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Document Retention Policy

Approved 1 December 2021 

PURPOSE 

The council requires a wide variety of documents for transacting its business and is committed to retaining these documents in a format and for periods of time that: 

  • Enables the council to meet its statutory obligations in respect of documents subject to legislation; 
  • Ensures security of documents; 
  • Protects employees’ privacy; 
  • Facilitates access to information; 
  • Optimises the use of storage space;  
  • Is cost effective; and 
  • Facilitates destruction of redundant documents. 

SCOPE 

This Policy applies to users of the council’s information records, both paper and electronic, it includes Councillors and employees. 

STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS 

Documents subject to a statutory period of retention are identified by their associated legislation in Annex A. 

SECURITY OF DOCUMENTS 

Council records are held in paper and/or electronic format.  The following security is applied to manual documents: 

– all paper documents are stored in lockable cupboards  

– all sensitive files are secured with password 

EMPLOYEES’ PRIVACY 

The privacy of personnel records will be appropriately assured. 

AVAILABILITY & ACCESS 

All records necessary for council business will be retained for a period of time that reasonably assures the availability of records when needed. 

STORAGE SPACE AND COST 

Redundant records may be destroyed in order to reduce the cost of storage, indexing and handling the vast quantity of documents that would otherwise accumulate.  Destruction of documents will be undertaken in accordance with the provisions of this Policy to avoid any inference that a document was destroyed in anticipation of a problem. 

ELECTRONIC STORAGE 

Records maintained on electronic data processing storage media will be subject to the same rules of retention and security as paper records. 

IMPLEMENTATION OF POLICY 

The Council will be responsible for the implementation of the Policy. 

MONITORING & REVIEW OF POLICY 

Council will review the Policy periodically to monitor its effectiveness, taking account of users’ comments. 

Page Break 

Annex A – Retention Periods: Statutory Requirement & Best Practice Guidance 

Document/Type Minimum Retention Period Reason Associated Legislation 
Agreements, Contracts & Related Correspondence 
Contract Executed as a Deed 12 years Proceedings founded on a contract may be brought within these periods  Actions for latent damage may be brought up to fifteen years after the damage occurs  Audit, Management Limitation Act 1980 Section 5    
Contracts with Customers, Suppliers or Agents Indefinite 
Licensing Agreements 
Rental/Hire Purchase Agreements 
Indemnities & Guarantees 
Other Agreements/Contracts 
Quotations and Tenders 12 years Limitation Act 1980 (as amended) 
Leases, agreements, contracts Indefinite Audit, Management Limitation Act 1980 Section 14B 
Corporate plans, strategies, policies, business plans, annual reports, asset register Indefinitely Common Practice  
Operating Procedures 2 years after superseded Common Practice  
Market Licences Destroy after 6 years Management  
Market Licence Holder Records Destroy after 6 years after leaving the market Management   
Other Licences Destroy after 6 years after leaving the market Management  
Funding Documents  As required by individual funders Funding requirements  
Press Releases Destroy after 3 years Local Choice  
Property 
Title Deeds  Indefinite Audit, Management Limitation Act 1980 Section 14B 
For Town Hall and Market 
application to hire  lettings diaries copies of bills to hires records of tickets issued 6 years  VAT  
For Allotments  
Register and plans  Indefinite Audit, Management   
Financial Records  
Cheques, cheque book stubs, bills of exchange and paying in books 6 years plus current year   Audit  
Instructions to banks 6 years after ceasing to be effective   
Investments Indefinite Audit, Management  
Scales of Fees and charges 6 years plus current year Management  
Postage & Telephone Records 6 years plus current year Tax, VAT, Statute of Limitations  
Receipt and payment account(s) Indefinite Archive  
Receipt books of all kinds  6 years plus current year VAT  
Bank statements, including deposit/savings accounts  6 years plus current year Audit  
Paid Invoices 6 years plus current year VAT  
Paid cheques  6 years plus current year Limitation Act 1980 (as amended) Limitation Act 1980 (as amended) 
VAT records 6 years generally but 20 years for VAT on rents VAT  
Petty cash and postage  6 years plus current year Tax, VAT, Limitation Act 1980 (as amended)  
Timesheets 3 years Audit (requirement) Personal injury (best practice)  
Wages books  12 years  Company Pension  
Accounts and Audits Indefinite, archive after administrative use Common Practice  
Budget and estimates Indefinite, archive after 3 years Statutory  
Building contracts  Life of the building, plus 15 years Statutory  
Loans  Destroy 7 years after loan repaid Common Practice  
Tax 
Supporting documentation for VAT returns 6 years plus current year If there is an enquiry into a tax return, records should be retained until the enquiry is complete VAT Act 1994 s58 & Schedule 11 Para 6  
Supporting documentation for PAYE returns  6 years plus current year  Income Tax (PAYE) Regulation 2003 Reg.97 
PAYE related records not required to be sent to Inland Revenue Three years after the end of the tax year to which they relate  
Electoral Roll  Destroy when superseded   
Councillors Records 
Members allowances register 6 years Tax, Limitation Act 1980 (as amended) Tax, Limitation Act 1980 (as amended) 
Councillors Notification of Members’ Interests  1 year after end of service Local Choice Chapter 7 Localism Act 2011 
Councillor contact  1 year after end of service Local Choice  
Employee Records 
Personal Records, inclusive of appraisals, disciplinary records, leave, training records, contracts, redundancy, promotion/pay awards/pay levels etc 6 years after employment ceases 25 years for staff working with Children Health & Safety Records may need to be kept longer Limitation Act 1980 
Basic Personal Details (name/address/dates of employment/role etc) Indefinitely Health and Safety or DBS records  
Employee Handbook Indefinitely Common Practice  
Applications for jobs-where the candidate is unsuccessful, including CV’s, Interview notes 6 months after notifying the unsuccessful candidate Time Limit for employment claims  Equality Act 2010 Limitation Act 1980 
Salary/Payrolls/Wages/tax documents (Inland Revenue)  12 years after 31 January of the following year of assessment   Company Pension Tax Management Act 1970 Sections 12 & 15. 
LGPS Correspondence re individuals 12 years from date of leaving LGPS regulations  
P Forms (P45 etc) 6 years   
Expense Accounts 6 years   
Labour Agreements 10 years Best practice  
Sickness Records 6 years after employment ceases   Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations 1982 Reg.13 
Accident Books 7 years from the date of last entry Local Choice  
Health & Safety Records 3 years Personal injury actions must generally be commenced within three years of the injury.   The time periods are extended in relation to employees exposed to hazardous substances.  
Time-Keeping Records Last Completed Audit  Last completed audit year Audit  
Recruitment documents, including Person Specification, Job Descriptions 5 year Equal Opportunities claims  
Statutory Maternity/Paternity pay and leave records Current tax year plus 3 years Local Choice  
References  Destroy after 5 years of leaving employment  Insurance  
Correspondence with residents Two years  Local Choice  
Insurance 
Policies 40 years Statutory  
Claims Correspondence Three years after settlement See NALC LTN 40 Para 7 replicated below   
Employer’s Liability Insurance Certificate 40 years from the date on which insurance commenced or was renewed The Employers’ liability (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations 1998 (SI. 2753), Management  
Accident Reports and relevant correspondence 3years after settlement   
Donations & Subscription Records 
Donations given & related correspondence 6 years  Companies Act 1985 Sections 221-222 
Deeds of Covenant 6 years after the last payment made 12 years if payments are still outstanding or there is a dispute re the Deed   
Subscription records 3 years after cessation of membership  Companies Act 1985 Section 222 
Planning Applications & Associated Documents & Licensing Where planning permission is granted, the application, any plans and the decision letter should be retained until the development has been completed. Advice from CWaC:  Six years from the date of meeting at which Planning Application discussed (Planning Authority’s records, available for inspection, go back to 1973) 
Planning Memos Council Comments & Planning Authority’s Decision – 6 years Other related documents – 2 years Until the development has been completed Freedom of Information Act 2000 
Private Applications (Rejected) 5 Years  Until the period within which an appeal can be made has expired 
Appeal Decision relating to rejected Private Applications  Indefinitely NALC LTN 40 refers 
Major Developments Indefinitely  
Copies of Structure Plans, Local Plans and similar documents As long as document is in force NALC LTN 40 refers 
Licensing Memos NTC’s comments – 6 years Other related documents – 2 years Local Choice  
Publications Newsletters Guides, Pamphlets, Leaflets, Maps, Plans Local choice a copy of published works in print after 01.02.04 or after 06.04.13 electronic works off line, to deliver, at its own expense, a copy of them to the british library board. electronic works published on line after 2013 only if requested NALC LTN 40 refers The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 
Meetings Records Agendas Minutes – Meetings Minutes – Committees, Subcommittees Following the meeting Indefinite Indefinite  Indefinite  Facility for back-checking  Hard copies – at Archives On electronic media – 1 copy at a separate location 
Electronic Documents 
E-mail 2years  Local Choice 
Scanned Documents  2years  Local Choice