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CFDG activity

Information about activities undertaken by the Colleges' Finance Directors' Group (CFDG)

College accounting-year ends

The reclassification of colleges to the public sector has created a risk that the Department for Education will insist on a year end change from 31 July to 31 March. Public sector status means that DfE and ESFA officials will be consolidating college accounts into government accounts. They already do this with academies but there has been a decade's worth of difficulty because, initially, academy consolidation resulted in delays and audit qualifications on the DfE's own accounts but, more recently, the National Audit Office has qualified the Whole of Government Accounts (see page 210) because of the "assurance gap created by non coterminous academy year ends", HMT produces Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) which consolidates 10,000 sets of accounts with a 31 March year end. There were several reasons for NAO's most recent qualification but the academy issue was top of their list.

This is the context for HM Treasury pressure on DFE to change the college year end to 31 March with 31 March 2026 being the most likely date when this would first happen.

No decision has been made on this but everyone who knows anything about college finance fears a change could result in delayed accounts, mass audit qualifications, wrecked college finances, diverted effort and bad publicity for colleges

All the members of the national College Finance Directors Group wrote on 3 May 2023 to the chief executive of the ESFA, David Withey, asking for proper consultation and consideration of all the issues involved in this process before any decision is made. The letter is here

CFDG letter on change of year end 3 5 23

AoC's chief executive, David Hughes, wrote letters on 29 April 2023 to the chairs of the Public Accounts, Treasury and Education committees alerting them to the potential risks, suggesting some actions that would be needed for a longer term plan and asking them to cover this in future Committee work

Ao C letter year end PAC 28 4 23

Minutes from recent meetings are available here:

Colleges Finance Directors Group