Part 4: Particular responsibilities of Council members
B: Strategic planning and control
C: Openness and responsiveness
D: Annual report and accounts
Members of the Council are appointed by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on a part-time basis. To the extent permitted under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, the Council should therefore vest responsibility for day-to-day management matters in the Service's Chief Executive within a clearly understood framework of strategic control.
The Council may, however, decide to delegate responsibility for specified matters to individual Members or Committees of the Council.
The main task of the Council is the determination, within the statutory framework, of the key policy objectives and targets of the Service, with the oversight of strategic planning. Such targets will cover areas such as the Service's financial performance; the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations; and the quality of the services which it provides.
Members of the Council are responsible for providing Parliament (including its Select Committees) and the public with as full information as may be requested concerning the Service's policy decisions and actions. Members should ensure that they can demonstrate that Acas is using resources to good effect, with probity, and without grounds for criticism that public funds are being used for private, partisan or party political purposes. The Council and their staff should conduct all their dealings with the public in an open and responsible way, and ensure full compliance with Service First principles and the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
Council may be required to ensure that they can demonstrate that they are using resources to good effect, with propriety, and without grounds for criticism that the public funds are being used for private, partisan or party political purposes. Council will need to act consistently with the nature of Acas business and the need for confidentiality in some circumstances, always subject to the rights of Parliament and the Comptroller and Auditor General to obtain information. There should be internal procedures available to deal with complaints, including those on the failure to provide information.
As part of its responsibilities for the stewardship of public funds the Council must ensure that it includes a full statement of the use of such resources in the Service's Annual Report and Accounts. Such accounts are to be prepared in accordance with the Accounts Direction issued by Ministers together with such other guidance as may be issued, from time to time, by the Department of Trade and Industry and H M Treasury.
Council should produce an Annual Report and Accounts as a single document and should give it appropriate publicity. If the Annual Report is published separately, it should normally contain at least a summary of the annual accounts and in any case give details of how to obtain the full accounts. A statement by the auditors should be included within the summary to confirm that it is consistent with the annual accounts.
The Annual Report should provide a full description of the Service's activities; state the extent to which key strategic objectives and agreed financial objectives and other performance targets have been met; and list the names of the current Members of the Council. The Report should also provide details of remuneration of Council members and senior staff within the range of prescribed salary bands.
The Council is required to have an Audit Committee. The current arrangement is for the Audit Committee to be chaired by a Member of Council, who preferably has experience of financial matters and to include three other Council members, representing the various groupings on Council, the Acas Accounting Officer the Director of Resources, who will take special responsibility for money (including value for money) and audit issues, and the Head of Finance and Estates. The responsibilities of the audit committee are set down in its Terms of Reference (see Appendix 2: Terms of reference of the Acas Council Audit committee)