End-of-year accounts for 2021 – branch audits

Information for honorary branch auditors, from UNISON head of audit John Nagle

Branch treasurers have received notification of the procedures to apply on the closedown of the Online Branch Accounts package (OLBA) for 2021.

The branch authorisation sheet, which includes the branch auditors’ statement, must be signed by the branch auditor(s) and then scanned and uploaded into OLBA. The branch treasurer and branch auditor(s) can print, sign and upload separate copies of the authorisation sheet.

This is the procedure which was introduced last year. Your treasurer will also be required to upload statements for all non-Unity Trust bank/building society accounts.

Branch auditors act as representatives of your branch’s membership as a whole. It is essential that auditors are given enough time to complete the audit, in order for the branch to meet the 15 March deadline.

They need to make sure that the treasurer knows when they will need to start their audit work and agree a timetable. It is desirable for the audited accounts to have been presented to the branch’s AGM before the deadline date.

Auditors who are UNISON members should ensure that the RMS membership system records their auditor status. If it does not, they should ask their branch to contact their regional RMS team to update it.

Auditors who are not members – e.g. external accountants – should ask the branch secretary or treasurer to request access for them to the branch’s OLBA records. This can be done by email to olba@unison.co.uk

Auditors will again be carrying out their work in a changed environment. In many branches the auditor will be working remotely. The treasurer should bring the records to the auditor or post them. Royal Mail special delivery is recommended.

The other option is to upload documentation into OLBA or to scan the documentation to the auditors(s) – payments documentation, bank statements, minutes etc. This is a practical alternative in the current climate.

The branch auditor’s checklist, should be used to judge whether you have covered the main aspects of the branch audit.

If further detail is required, please see the Online Branch Accounting Audit Programme. This sets out the programme of work a branch auditor should aim to complete and can be accessed via the supporting documentation icon on the OLBA home screen.

Depending on how the branch organises its finances, the whole of the programme may not apply – e.g. many branches operate without petty cash.

The branch treasurer can make changes to the branch accounts up until the ‘generate authorisation sheet’ stage of the closedown process.

Should you wish to discuss any matters raised, please do not hesitate to contact John Nagle, Head of Audit, on 0207 121 5367, or Barry Lyons on 0207 121 5404.

Branch auditors’ checklist