Easy PC Accounts is a simple, web-based accounting package specifically designed for small to medium Parish Councils in England and Wales. It is essentially a cash book based system and, at present, can only produce accounts in the Receipts and Payments format, so is restricted to Councils whose gross income and expenditure is below the statutory limit (currently £200,000 per year). In addition we only currently support reclaiming VAT using the VAT126 procedure but are in the process of developing a module for those who are VAT registered. All the data is safely stored in the ‘cloud’ but you can backup your files onto your own computer for additional security.
The principal record in the software is the Cash Book which holds Transactions. There are basically three types of transaction, Receipts, Payments and Bank Transfers. These types of transaction are precisely what they seem:
- Receipts – money received by the Council such as the Precept, Bank Interest, Grants
- Payments – money paid out by the Council. There will usually be many more Payments than Receipts and they cover all the usual items of expenditure the Council incurs
- Bank transfers – these are sums of money that are moved between Bank Accounts. They will not affect the Council’s overall payments and receipts since they are purely internal
Every Receipt or Payment is associated with a bank account and with what is termed a Receipt Account Code or Payment Account Code. These codes allow the money received or paid by the Council to be analysed under a heading that indicates their purpose. If the Council has, up to now, been using an analysed cash book either on paper or a spreadsheet, then the Account Codes correspond to the columns in that cash book or spreadsheet.
Account codes are arranged into Account Groups which provide a structure to reports of receipts and payments. As a user you have complete control over the Account Groups and Account Codes and there is a simple, interactive interface to set them up.
As an example, here is a budget prepared for a Council showing Account Codes and Account groups.
The Account Groups are shown in bold and provide the higher level structure of the accounts. Within each Account Group are the Account Codes for the receipt or payment accounts. A sub-total is created for each group and a grand total for all payments and all receipts. The overall list of Account Groups and Account Codes is called the Chart of Accounts.
All transactions go through a bank account (two in the case of transfers). You can set up as many bank accounts as you wish.
Entering transactions is straightforward. For receipts and payments there is a single screen where you enter the details including Bank Account, Date, Account Code, Amount, VAT details and details of the Supplier (in the case of a payment) or Customer (in the case of a receipt). There is a tutorial and video illustrating this process.
Transactions can be edited or deleted, provided that they have not been included in a bank reconciliation or VAT has been claimed on them. All transactions can be reviewed via the Manage Transactions screen.
Bank reconciliation is an important part of the job of the RFO. The software includes a fully interactive process for carrying this out; you can see a video of this process by clicking on this link. The output is in the standard form recommended by ‘Governance and Accountability’ and can be printed out or saved for circulation to the Council. In addition, a more detailed report can be produced as described in the documentation.
The software keeps track of VAT and allows claims to be made using the special method for local councils. We are also developing software for Councils that are VAT registered and need to submit VAT100 claims.
The software provides a number of reports for the RFO and for Councillors.
Perhaps the most important is the Budget Report. It is good practice to circulate this at least quarterly to councillors, and the software allows the report to be produced including progress against budget both for a specific period and for year to date. Full documentation of this facility can be found here, but a typical report showing progress against budget for the first quarter of the 2019-2020 year is shown below (we only show the payments)
You will see that we have reported progress against profiled budgets which have been set up as described in the documentation. You will also see that some of the entries in the Actual column are underlined. This signifies that they are links which allow you to ‘drill down’ and see the transactions associated with this figure. For example, if you click on the ‘Stationery, postage and telephone’ figure you will see exactly what has been spent under that heading
This is the standard screen which corresponds to Manage Transactions so you can edit or even delete the transactions shown.
There is a built-in facility to generate the figures required in Section 2 of the Annual Governance and Accountability return. When account codes are set up, they are associated with a particular box in the AGAR so that generation of the report is just a single click on the appropriate menu. In the first year, the figures for the previous year are not available to complete the left-hand column; in subsequent years, the figures are automatically filled in.