SERCOP – Financial Headings from CIPFA

Last Updated:24th June 2011

What is it?

SeRCOP is a code of practice for all UK local authority services to ensure consistent financial reporting for local authority budgets, performance indicators and statements of accounts.


SeRCOP is a code of practice; it includes the definition of total cost and a service expenditure analysis (SEA).

The SEA in Section 3 of SeRCOP sets out a framework for reporting local authority service expenditure. It is used by government returns, such as the RA/RO, Section 251 and PSS EX1.

Section 4 includes the recommended standard subjective analysis. This analysis is consistent with the subjective analysis required by government returns, such as the Whole Government Accounts.

Where is it?

URIs to these headings are found at

The headings can be freely accessed from:

The full version is available to purchase at:

Ownership and Licensing

SeRCOP is owned by CIPFA.

The headings are licensed under the Open Government License

Scope and Jurisdictions

SeRCOP is intended for use by all local, fire and police authorities in the UK.

In England and Wales, SeRCOP is given legislative backing by regulations which identify the accounting practices it propounds as proper practices under the Local Government Act 2003.

In Scotland, the requirement to follow SeRCOP’s Service Expenditure Analysis is specified in the Code. This is supported in legislation by the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 requirement to follow proper accounting practices.

In Northern Ireland, the Service Expenditure Analysis is required under Section 127 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 and the Department of the Environment’s Accounts Direction.


SeRCOP is reviewed annually to ensure that it develops in line with the needs of modern local government, transparency, best value and public services reform.

What Standards does it make use of?

There are two sets of standards. The service expenditure analysis (SEA) and the recommended standard subjective analysis.

Each heading is availabel as a URI.

Mappings to other Classification Systems

SeRCOP is one of three main classification hierarchies used to define and analyse service information in UK local government. These are:

  • Local Government Service List (LGSL) – used by service managers and web managers (e.g. for cross-referencing between Directgov, Business Link and council websites). LGSL is maintained by the esd-toolkit under the Local Government Group
  • Service Reporting Code of Practice (SeRCoP) – used by public sector finance officers and central government as a way of summarising councils budgets and spending. SeRCoP is maintained by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting (CIPFA).
  • ProClass – used by local authority procurement officers, category specialists and contracts managers.

Take Up

SeRCOP is used by all local, fire and police authorities in the UK.