End of year accounts

How to prepare for an end of year review of your unit accounts

How to prepare for the end of year financial review

This guidance is part of our finance procedures.

All guiding units and levels, whether registered as charities or not, must prepare annual accounts. And their accounts must be independently reviewed.

The exact legal requirements of this will vary depending on income and country. The accounts must also be available to view if anyone asks and may need to be shared with the Charity Regulator.

Country and region accounts must be sent to the Finance and business development department at Girlguiding Headquarter, copies of Scottish county accounts must be sent to Business management and finance at Scotland HQ for information and review.

Check our Finance policy as well as this guidance to help you prepare for your end of year review.

What do I need to do?

If your unit or level is registered with the Charity Regulator, there will be additional legal requirements to meet as part of the end of year review of accounts.

You should keep the financial information section of GO for your unit or level up to date. This will help you to keep track of key information, and is very helpful for your commissioner.

Do I need to register my unit or level as a charity?

In England and Wales, most units and levels are classed as "excepted charities". This means that they do not need to register with the Charity Commission.

You will need to register with the Charity Commission if you meet any of the following criteria. This means you'll need to do some additional steps in your end of year accounts.

  • Units or levels whose income is more than £100,000
  • Units or levels that have a permanent endowment and their income is more than £5,000
  • Units or levels that own land or buildings and their income is more than £5,000

If you're not registered as a charity

If your unit or level's annual income is below £25,000 a year, you will need to:

  • Have an independent review of your unit or level’s accounts carried out.
  • Give your commissioner a copy of your annual accounts statement and statement of assets and liabilities, along with the signed and dated independent reviewer checklist and confirmation form, no more than 3 months after the end of the financial year.

If your unit or level's annual income is above £25,000, you will need to:

  • Have an independent review of your unit or level’s accounts carried out. As well as being a Girlguiding requirement, this is also a legal obligation.
  • Give your commissioner a copy of your annual accounts statement and statement of assets and liabilities, along with the signed and dated independent reviewer checklist and confirmation form no more than 3 months after the end of the financial year.
  • File accounts, annual returns and a trustees’ annual report with the Charity Commission within 10 months of the end of the financial year.

If you are registered as a charity

If your unit or level's annual income is below £10,000 a year, you will need to:

  • Prepare and submit a trustees’ annual report to the Charity Commission.
  • Complete limited sections of the annual return for the Charity Commission within 10 months of the end of the financial year.
  • Have an independent review of your unit or level’s accounts carried out.
  • Give your commissioner a copy of your annual accounts statement and statement of assets and liabilities, along with the signed and dated independent reviewer checklist and confirmation form no more than 3 months after the end of the financial year.

If your unit or level's annual income is between £10,000 and £250,000 a year, you will need to:

  • Prepare and submit a trustees’ annual report to the Charity Commission.
  • File your annual return with the Charity Commission within 10 months of the end of the financial year.
  • Have an independent review of your unit or level’s accounts carried out.
  • Provide your commissioner with a copy of your annual accounts statement and statement of assets and liabilities along with the signed and dated independent reviewer checklist and confirmation form no more than 3 months after the end of the financial year.

If your unit or level's annual income is above £250,000 a year, you will need to:

  • Prepare and submit a trustees’ annual report to the Charity Commission.
  • Prepare accruals accounts.
  • Have an independent review of your unit or level’s accounts carried out by a registered or qualified auditor, as required by the Charity Commission.
  • File your annual return, trustees’ annual report and accounts with the Charity Commission within 10 months of the end of the financial year.
  • Provide your commissioner with a copy of your annual accounts statement and statement of assets and liabilities, along with the signed and dated independent examiner’s report no more than 3 months after the end of the financial year.

The Charity Commission needs accounts and other documents to be submitted within 10 months of the end of the financial year. Girlguiding need accounts to be sent to your commissioner within 3 months of the end of the financial year. To avoid doubling-up on work, we recommend you submit your accounts to the Charity Commission at the same time.

To ensure you are fulfilling your legal obligations, check the Charity Commission website.

Do I need to register my unit or level as a charity?

Units and levels can decide if they want to register as a charity with the Office of Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). If you don’t register with OSCR you won’t be able to claim Gift Aid, and you may be restricted in what funding you can apply for.

For more information visit the Girlguiding Scotland website.

If you're not registered as a charity

If your unit or level is not registered as a charity:

  • You will need an independent review of your unit or level’s accounts carried out.
  • You must give your commissioner a copy of your annual accounts statement and statement of assets and liabilities, along with the signed and dated independent reviewer checklist and confirmation form, or the independent examination certificate included in the Scottish unit accounts pack, no more than 3 months after the end of the financial year.

You can use the Girlguiding accounts pack, or the Scotland-specific accounts pack to help with this.

If you are registered as a charity

If your unit or level’s income is below £250,000 you will need to:

  • Have an independent review of your unit or level’s accounts carried out. This is a legal requirement of OSCR.
  • Provide your commissioner with a copy of your annual accounts statement and statement of assets and liabilities, along with the signed and dated independent examination certificate, included in the Scottish unit accounts pack, no more than 3 months after the end of the financial year.
  • Within 9 months of the end of the financial year, provide OSCR with:
    • A trustee report.
    • An independent examiner report.
    • A statement of receipts and payments with prior year comparatives.
    • A statement of balances as at the last day of the financial year and opening balances.
    • Notes to the accounts.

If your unit or level’s income is above £250,000 you will need to:

  • Have an independent review of your unit or level’s accounts carried out by a member of a listed professional body. This is a legal requirement of OSCR.
  • Provide your commissioner with a copy of your annual accounts statement and statement of assets and liabilities, along with the signed and dated independent examination certificate, included in the Scottish unit accounts pack, no more than 3 months after the end of the financial year.
  • Within 9 months of the end of the financial year, provide OSCR with fully accrued accounts, prepared in accordance with the Statement of Recommended Practice (the SORP), including
    • A trustee report.
    • An independent examiner report.
    • A statement of financial activities.
    • A balance sheet and statement of cash flows.
    • Notes to the accounts.

While OSCR requires accounts and other documents to be submitted within 9 months of the end of the financial year, it's a Girlguiding requirement for accounts to be submitted to your commissioner within 3 months of the end of the financial year. To avoid duplicating work, we recommend you submit your accounts to OSCR at the same time.

You may use the Scottish unit accounts pack to help you create the statement and reports. The accounts pack includes everything to ensure you are fulfilling your legal obligations.

For further information, check the OSCR website.

Do I need to register my unit or level as a charity?

All units and levels operating in Northern Ireland must be registered with the Charity Commission NI. For help with this, speak to your local commissioner or email [email protected].

What you need for end of year review

If your unit or level’s income is below £250,000, you will need to:

  • Have an independent review of your unit or level’s accounts carried out. This is a legal requirement of the Charity Commission NI.
  • Give your commissioner a copy of your annual accounts statement and statement of assets and liabilities, along with the signed and dated independent examiner’s report no more than 3 months after the end of the financial year.
  • Submit the following to the Charity Commission NI:

If your unit or level’s income is above £250,000, you will need to:

  • Have an independent review of your unit or level’s accounts carried out by a member of a listed professional body. This is a legal requirement of the Charity Commission NI.
  • Provide your commissioner with a copy of your annual accounts statement and statement of assets and liabilities, along with the signed and dated independent examiner’s report no more than 3 months after the end of the financial year.
  • Submit the following to the Charity Commission NI:
    • An annual monitoring return.
    • Accruals accounts, prepared in accordance with the Statement of Recommended Practice (the SORP).
    • Trustees’ annual report.

While the Charity Commission NI requires accounts and other documents to be submitted within 10 months of the end of the financial year, it is a Girlguiding requirement for accounts to be submitted to your commissioner within 3 months of the end of the financial year. To avoid duplicating work, we recommend you submit your accounts to the Commission at the same time.

To ensure you are fulfilling your legal obligations, check the Charity Commission NI website.

Girlguiding requires you to have your accounts reviewed annually. You should also make sure that you are following local laws regarding handling money.

You will need an independent review of your unit or level’s accounts carried out.

You must also provide your commissioner with a copy of your annual accounts statement and statement of assets and liabilities, along with the signed and dated independent reviewer checklist and confirmation form no more than 3 months after the end of the financial year.

You can use the Girlguiding accounts pack to assist with this.

How do I prepare the statements I need?

All units and levels need an annual accounts statement and a statement of assets and liabilities. If you’ve never prepared these before, it may seem intimidating – but it’s not as difficult as it sounds!

Annual accounts statement

This shows information about your income and your spending. As long as your unit or level has been keeping your accounts records up to date throughout the year, this will be easy. If you use our accounts pack there's a tab which will automatically be filled in with the details you need.

Statement of assets and liabilities

These show your assets, which is anything of value that the unit owns, including valuable equipment, land, buildings, investments, as well as any cash or money you have in the bank.

It also needs to show your liabilities, which means anything you owe. Usually this is sums of money.

The statement should list your:

  • Cash and bank balances - how much petty cash you have and what's in the unit’s bank account. Be aware of cheques paid in that have not cleared. And cheques paid to suppliers that might not have been cashed.
  • Equipment – this is the value of your equipment. Include valuable equipment here like tents, flags, tables, laptops, tablets and other devices.
  • Other high value assets such as land, buildings or investments.
  • Any other amounts that might be owed to you or by you.

Once you have completed these statements you need to have your accounts independently reviewed.

What is an independent review or examination?

An independent review or examination gives an outside check on a charity’s, or unit/level’s, accounts. It involves reviewing the accounting records kept by the charity and comparing the accounts to the records kept. It also looks for unusual spending.

For a review or examination to take place, you need to give the independent reviewer or examiner your annual accounts statement with your statement of assets and liabilities, and all supporting documents. This could include:

  • Budget for the year
  • Cash account pages
  • Bank statements
  • Paying in slips
  • Cheque book stubs
  • Invoices
  • Receipts
  • Details of any Gift Aid income. Do not share any names or addresses
  • Attendance registers
  • Subscription records, like your membership records
  • Proof of authorisation, by another signatory, for transactions made without dual authorisation
  • Any other financial documents that the reviewer asks for

You also need to give the reviewer the contact details for your local commissioner, in case they need to raise any issues.

Who can carry out an independent review or examination?

Any competent, responsible and financially confident person can review or examine the accounts, but they must not be:

  • A member of the unit’s leadership team
  • A signatory of the bank account
  • Related to anyone within the unit

If the income of your unit or level is more than £250,000, the independent reviewer will need to be registered with a professional body or a registered or qualified auditor. Check what's required for your country or region.

The leadership team is responsible for having the unit accounts independently reviewed or examined each year. The local commissioner‘s role is to make sure this is done. In many some cases, a commissioner will appoint someone to review all the accounts across their whole area. Check out our outline of commissioner responsibilities for accounts (PDF)

If you're struggling to find someone who will do the independent review, you can think about hiring an accountant. Make sure to budget for the cost of this, and if you’re lucky they might be willing to do it for a modest charge!

How do I carry out an independent review or examination?

If you've been asked to do an independent review or examination of  end of year accounts, it’s important you understand what that involves.

You should check the following:

  • A bank account exists in the name of the unit or level, and most income is recorded here.
  • Spending and income are accurately recorded across financial records, including bank statements, paying in books, cheque books, invoices and receipts.
  • Any grant money received has been spent on the correct purpose.
  • Cash held by the leadership team is minimal.
  • Any money collected for another charity has been passed on appropriately.

You should raise as a concern with the local commissioner if any of the following is present:

  • Money is unaccounted for.
  • Spending is excessive or inappropriate.
  • Bills have not been paid on time, like rent for the meeting place.

If you're not able to contact the local commissioner, you should contact the country/region office or Girlguiding HQ.

Once you've reviewed the accounts, you might need to create a report for the charity’s trustees. The requirements of this will depend on the income of the unit/level, the country they are operating in, and whether they are registered as a charity. See the country-specific information to check whether a formal report is required.

Where a report is not required by the Charity Regulator, this checklist and confirmation form must be completed to confirm that the independent review has been carried out in line with Girlguiding’s requirements.

Your name and contact details are included on this form so that a commissioner can get in touch if they need to verify information or discuss any issues you may have raised with the accounts.

Download the independent review checklist and confirmation form (PDF).

Not completing the end of year review process for your unit or level’s accounts is a breach of the finance policy. This may lead to a sanction on your membership. If you have concerns about completing these processes, speak to your commissioner as soon as possible.

What do I need to do as a commissioner?

As a local commissioner, it's your responsibility to make sure the accounts of the units and levels below have been produced and reviewed appropriately.

Each unit must provide you with a copy of their annual accounts statement, statement of assets and liabilities and evidence that the independent review has been carried out.

This must be either the Girlguiding independent reviewer’s checklist and confirmation form, the Girlguiding Scotland independent examination certificate, or an independent examiner’s report as defined by the country’s Charity Regulator.

If you have concerns about the accounts, or that the independent review may not have been carried out to the right standard, you should request to see additional financial information relating to the unit and escalate concerns to the next commissioner.

See our guidance on commissioners responsibilities for unit accounts (PDF)