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IPSASB Delivers Guidance on Significant Areas of Public Expenditure

Issues Social Benefits IPSAS and Exposure Draft on Collective and Individual Services

Jan 31, 2019 | English

The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) has released a new standard and an Exposure Draft on accounting for social benefits, and collective and individual services, respectively. Between them, International Public Sector Accounting Standard (IPSAS) 42, Social Benefits, and the related Exposure Draft (ED) 67, Collective and Individual Services and Emergency Relief (Amendments to IPSAS 19), address a wide range of significant government expenditures that directly impact the lives of citizens globally.

IPSAS 42 provides much-needed guidance on accounting for social benefits expenditure, which comprises about one fifth of GDP across OECD countries. It defines social benefits as cash transfers paid to specific individuals and/or households to mitigate the effect of social risk. Specific examples include state retirement benefits, disability benefits, income support and unemployment benefits. The new standard requires an entity to recognize an expense and a liability for the next social benefit payment.

“IPSAS 42 represents a big step forward for global financial reporting in the public sector and fills one of the major gaps in IPSASB’s suite of standards,” said IPSASB Chair Ian Carruthers. “Social benefits has been a challenging project because of the differing, strongly held views as to when a liability for social benefits arises. We are confident that the final standard will increase transparency and comparability in public sector financial reporting.”

In order to extend IPSASB’s guidance to public services as well as cash transfers, ED 67 proposes new requirements for accounting for collective services (such as defense at national-levels and street lighting at sub-national levels), individual services (such as healthcare and education) and emergency relief.

For collective and individual services, ED 67 proposes that an expense is recognized at the point of service delivery. ED 67 also proposes that an expense and liability is recognized for some emergency relief, but not where emergency relief is delivered as an ongoing activity of government.

“The distinction between social benefits and collective and individual services is important, but the accounting treatment of these transactions must be conceptually consistent,” said Mr. Carruthers. “Issuing ED 67 now, together with IPSAS 42, will allow our stakeholders to identify and account more consistently for the full range of social policy obligations of government.”

How to Comment
To access Exposure Draft 67 and its summary At-a-Glance document, or to submit a comment, visit the IPSASB website at Comments on the Exposure Draft are requested by May 31, 2019. The IPSASB encourages IFAC member organizations and regional accountancy organizations to promote the availability of this Exposure Draft to their members and employees.

About the IPSASB
The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) works to strengthen public financial management globally through developing and maintaining accrual-based International Public Sector Accounting Standards® (IPSAS®) and other high-quality financial reporting guidance for use by governments and other public sector entities. It also raises awareness of IPSAS and the benefits of accrual adoption. The Board receives support from the Asian Development Bank, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, the New Zealand External Reporting Board, and the governments of Canada and New Zealand. The structures and processes that support the operations of the IPSASB are facilitated by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). For copyright, trademark, and permissions information, please go to permissions or contact

About the Public Interest Committee
The governance and standard-setting activities of the IPSASB are overseen by the Public Interest Committee (PIC), to ensure that they follow due process and reflect the public interest. The PIC is comprised of individuals with expertise in public sector or financial reporting, and professional engagement in organizations that have an interest in promoting high-quality and internationally comparable financial information.