Finance Briefings February 2023

Updated threshold for publication to Contracts Finder


The government has increased the threshold for Contracts Finder from £25,000 to £30,000

On 21 December 2022, the Public Contracts (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force and updated the de minimis thresholds for publication of contract notices and contract award notices to Contracts Finder.

Where the estimated total value of a contract exceeds £30,000 including VAT, a council is required to advertise the opportunity on the Contracts Finder website if it publishes an open invitation to quote/tender.

Public contracts, with an estimated value, including VAT, over:
  • £213,477 (previously 189,330 ex VAT) for goods or services, or
  • £5,336,937 (previously £4,733,252 ex VAT) for public works (construction),
must comply with the full requirements of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and advertise on both the Contracts Finder website and Find-a-Tender (the UK e-notification service).

Even where a contract value falls below the threshold for the full application of the procurement regulations, if the value of the contract is over £30,000, detail of its award must be published to the Contracts Finder website .

A full advice note is now available on the SALC website in the LTNs & Guidance page of the Knowledge Hub

VAT on sports services SEE NEWS UPDATE MARCH 2023

HMRC concedes that charges for council sports facilities are a non-business activity and outside the scope of VAT.  Affected councils might be able to reclaim additional VAT relating to the last 4 years.

HMRC’s existing guidance is that local authority sports and leisure services can either be taxable or exempt from VAT. This position has been challenged in the courts through multiple actions over several years.

The case of Chelmsford City Council [2020] found that such services are provided under a ‘special legal regime’ and can be treated as non-business providing it does not give rise to ‘significant distortions of competition’. 

On 26 January 2023, HMRC advised Chelmsford City Council that it accepts that local authority sports services can be treated as non-business and outside the scope of VAT. HMRC has yet to issue any further guidance on the matter, or what steps councils should take to recover VAT.

The advice note can be read on the LTNs & Guidance page of the Knowledge Hub and suggests actions affected council should consider taking now.    

Royal Coronation and VAT

The Coronation of His Majesty The King takes place on 6 May 2023, and 8 May 2023 has been declared a bank holiday. Many parish and town councils are already organising community events and celebrations that might carry VAT implications.

Councils can always recover VAT on their non-business activities, regardless of whether they are VAT-registered or use form VAT 126. However, the rules change when a council plans to make a charge for activities and goods.

For information on how VAT might apply to your council’s events, see ‘Briefing on VAT Royal Coronation’ on the LTNs & Guidance page of the Knowledge Hub. 

NALC has set up a dedicated coronation webpage which will be updated about the Coronation weekend as more information becomes available.

NALC Partners with the Internal Audit Forum

The SALC advice service frequently receives questions from town and parish councils in need of an internal auditor and NALC has now announced that it has started a new partnership with the Internal Audit Forum (IAF).

The IAF was established with the aim of becoming “the voice for local council audit”, supporting parish & town councils large and small. It has been involved in re-writing section 5 of the Practitioner’s Guide & states it offers councils a uniform, high standard of service.

The Forum comprises over 80 professional members, including qualified accountants, experienced clerks, and county officers.

For more information and to make contact with a qualified service provider, see the website: Internal Audit Forum

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