ESFA extends deadline for academy accounts amid Covid 'challenges'

Academy trusts will be given an extra month to submit their audited financial statements and accounts returns because of “challenges” presented by Covid-19.

In a letter to academy accounting officers, Education and Skills Funding Agency chief executive Eileen Milner said the deadline for submission of financial statements for the year ending August 31 2020 would be extended, from December 31 to January 31.

Trusts will need to submit their auditor’s management letter, accounts submission coversheet and internal scrutiny annual report at the same time as their financial statements.

The deadline for submitting accounts returns will also be extended, from January 19 to February 23, and trusts will have until the end of February to publish their financial statements on their websites, rather than the end of January.

The launch date for academy land and buildings collection tool has also been pushed back by five weeks, to November 12.

Milner said it was “incredibly important” that trusts achieve the extended deadlines “as we rely on your financial statements to provide timely assurance to Parliament that money is well-managed in the sector”.

“I encourage you to aim for the usual deadline of December 31, but in the knowledge that the additional time is available should issues arise during your audit. You must also continue to publish your financial statements on the trust’s website promptly, but we are providing an additional month, to February 28 2021, for you to do this too.

“I also want to emphasise that the extension we are offering is for the year ended August 31 2020 only, and you should work on the basis that the timetable will revert to its usual pattern the following year.”