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Chief Accountant

£68,898 - £74,706 per annum

Reports to: Director of Finance
Directorate: Corporate Resources
Section: Finance

DBS required: Basic

Main purpose of the job

  • Maintaining the integrity of the Council’s core accounting systems and records to support the production and reporting of accurate financial accounting information in line with statutory timeframes.

  • Ensure the delivery of the Council’s grouped statement of accounts in accordance with the statutory deadlines and without adverse audit opinion.

  • Advise the Head of Financial Strategy, Planning and Commercial on the financing aspects of the Council’s Capital Strategy.

  • Maintaining oversight, control and interpretation of the Council’s Balance Sheet to ensure the on-going financial resilience of the Council.

  • Provide managerial leadership and oversight to the core accounting, systems and capital financing functions to support the effective stewardship of the Council’s financial resources.

  • Maintain oversight of the Council’s Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and banking and cash management functions.

  • Keep abreast of the core government regulations applicable to local government finance and ensure that Members and senior officers are briefed fully on the implications of existing legislation and any proposed changes.

Management roles & expectations

As a Lewisham Service Manager you will:

  • Be responsible for professional advice and support in service area to deliver in partnership with others the councils vision, values and ways of working.

  • Take overall responsibility for the planning and management of services, ensuring community and customer needs are identified and met.

  • Ensure the delivery of identified service objectives and continuous improvement of service targets.

  • Achieve results through the effective management and development of people.

  • Ensure the effective deployment of financial resources and compliance with statutory professional and organisational frameworks.

Personal duties & responsibilities

  • You will be accountable for the timely preparation and production of the Council’s grouped accounts in accordance with all necessary statutory and other reporting arrangements, including liaison with the External Auditor on all accounting and audit issues and the key stakeholders of the Council’s grouped entities – Lewisham Homes, associated companies and the Lewisham Pension Fund.

  • Provide to Members and Senior Officers of the Council, accounting, technical and commercial advice relevant to the Council’s financial responsibilities including corporate budget setting, capital projects and programmes, inward investment and financing, current and evolving legislation, financial business case development and options appraisal.

  • Ensuring that the Council’s financial systems and accounting structures are maintained to support the production of statutory and other accounting information. Review regularly all control and holding accounts to ensure that complete and accurate accounting information is available to budget holders and decision makers within the Council.

  • Ensure regular reconciliations are undertaken for all Council bank accounts, control accounts and suspense accounts including those from feeder systems interfacing into the Council’s Core Accounting System.

  • Produce all government returns, both capital and revenue, from the Council’s core financial data in accordance with guidance issued and timescales. This will include for example RA RO COR NNDR RTB Treasury and other statistical returns

  • Maintain oversight of the Council’s Balance Sheet to ensure the continued resilience of the Council. Reporting and interpreting regularly alongside other budget management information to ensure that the Council’s financial position is fully understood.

  • Maintain oversight of the Collection Fund in liaison with the Head of Revenues to ensure that in-year projections are available to both the Council and other levying bodies and to support financial planning processes.

  • Maintain in balance the Council’s annual cash limit budget; promoting best financial practice within the authority and applying effective financial controls to the Council and its Directorates.

  • Maintain a register of all grants due to the Council, accounting for them correctly in line with any constraints or conditions applicable; ensure that they are applied appropriately. Comply with any grant reporting requirements in a timely way to ensure that the receipt and application of resources is in accordance with conditions.

  • Maintain systems to ensure the timely payment of sums payable by the Council and the receipt of sums due to the Council. Ensure that the payment and recover of VAT and other sums due to the government are made promptly and accurately.

  • Implement systems of credit control and ensure the calculation of bad debt provisions are undertaken on a regular basis and remain appropriate; protect the Council from losses associated with the writing off of debt.

  • Report regularly on the performance of payments from all sources and on the raising and recovery of debt.

  • Maintain the Council’s capital programme and its financing components ensuring that it is affordable, reflects into, and is consistent with revenue and capital budget provision, and matches the Council’s priorities and its capital strategy.

  • Advise Members and EMT on areas within the scope of your division working corporately across the Council and with our partners to help formulate strategies that add value to the people of the borough and delivers efficiencies.

  • Represent the Council within and outside Lewisham, creating opportunities to enhance the Council’s image, partnerships and services.

  • Lead and manage the finance function for the services under your control, developing strategies and service programmes which meet statutory requirements, the council’s policy objectives and local needs.

  • Participate in the Council’s emergency planning arrangements as required.

  • Contribute to the collective leadership of the Council ensuring the best possible outcomes for our citizens.

All employees are required to

  • Participate in the Performance Appraisal Scheme (PES) and to undertake appropriate training and development identified to enhance their work.

  • Carry out the duties of the post with due regard to the Council’s Dignity at Work Policy and core values.

  • All employees are required to comply with the Council's Health & Safety policies and procedures at all times, taking due care for themselves, colleagues and members of the public.

  • Assist in carrying out the Council's environmental policy within the day to day activities of the post.

  • Undertake other duties, commensurate with the grade, as may reasonably be required.

  • Treat all information acquired through employment, both formally and informally, in strict confidence.

  • Undertake other duties, commensurate with the grade, as may reasonably be required.


Internal Contacts: These include members, budget holders at all levels of the Council including Executive Directors, Directors and Service Heads, Business Partners from other parts of the organisation


External Contacts: This will include external auditors and government departments

Person specification

Equality & Diversity

  • Awareness of and a commitment to Equality of Access and Opportunity in a diverse community          

  • Understanding of how equality and diversity relates to this post 

  • Ability to demonstrate commitment to the principles of equality in employment and service delivery.


  • Evidence of a strong intellectual grasp of local government policy, finance etc.                                          

  • Expert knowledge of Local Government Accounting regulations and codes of practice

  • Detailed understanding of audit requirements and programmes

  • Understanding of implementing and operating electronic accounting systems

  • Demonstrates an understanding of current challenges and opportunities in local  government            

  • Fully-qualified CCAB accountant (Preferably CIPFA) with substantial experience of working in a dynamic environment within a large public or private sector organisation.                                                 



  • Numerical reasoning

  • Oral presentation

  • Able to prioritise, make decisions and provide clear leadership including the establishment and maintenance of a performance management culture



  • Able to write professional papers including reports and briefings 

  • Ability to develop and deliver presentation materials clearly and concisely to a range of audiences      

  • Persuasive and effective, influencing skills and ability to foster partnerships and work collaboratively, across boundaries in order to achieve performance results

  • Assertive and strong communication skills with excellent listening and highly developed interpersonal skills together with persuasive analytical skills

  • Ability to work at a senior level through a demonstration of own presence and credibility

  • Ability to exercise effective leadership as a member of management teams and as a head of service.

  • Ability to act and think strategically, translating this into deliverables

  • Ability to reconcile corporate and strategic objectives

  • Ability to understand and anticipate issues of political sensitivity



  • Significant post qualification experience in range of finance roles 

  • Significant senior managerial experience in public sector role

  • Proven experience of leading and developing a team of finance professionals                                          

  • Evidence of having developed and delivered effective performance measures and performance improvement programme in the delivery of services

  • Maintaining chart of accounts and operating through electronic accounting systems, including the oversight of interfaces and system developments


General Education

  • Educated to degree level standard


Personal Qualities

  • Must be able to adapt to competing demands

  • Must be financially fluent, cost and contribution conscious with a focus on value for money

  • Energetic, determined, robust and resilient enough to cope with the demands of the role.

  • Able to establish positive working relationships with elected members, partners and colleagues across different disciplines.

  • Able to understand and anticipate issues of political sensitivity.

  • High standards of integrity

  • Commitment to learn – desire to acquire new knowledge, skills and approaches.



  • May be required to attend meetings outside of normal office hours


  • Generally candidates must meet the standard Lewisham requirements for the post