Governance and accountability

Water governance

Integrity, transparency, accountability, and sound financial management are cornerstones of delivering flood and water level management as a modern, well governed, public service.

Good Governance for Internal Drainage Board Members


The principle of collective responsibility for water management endures at the heart of Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs). It remains more efficient to build and maintain our water environment together, and to delegate the design and execution of works to professional well governed organisations.

A successful IDB is built upon active, interested and committed people with local and relevant knowledge. Such Board Members are both part of the democratic framework of this country representing the interests of their community, and the long and eventful history of living and working with water in lowland England.

The Guide

ADA has published a comprehensive guide to the role and functions of IDB Board Members as local water managers serving their community, economy and landscape.

This guide aims to help them to expand their knowledge of the rules, practices, and processes involved in being a Board Member, building their confidence in this important role. In turn this knowledge will enable them to engage with others in a positive and proactive way that will make a positive difference for their local community and water landscape.

Training Workshops

Speakers at the first Training Workshop alongside the River Great Ouse in King’s Lynn.

Engaging in learning and training will help Board members to build confidence in their role.

In March and April 2019 ADA ran a series of five Good Governance Workshops for Board Members. ADA has made available recordings of each of the modules covered on YouTube as a training resource for IDBs. Each is about 20 minutes in length and we hope as a useful aid to accompany the guide. Our thanks to Associate Members, Wilkin Chapman LLP and Towergate Insurance, for assisting with the Workshops.

YouTube Training modules

Part 1 – Board Members & Meetings

Part 2 – Delivery of Functions

Part 3 – Managing Risks & Hazards

Part 4 – Information Governance

Part 5 – Funding & Financial Management

IDB Governance Workshop Slides

Governance documents

ADA has worked with our members and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to develop a suite of policies and other documents to assist IDBs.

Accounts and audit

External auditors

Under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, all local government smaller authorities that are subject to the limited assurance regime, including IDBs, are appointed auditors by the Smaller Authorities’ Audit Appointments Ltd (SAAA). This regime is designed to provide a level of assurance at a cost proportionate to the amounts of public money managed by these smaller authorities.

Further information about limited assurance procedures is available from PKF Littlejohn LLP who were appointed as the external auditor to IDBs by SAAA. This appointment began in 2017/18 and is set to run for five years.

Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR)

All smaller authorities, including IDBs, must complete and approve an Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR) to communicate their financial, operational, and administrative position. It is the principle means through which each IDB is held accountable.

An AGAR consists of three sections: an Annual Governance Statement, Accounting Statements, and where relevant, the external auditors report and certificate.

Further information and documents for the AGAR process are available from SAAA and PKF Littlejohn.

JPAG Practitioners' Guide

The Practitioners’ Guide supports the preparation by smaller authorities in England (including IDBs) of statutory annual accounting and governance statements found in the AGAR. It is a working tool for Responsible Financial Officers (RFOs), but also a reference for auditors, board members, other officers, and the public.

The Practitioners’ Guide is issued by the Joint Panel on Accountability and Governance (JPAG), who are responsible for issuing proper practices about the governance and accounts of smaller authorities. It is jointly published by ADA, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), and the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC).

JPAG Practioners’ Guide [NALC]