In the first few months of every year, local councils must focus on finance. Parish and Town Councils set their budgets in January. The end of the financial year is just two months later when the annual cycle of internal and external auditing begins.
Setting a budget is not just about financial management. It connects with the future aims and strategies of the council. It is also about planning ahead. Some major costs occur only occasionally, and to meet them, councils should spread the potential cost across several financial years.
Similarly, the auditing process. Clerks and Responsible Financial Officers should be 'auditing' on a regular basis, so that at any time the council's financial affairs are available for scrutiny.
The key factor is adequate preparation. Talk to your internal auditor now (or appoint one as soon as you can). Don't wait until you receive a message from your external auditor.