual accounts. Further work is needed to explore the departmental and sector landscapes.
The Chair asked, with regard to intra government leasing arrangements, what would be the impact of the new property model. Andrew Baigent explained that the timetable of transferring the properties would be staggered over the coming years so there would not be one big impact. Existing leases coming to an end and those nearing break clauses are being considered on a case by case basis. He also mentioned that the unit would be holding central government assets and the NHS assets were not affected.
Larry Honeysett asked whether there was any way of avoiding the misalignment between accounts and budgets. David Hobbs explained that this was unlikely; whilst ESA10 was more aligned with IAS 17, the framework was unlikely to change in time for IFRS 16 introduction. The Chair indicated the analogy with PFI highlighted in the paper was most relevant here. The Chair indicated that IFRS 16 would be interesting from an endorsement perspective. Veronica Poole confirmed that and effects analysis was to be commissioned shortly.
Andrew Baigent emphasized that running two systems was very expensive and difficult. The way in which the public sector engages with the lease market is based on the budgetary classification so there is a fundamental value for money question as well as an accounting question. Andrew had already started to see a change in the lease market and would be very worried about any real cost for the NHS and other organisations arising from a misaligned framework.
The Chair stated that the Board would want to know whether the issues on intra-government leases and the costs Andrew Baigent highlighted was specifically a public sector issue or a general market issue. Questions were raised by members on how one might reliably measure the wider economic costs of moving towards IFRS 16.
The Chair indicated it was for the new chair to determine the way forward but suggested that a draft timetable presented to the Board highlighting key points where a decision to proceed needs to be undertaken. A programme of issue papers should also be established to understand the impacts of implementation, teasing out the issues such as intra-government leases; application of the $5,000 exemption; transitional arrangements and market impacts.
The Chair concluded that if relevant authorities suggest that IFRS 16 should not be adopted, there must be a very strong case not to do so, supported by a firm evidence base. She also noted that it will be interesting to see how the private sector react to implementing the new Standard.
Bob Branson explained he was on the finance task and finish group for the new property model and indicated his preference for the FRAB to consider the accounting issues. The Chair indicated there were a number of accounting issues that would need to be considered such as property valuations, transfers and rents on freehold properties.
The Treasury stated that the policy was still in development and accounting issues are being worked through. The question would be whether the FReM provided sufficient scope to address these issues or whether there would be any need to change the FReM (or allow a significant exemption). In the case of the latter the Board would need to be presented with the case for such a change. The Chair cautioned on the need to consider the accounting issues before the policy is finalised.
Item 5: CIPFA/LASAAC update CIPFA/LASAAC met in June where it discussed proposed changes to the 2017/18 Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in the United Kingdom (the Code). Key areas of the Code that are changing are: narrative reporting based on International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) Framework elements and which were considered to meet the major FReM requirements; tidying up of going concern and accounting policy reporting; proposed reporting requirements for IFRS 9 and IFRS 15 and a request for volunteers to assess the implications of IFRS 16.
Vicky Rock asked for explanations on IFRS 15, as discussed earlier, on the definition of a contract and the applicability to council tax and Non Domestic Rates. This should link the CIPFA/LASAAC and Treasury Exposure Drafts. There was also a need to consider the expected loss model for taxes under IFRS 9 in order to avoid issues at a WGA level.
The Chair asked how much of a challenge implementing the narrative reporting would be and the reaction of local government. Alison Scott explained that she expected iterative improvement as this is a principles based approach.
Anthony Appleton thought the principles of narrative reporting in the annex were good but questioned implications of the cross reference to the IIRC integrated reporting. Was there a risk that preparers would look to undertake more of the IIRC requirements? Alison Scott explained that CIPFA/LASAAC were trying to move towards integrated reporting but were focused on the high level principles in the Code. They were not wedded to having a cross reference.
Anthony Appleton questioned the approach that LOBOs were assumed to be at amortised cost. This has caused problems for the FRC when developing UK GAAP as there was a possibility that some contained embedded derivatives. Within housing associations as an example there were so many variations that the FRC could not mandate an approach. As there was not a caveat to allow for embedded derivatives, there could be a risk that preparers would assume one approach. Sarah Sheen pointed out that paragraph 188.8.131.52 indicated that where an authority considered that the LOBO included an embedded derivative it should be accounted for as such. It was agreed that this commentary should be included explicitly in paragraph 184.108.40.206 of the Exposure Draft.
Item 6: Any other business The Treasury provided a short update on European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSAS). The working group of Member State representatives would meet in July where they will have reports from the various cells (first time implementation, governance and standards etc.) as well as an analysis from EY looking at IPSAS and the choices that could be mandated to enable alignment with government finance statistics. A detailed update would be provided at the November meeting.
The Chair updated on the first meeting of the IPSASB Consultative Advisory Group whose deliberations included consideration of the social benefits and revenue projects. There was still concern about the scope of the social benefits project and there was a risk that healthcare may be included. IPSASB are looking at widening the scope of their revenue project where IFRS 15 principles could be applied to enable a mirroring of transactions for non-exhange expenses. Overall IPSASB were being very ambitious in their timetable for reviewing a number of significant standards by 2019-20.
Andrew Baigent explained he would like to present the Health Manual as an out of committee paper so it can be approved before the November meeting. Andrew Buchanan and Vicky Rock volunteered to review the manual for approval.
Andrew also went on to thank the Chair for her time on the FRAB highlighting anecdotes from her original interview panel. He highlighted that the Chair had been constructive, working outside of the formal meetings and forging strong relationships. She has set the bar very high for the new Chair.
The Chair thanked the Board highlighting how fascinating it was to work on a number of challenging issues within the public sector. She praised the staff and the Board on being very constructive and is confident that the new Chair will be equally as challenging. She wished the Board good luck and will be looking forward to reading the next WGA!