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Annual Report > Financial statements > Consolidated financial statements > Accounting policies

Accounting policies

(I) BASIS OF PREPARATION OF THE FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
These consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with applicable law and IFRSs as adopted by the EU. For BT there are no differences between IFRSs as adopted for use in the EU and full IFRS as published by the IASB. The financial statements have been prepared under the historical cost convention, modified for the revaluation of certain financial assets and liabilities at fair value.
     Where there are significant differences to US GAAP, these have been described in the United States generally accepted accounting principles.
     The policies set out below have been consistently applied to all years presented with the exception of those relating to financial instruments under IAS 32, ‘Financial Instruments: Disclosure and Presentation’ and IAS 39, ‘Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement’, which have been applied with effect from 1 April 2005.
     Certain comparative balance sheet amounts for the 2006 financial year have been reclassified to conform with the presentation adopted in the 2007 financial year. These include £305 million which has been reclassified from prepayments to non current assets at 31 March 2006 in respect of costs relating to the initial set up, transition or transformation phase of long term networked IT services contracts. In addition, £267 million has been reclassified from property, plant and equipment to intangible assets at 31 March 2006 in respect of IT software application assets.
     The preparation of financial statements in conformity with IFRSs requires the use of accounting estimates. It also requires management to exercise its judgement in the process of applying the group’s accounting policies. The areas involving a higher degree of judgement or complexity, or areas where assumptions and estimates are significant to the consolidated financial statements, are disclosed below in ‘Critical accounting estimates and key judgements’.
     The group’s income statement and segmental analysis separately identifies trading results before significant one-off or unusual items (termed ‘specific items’), a non GAAP measure. This is consistent with the way that financial performance is measured by management and assists in providing a meaningful analysis of the trading results of the group. The directors believe that presentation of the group’s results in this way is relevant to an understanding of the group’s financial performance as specific items are significant one-off or unusual in nature and have little predictive value. Furthermore, the group consider a columnar presentation to be appropriate as it improves the clarity of the presentation and is consistent with the way that financial performance is measured and reported to the board of directors. Specific items may not be comparable to similarly titled measures used by other companies. Items which have been considered significant one-off or unusual in nature include disposals of businesses and investments, business restructuring, asset impairment charges and property rationalisation programmes. The directors intend to follow such a presentation on a consistent basis in the future. Specific items for the current and prior years are disclosed in Specific items.
     Accounting policies in respect of the parent company, BT Group plc, are set out in the Financial Statements of BT Group plc. These are in accordance with UK GAAP.

(II) BASIS OF CONSOLIDATION
The group financial statements consolidate the financial statements of BT Group plc (“the company”) and entities controlled by the company (its subsidiaries) and incorporate its share of the results of jointly controlled entities (joint ventures) and associates using the equity method of accounting.
     The results of subsidiaries acquired or disposed of during the year are consolidated from the effective date of acquisition or up to the effective date of disposal, as appropriate. Where necessary, adjustments are made to the financial statements of subsidiaries, associates and joint ventures to bring the accounting policies used in line with those used by the group. All intra-group transactions, balances, income and expenses are eliminated on consolidation.
     Investments in associates and joint ventures are initially recognised at cost. Subsequent to acquisition the carrying value of the group’s investment in associates and joint ventures includes the group’s share of post acquisition reserves, less any impairment in the value of individual assets. The income statement reflects the group’s share of the results of operations after tax of the associate or joint venture.
     The group’s principal operating subsidiaries and associate are detailed in Subsidiary undertakings and associate.

(III) REVENUE
Revenue represents the fair value of the consideration received or receivable for communication services and equipment sales, net of discounts and sales taxes. Revenue from the rendering of services and sale of equipment is recognised when it is probable that the economic benefits associated with a transaction will flow to the group and the amount of revenue and the associated costs can be measured reliably. Where the group acts as agent in a transaction it recognises revenue net of directly attributable costs.
     Revenue arising from separable installation and connection services is recognised when it is earned, upon activation. Revenue from the rental of analogue and digital lines and private circuits is recognised evenly over the period to which the charges relate. Revenue from calls is recognised at the time the call is made over the group’s network.
     Subscription fees, consisting primarily of monthly charges for access to broadband and other internet access or voice services, are recognised as revenue as the service is provided. Revenue arising from the interconnection of voice and data traffic between other telecommunications operators is recognised at the time of transit across the group’s network.
     Revenue from the sale of peripheral and other equipment is recognised when all the significant risks and rewards of ownership are transferred to the buyer, which is normally the date the equipment is delivered and accepted by the customer.
     Revenue from long term contractual arrangements is recognised based on the percentage of completion method. The stage of completion is estimated using an appropriate measure according to the nature of the contract. For long term services contracts revenue is recognised on a straight line basis over the term of the contract. However, if the performance pattern is other than straight line, revenue is recognised as services are provided, usually on an output or consumption basis. For fixed price contracts, including contracts to design and build software solutions, revenue is recognised by reference to the stage of completion, as determined by the proportion of costs incurred relative to the estimated total contract costs, or other measures of completion such as contract milestone customer acceptance. In the case of time and materials contracts, revenue is recognised as the service is rendered.
     Costs related to delivering services under long term contractual arrangements are expensed as incurred. An element of costs incurred in the initial set up, transition or transformation phase of the contract are deferred and recorded within non current assets. These costs are then recognised in the income statement on a straight line basis over the remaining contractual term, unless the pattern of service delivery indicates a different profile is appropriate. These costs are directly attributable to specific contracts, relate to future activity, will generate future economic benefits and are assessed for recoverability on a regular basis.
     The percentage of completion method relies on estimates of total expected contract revenues and costs, as well as reliable measurement of the progress made towards completion. Unless the financial outcome of a contract can be estimated with reasonable certainty, no attributable profit is recognised. In such circumstances, revenue is recognised equal to the costs incurred to date, to the extent that such revenue is expected to be recoverable. Recognised revenue and profits are subject to revisions during the contract if the assumptions regarding the overall contract outcome are changed. The cumulative impact of a revision in estimates is recorded in the period in which such revisions become likely and can be estimated. Where the actual and estimated costs to completion exceed the estimated revenue for a contract, the full contract life loss is immediately recognised.
     Where a contractual arrangement consists of two or more separate elements that have value to a customer on a standalone basis, revenue is recognised for each element as if it were an individual contract. The total contract consideration is allocated between the separate elements on the basis of relative fair value and the appropriate revenue recognition criteria applied to each element as described above.

(IV) LEASES
The determination of whether an arrangement is, or contains, a lease, is based on the substance of the arrangement and requires an assessment of whether the fulfilment of the arrangement is dependent on the use of a specific asset or assets and whether the arrangement conveys the right to use the asset.
     Leases of property, plant and equipment where the group holds substantially all the risks and rewards of ownership are classified as finance leases.
     Finance lease assets are capitalised at the commencement of the lease term at the lower of the present value of the minimum lease payments or the fair value of the leased asset. The obligations relating to finance leases, net of finance charges in respect of future periods, are recognised as liabilities. Leases are subsequently measured at amortised cost using the effective interest method. If a sale and leaseback transaction results in a finance lease, any excess of sale proceeds over the carrying amount is deferred and recognised in the income statement over the lease term.
     Leases where a significant portion of the risks and rewards are held by the lessor are classified as operating leases. Rentals are charged to the income statement on a straight line basis over the period of the lease. If a sale and leaseback transaction results in an operating lease, any profit or loss is recognised in the income statement immediately.

(V) FOREIGN CURRENCIES
Items included in the financial statements of each of the group’s subsidiaries are measured using the currency of the primary economic environment in which the entity operates (the ‘functional currency’). The consolidated financial statements are presented in sterling, the presentation currency of the group.
     Foreign currency transactions are translated into the functional currency using the exchange rates prevailing at the date of the transaction. Foreign exchange gains and losses resulting from the settlement of such transactions and from the translation of monetary assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies at period end exchange rates are recognised in the income statement in the line which most appropriately reflects the nature of the item or transaction. Where monetary items form part of the net investment in a foreign operation and are designated as hedges of a net investment or as cash flow hedges, such exchange differences are initially recognised in equity.
     On consolidation, assets and liabilities of foreign undertakings are translated into sterling at year end exchange rates. The results of foreign undertakings are translated into sterling at average rates of exchange for the year (unless this average is not a reasonable approximation of the cumulative effects of the rates prevailing on the transaction dates, in which case income and expenses are translated at the dates of the transactions). Foreign exchange differences arising on retranslation are recognised directly in a separate component of equity, the translation reserve.
     In the event of the disposal of an undertaking with assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currency, the cumulative translation difference associated with the undertaking in the translation reserve is charged or credited to the gain or loss on disposal.

(VI) BUSINESS COMBINATIONS
The purchase method of accounting is used for the acquisition of subsidiaries, in accordance with IFRS 3, ‘Business Combinations’. On transition to IFRSs, the group elected not to apply IFRS 3 retrospectively to acquisitions that occurred before 1 April 2004. Goodwill arising on the acquisition of subsidiaries which occurred between 1 January 1998 and 1 April 2004 is therefore included in the balance sheet at original cost, less accumulated amortisation to the date of transition and any provisions for impairment. Goodwill arising on the acquisition of a subsidiary which occurred prior to 1 January 1998 was written off directly to retained earnings.
     On acquisition of a subsidiary, fair values are attributed to the identifiable net assets acquired. The excess of the cost of the acquisition over the fair value of the group’s share of the identifiable net assets acquired is recorded as goodwill. If the cost of the acquisition is less than the fair value of the group’s share of the identifiable net assets acquired, the difference is recognised directly in the income statement. On disposal of a subsidiary, the gain or loss on disposal includes the carrying amount of goodwill relating to the subsidiary sold. Goodwill previously written off to retained earnings is not recycled to the income statement on disposal of the related subsidiary.

(VII) INTANGIBLE ASSETS
Identifiable intangible assets are recognised when the group controls the asset, it is probable that future economic benefits attributable to the asset will flow to the group and the cost of the asset can be reliably measured. All intangible assets, other than goodwill and indefinite lived assets, are amortised over their useful economic life. The method of amortisation reflects the pattern in which the assets are expected to be consumed. If the pattern cannot be determined reliably, the straight line method is used.

Goodwill
Goodwill represents the excess of the cost of an acquisition over the fair value of the group’s share of the identifiable net assets (including intangible assets) of the acquired subsidiary. Goodwill is tested annually for impairment and carried at cost less accumulated impairment losses.

Telecommunication licences
Licence fees paid to governments, which permit telecommunication activities to be operated for defined periods, are initially recorded at cost and amortised from the time the network is available for use to the end of the licence period.

Brands, customer lists and customer relationships
Intangible assets acquired through business combinations are recorded at fair value at the date of acquisition. Assumptions are used in estimating the fair values of acquired intangible assets and include management’s estimates of revenue and profits to be generated by the acquired businesses.

Computer software
Computer software comprises computer software purchased from third parties, and also the cost of internally developed software. Computer software purchased from third parties is initially recorded at cost.

Subscriber acquisition costs
Subscriber acquisition costs are expensed as incurred, unless they meet the criteria for capitalisation, in which case they are capitalised and amortised over the shorter of the customer life or contractual period.

Estimated useful economic lives
The estimated useful economic lives assigned to the principal categories of intangible assets are as follows:

Telecommunication licences
    1 to 5 years  
Brands, customer lists and customer relationships
    3 to 15 years  
Computer software
    2 to 5 years  


(VIII) RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Research expenditure is recognised in the income statement in the period in which it is incurred.
     Development expenditure, including the cost of internally developed software, is recognised in the income statement in the period in which it is incurred unless it is probable that economic benefits will flow to the group from the asset being developed, the cost of the asset can be reliably measured and technical feasibility can be demonstrated. Capitalisation ceases when the asset being developed is ready for use.
     Research and development costs include direct labour, contractors’ charges, materials and directly attributable overheads.

(IX) PROPERTY, PLANT AND EQUIPMENT
Property, plant and equipment is included in the balance sheet at historical cost, less accumulated depreciation and any provisions for impairment.
     On disposal of property, plant and equipment, the difference between the sale proceeds and the net book value at the date of disposal is recorded in the income statement.

Cost
Included within the cost for network infrastructure and equipment are direct labour, contractors’ charges, materials, payments on account and directly attributable overheads.

Depreciation
Depreciation is provided on property, plant and equipment on a straight line basis from the time the asset is available for use, so as to write off the asset’s cost over the estimated useful life taking into account any expected residual value. Freehold land is not subject to depreciation.
     The lives assigned to principal categories of assets are as follows:

Land and buildings
       
   Freehold buildings
    40 years  
   Leasehold land and buildings
    Unexpired portion of lease or 40 years, whichever is the shorter  
Network infrastructure and equipment
       
   Transmission equipment:
       
      Duct
    40 years  
      Cable
    3 to 25 years  
   Radio and repeater equipment
    2 to 25 years  
   Exchange equipment
    2 to 13 years  
   Payphones other network equipment
    2 to 20 years  
         
Other
       
   Motor vehicles
    2 to 9 years  
   Computers and office equipment
    3 to 6 years  


Assets held under finance leases are depreciated over the shorter of the lease term or their useful economic life. Residual values and useful lives are re-assessed annually and if necessary changes are recognised prospectively.

(X) ASSET IMPAIRMENT (NON FINANCIAL ASSETS)
Intangible assets with finite useful lives and property, plant and equipment are tested for impairment if events or changes in circumstances (assessed at each reporting date) indicate that the carrying amount may not be recoverable. When an impairment test is performed, the recoverable amount is assessed by reference to the higher of the net present value of expected future cash flows (value in use) of the relevant cash generating unit and the fair value less cost to sell.
     Goodwill and intangible assets with indefinite useful lives are tested for impairment at least annually.
     If a cash generating unit is impaired, provision is made to reduce the carrying amount of the related assets to their estimated recoverable amount, normally as a specific item. Impairment losses are allocated firstly against goodwill, and secondly on a pro rata basis against intangible and other assets.
     Where an impairment loss is recognised against an asset it may be reversed in future periods where there has been a change in the estimates used to determine the recoverable amount since the last impairment loss was recognised, except in respect of impairment of goodwill which may not be reversed in any circumstances.

(XI) INVENTORY
Inventory mainly comprises items of equipment held for sale or rental and consumable items.
     Equipment held and consumable items are stated at the lower of cost and estimated net realisable value, after provisions for obsolescence. Cost is calculated on a first-in-first-out basis.

(XII) TERMINATION BENEFITS
Termination benefits (leaver costs) are payable when employment is terminated before the normal retirement date, or when an employee accepts voluntary redundancy in exchange for these benefits. The group recognises termination benefits when it is demonstrably committed to the affected employees leaving the group.

(XIII) POST RETIREMENT BENEFITS
The group operates a funded defined benefit pension plan, which is administered by an independent trustee, for the majority of its employees.
     The group’s net obligation in respect of defined benefit pension plans is calculated separately for each scheme by estimating the amount of future benefit that employees have earned in return for their service to date. That benefit is discounted to determine its present value, and the fair value of any plan assets is deducted. The discount rate used is the yield at the balance sheet date on AA credit rated bonds that have maturity dates approximating the terms of the group’s obligations. The calculation is performed by a qualified actuary using the projected unit credit method. The net obligation recognised in the balance sheet is the present value of the defined benefit obligation less the fair value of the plan assets.
     The income statement charge is allocated between an operating charge and a net finance charge. The operating charge reflects the service cost which is spread systematically over the working lives of the employees. The net finance charge reflects the unwinding of the discount applied to the liabilities of the plan, offset by the expected return on the assets of the plan, based on conditions prevailing at the start of the year.
     Actuarial gains and losses are recognised in full in the period in which they occur and are presented in the statement of recognised income and expense.
     Actuarial valuations of the main defined benefit plan are carried out by an independent actuary as determined by the trustees at intervals of not more than three years, to determine the rates of contribution payable. The pension cost is determined on the advice of the group’s actuary, having regard to the results of these trustee valuations. In any intervening years, the actuaries review the continuing appropriateness of the contribution rates.
     The group also operates defined contribution pension schemes and the income statement is charged with the contributions payable.

(XIV) SHARE BASED PAYMENTS
The group has a number of employee share schemes and share option and award plans under which it makes equity settled share based payments to certain employees. The fair value of options and awards granted is recognised as an employee expense after taking into account the group’s best estimate of the number of awards expected to vest allowing for non market and service conditions. Fair value is measured at the date of grant and is spread over the vesting period of the award. The fair value of options and awards granted is measured using either the Binomial or Monte Carlo model, whichever is most appropriate to the award. Any proceeds received are credited to share capital and share premium when the options are exercised. The group has applied IFRS 2 ‘Share based payment’ retrospectively to all options and awards granted after 7 November 2002 and not fully vested at 1 January 2005.

(XV) TAXATION
Current tax, including UK corporation tax and foreign tax, is provided at amounts expected to be paid (or recovered) using the tax rates and laws that have been enacted or substantially enacted by the balance sheet date.
     Deferred tax is recognised, using the liability method, in respect of temporary differences between the carrying amount of the group’s assets and liabilities and their tax base.
     Deferred tax liabilities are offset against deferred tax assets within the same taxable entity or qualifying local tax group. Any remaining deferred tax asset is recognised only when, on the basis of all available evidence, it can be regarded as probable that there will be suitable taxable profits, within the same jurisdiction, in the foreseeable future against which the deductible temporary difference can be utilised.
     Deferred tax is determined using tax rates that are expected to apply in the periods in which the asset is realised or liability settled, based on tax rates and laws that have been enacted or substantially enacted by the balance sheet date.
     Deferred tax is provided on temporary differences arising on investments in subsidiaries, associates and joint ventures, except where the timing of the reversal of the temporary difference can be controlled and it is probable that the temporary difference will not reverse in the foreseeable future.
     Current and deferred tax are recognised in the income statement, except when the tax relates to items charged or credited directly in equity, in which case the tax is also recognised in equity.

(XVI) ADVERTISING AND MARKETING
The costs associated with the group’s advertising and marketing activities are expensed within other operating costs as incurred.

(XVII) DIVIDENDS
Final dividends are recognised as a liability in the year in which they are declared and approved by the company’s shareholders in general meeting. Interim dividends are recognised when they are paid.

(XVIII) PROVISIONS
Provisions are recognised when the group has a present legal or constructive obligation as a result of past events, it is more likely than not that an outflow of resources will be required to settle the obligation and the amount can be reliably estimated. Provisions are discounted to present value where the effect is material.

(XIX) FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS (FROM 1 APRIL 2005)
The following are the key accounting policies used from 1 April 2005 onwards to reflect the adoption of IAS 32, ‘Financial Instruments: Disclosure and Presentation’ and IAS 39, ‘Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement’.

Recognition and derecognition of financial assets and financial liabilities
Financial assets and financial liabilities are recognised when the group becomes party to the contractual provisions of the instrument. Financial assets are derecognised when the group no longer has rights to cash flows, the risks and rewards of ownership or control of the asset. Financial liabilities are derecognised when the obligation under the liability is discharged, cancelled or expires. In particular, for all regular way purchases and sales of financial assets, the group recognises the financial assets on the settlement date, which is the date on which the asset is delivered to or by the group.

Financial assets
Financial assets at fair value through income statement
A financial asset is classified in this category if acquired principally for the purpose of selling in the short term (held for trading) or if so designated by management. Financial assets held in this category are initially recognised and subsequently measured at fair value, with changes in value recognised in the income statement in the line which most appropriately reflects the nature of the item or transaction.

Loans and receivables
Loans and receivables are non derivative financial assets with fixed or determinable payments that are not quoted in an active market other than:

those that the group intends to sell immediately or in the short term, which are classified as held for trading;
those for which the group may not recover substantially all of its initial investment, other than because of credit deterioration, which are classified as available-for-sale.

     Loans and receivables are initially recognised at fair value plus transaction costs and subsequently carried at amortised cost using the effective interest method, with changes in carrying value recognised in the income statement in the line which most appropriately reflects the nature of the item or transaction.

Available-for-sale financial assets
Non-derivative financial assets classified as available-for-sale are either specifically designated in this category or not classified in any of the other categories. Available-for-sale financial assets are carried at fair value, with unrealised gains and losses (except for changes in exchange rates for monetary items, interest, dividends and impairment losses which are recognised in the income statement) are recognised in equity until the financial asset is derecognised, at which time the cumulative gain or loss previously recognised in equity is taken to the income statement, in the line that most appropriately reflects the nature of the item or transaction.

Trade and other receivables
Financial assets within trade and other receivables are initially recognised at fair value, which is usually the original invoiced amount and subsequently carried at amortised cost using the effective interest method less provisions made for doubtful receivables.
     Provisions are made specifically where there is objective evidence of a dispute or an inability to pay. An additional provision is made based on an analysis of balances by age, previous losses experienced and general economic conditions.

Cash and cash equivalents
Cash and cash equivalents comprise cash in hand and current balances with banks and similar institutions, which are readily convertible to known amounts of cash and which are subject to insignificant risk of changes in value and have an original maturity of three months or less.
     For the purpose of the consolidated cash flow statement, cash and cash equivalents consist of cash and cash equivalents as defined above, net of outstanding bank overdrafts. Bank overdrafts are included within loans and other borrowings in current liabilities on the balance sheet.

Impairment of financial assets
The group assesses at each balance sheet date whether a financial asset or group of financial assets are impaired.
     Where there is objective evidence that an impairment loss has arisen on assets carried at amortised cost, the carrying amount is reduced with the loss being recognised in the income statement. The impairment loss is measured as the difference between that asset’s carrying amount and the present value of estimated future cash flows discounted at the financial asset’s original effective interest rate. The impairment loss is only reversed if it can be related objectively to an event after the impairment was recognised and is reversed to the extent the carrying value of the asset does not exceed its amortised cost at the date of reversal.
     If an available-for-sale asset is impaired, an amount comprising the difference between its cost (net of any principal payment and amortisation) and its fair value is transferred from equity to the income statement. Reversals of impairment losses on debt instruments are taken through the income statement if the increase in fair value of the instrument can be objectively related to an event occurring after the impairment loss was recognised in the income statement. Reversals in respect of equity instruments classified as available-for-sale are not recognised in the income statement.
     If there is objective evidence of an impairment loss on an unquoted equity instrument that is not carried at fair value because its fair value cannot be objectively measured, or on a derivative asset that is linked to and must be settled by delivery of such an unquoted equity instrument, has been incurred, the amount of loss is measured as the difference between the asset’s carrying amount and the present value of estimated future cash flows discounted at the current market rate of return for a similar financial asset.

Financial liabilities
Trade and other payables
Financial liabilities within trade and other payables are initially recognised at fair value, which is usually the original invoiced amount, and subsequently carried at amortised cost using the effective interest method.

Loans and other borrowings
Loans and other borrowings are initially recognised at fair value plus directly attributable transaction costs. Where loans and other borrowings contain a separable embedded derivative, the fair value of the embedded derivative is the difference between the fair value of the hybrid instrument and the fair value of the loan or borrowing. The fair value of the embedded derivative and the loan or borrowing is recorded separately on initial recognition. Loans and other borrowings are subsequently measured at amortised cost using the effective interest method and if included in a fair value hedge relationship are revalued to reflect the fair value movements on the hedged risk associated with the loans and other borrowings. The resultant amortisation of fair value movements are recognised in the income statement.

Financial guarantees
Financial guarantees are recognised initially at fair value plus transaction costs and subsequently measured at the higher of the amount determined in accordance with the accounting policy relating to provisions and the amount initially determined less, when appropriate, cumulative amortisation.

Derivative financial instruments
The group uses derivative financial instruments mainly to reduce exposure to foreign exchange risks and interest rate movements. The group does not hold or issue derivative financial instruments for financial trading purposes. However, derivatives that do not qualify for hedge accounting are accounted for as trading instruments.
     Derivative financial instruments are classified as held for trading and initially recognised at cost. Subsequent to initial recognition, derivative financial instruments are stated at fair value. The gain or loss on re-measurement to fair value is recognised immediately in the income statement in net finance expense. However, where derivatives qualify for hedge accounting, recognition of any resultant gain or loss depends on the nature of the hedge. Derivative financial instruments are classified as current assets or current liabilities where they are not designated in a hedging relationship or have a maturity period within 12 months. Where derivative financial instruments have a maturity period greater than 12 months and are designated in a hedge relationship, they are classified within either non current assets or non current liabilities.
     Derivatives embedded in other financial instruments or other host contracts are treated as separate derivatives when their risk and characteristics are not closely related to those of host contracts and host contracts are not carried at fair value. Changes in the fair value of embedded derivatives are recognised in the income statement in the line which most appropriately reflects the nature of the item or transaction.

Hedge accounting
Cash flow hedge
When a financial instrument is designated as a hedge of the variability in cash flows of a recognised asset or liability, or a highly probable transaction, the effective part of any gain or loss on the derivative financial instrument is recognised directly in equity.
     For cash flow hedges of recognised assets or liabilities, the associated cumulative gain or loss is removed from equity and recognised in the same line in the income statement in the same period or periods during which the hedged transaction affects the income statement.
     For highly probable transactions, when the transaction subsequently results in the recognition of a non-financial asset or non-financial liability the associated cumulative gain or loss is removed from equity and included in the initial cost or carrying amount of the non-financial asset or liability.
     If a hedge of a highly probable transaction subsequently results in the recognition of a financial asset or a financial liability, then the associated gains and losses that were recognised directly in equity are reclassified into the income statement in the same period or periods during which the asset acquired or liability assumed affects the income statement.
     Any ineffectiveness arising on a cash flow hedge of a recognised asset or liability is recognised immediately in the same income statement line as the hedged item. Where ineffectiveness arises on highly probable transactions, it is recognised in the line which most appropriately reflects the nature of the item or transaction.

Fair value hedge
When a derivative financial instrument is designated as a hedge of the variability in fair value of a recognised asset or liability, or unrecognised firm commitment, the change in fair value of the derivatives that are designated as fair value hedges are recorded in the same line in the income statement, together with any changes in fair value of the hedged asset or liability that is attributable to the hedged risk.

Hedge of net investment in a foreign operation
Exchange differences arising from the retranslation of currency instruments designated as hedges of net investments in a foreign operation are taken to shareholders’ equity on consolidation to the extent the hedges are deemed effective.
     Any ineffectiveness arising on a hedge of a net investment in a foreign operation is recognised in net finance expense.

Discontinuance of hedge accounting
Discontinuance of hedge accounting may occur when a hedging instrument expires or is sold, terminated or exercised, the hedge no longer qualifies for hedge accounting or the group revokes designation of the hedge relationship but the hedged financial asset or liability remains or highly probable transaction is still expected to occur. Under a cash flow hedge the cumulative gain or loss at that point remains in equity and is recognised in accordance with the above policy when the transaction occurs. If the hedged transaction is no longer expected to take place or the underlying hedged financial asset or liability no longer exists, the cumulative unrealised gain or loss recognised in equity is recognised immediately in the income statement. Under a hedge of a net investment the cumulative gain or loss remains in equity when the hedging instrument expires or is sold, terminated or exercised, the hedge no longer qualifies for hedge accounting or the group revokes designation of the hedge relationship. The cumulative gain or loss is recognised in the income statement as part of the profit on disposal when the net investment in the foreign operation is disposed. Under a fair value hedge the cumulative gain or loss adjustment associated with the hedged risk is amortised to the income statement using the effective interest method over the remaining term of the hedged item.

Share capital
Ordinary shares are classified as equity. Incremental costs directly attributable to the issue of new shares are shown in equity as a deduction from the proceeds received. Shares in the parent company, BT Group plc, held by employee share ownership trusts and repurchased shares are recorded in the balance sheet as a deduction from shareholders’ equity at cost.

(XX) FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS (TO 31 MARCH 2005)
The accounting policies adopted in respect of financial instruments in periods up to, and including 31 March 2005, are set out below.
     Financial assets were held at the lower of cost and net realisable value in accordance with UK GAAP. Debt instruments are stated at the amount of net proceeds adjusted to amortise any discount over the term of the debt.

Criteria to qualify for hedge accounting
The group considers its derivative financial instruments to be hedges when certain criteria are met. For foreign currency derivatives, the instrument must be related to actual foreign currency assets or liabilities or a probable commitment whose characteristics have been identified. It must involve the same currency or similar currencies as the hedged item and must also reduce the risk of foreign currency exchange movements on the group’s operations. For interest rate derivatives, the instrument must be related to assets or liabilities or a probable commitment, such as a future bond issue, and must also change the interest rate or the nature of the interest rate by converting a fixed rate to a variable rate or vice versa.

Accounting for derivative financial instruments
Interest differentials, under interest rate swap agreements used to vary the amounts and periods for which interest rates on borrowings are fixed, are recognised by adjustment of net finance expense.
     The forward exchange contracts used to change the currency mix of net debt are revalued to balance sheet rates with net unrealised gains and losses included in current and non current derivative financial instruments. The difference between spot and forward rate for these contracts is recognised as part of net finance expense over the term of the contract.
     The forward exchange contracts hedging transaction exposures are revalued at the prevailing forward rate on the balance sheet date with net unrealised gains and losses being shown as current and non-current derivative financial instruments.

CRITICAL ACCOUNTING ESTIMATES AND KEY JUDGEMENTS
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with IFRSs requires the use of accounting estimates and assumptions. It also requires management to exercise its judgement in the process of applying the group’s accounting policies. We continually evaluate our estimates, assumptions and judgements based on available information and experience. As the use of estimates is inherent in financial reporting, actual results could differ from these estimates. The areas involving a higher degree of judgement or complexity are described below.

Interconnect income and payments to other telecommunications operators
In certain instances, BT relies on other operators to measure the traffic flows interconnecting with our networks. Estimates are used in these cases to determine the amount of income receivable from or payments we need to make to these other operators. The prices at which these services are charged are often regulated and are subject to retrospective adjustment and estimates are used in assessing the likely effect of these adjustments.

Providing for doubtful debts
BT provide services to around 18 million individuals and businesses, mainly on credit terms. We know that certain debts due to us will not be paid through the default of a small number of our customers. Estimates, based on our historical experience are used in determining the level of debts that we believe will not be collected. These estimates include such factors as the current state of the economy and particular industry issues.

Goodwill
The recoverable amount of cash generating units has been determined based on value in use calculations. These calculations require the use of estimates, including management’s expectations of future revenue growth, operating costs and profit margins for each cash generating unit.

Useful lives for property, plant and equipment
The plant and equipment in BT’s networks is long lived with cables and switching equipment operating for over ten years and underground ducts being used for decades. The annual depreciation charge is sensitive to the estimated service lives allocated to each type of asset. Asset lives are assessed annually and changed when necessary to reflect current thinking on their remaining lives in light of technological change, network investment plans (including the group’s 21CN transformation programme) prospective economic utilisation and physical condition of the assets concerned. Changes to service lives of assets implemented from 1 April 2006 in aggregate had no significant impact on the results for the year ended 31 March 2007.

Property arrangements
As part of the property rationalisation programme we have identified a number of surplus properties. Although efforts are being made to sub-let this space, it is recognised that this may not be possible immediately in the current economic environment. Estimates have been made of the cost of vacant possession and any shortfall arising from the sub lease rental income being lower than the lease costs being borne by BT. Any such cost or shortfall has been recognised as a provision.

Long term customer contracts
Long term customer contracts can extend over a number of financial years. During the contractual period, revenue, costs and profits may be impacted by estimates of the ultimate profitability of each contract. If, at any time, these estimates indicate the contract will be unprofitable, the entire estimated loss for the contract is recognised immediately. The group performs ongoing profitability reviews of its contracts in order to determine whether the latest estimates are appropriate. Key factors reviewed include transaction volumes, or other inputs for which we get paid, future staff and third party costs and anticipated cost productivity, savings and efficiencies.

Pension obligations
BT has a commitment, mainly through the BT Pension Scheme, to pay pension benefits to approximately 350,000 people over more than 60 years. The cost of these benefits and the present value of our pension liabilities depend on such factors as the life expectancy of the members, the salary progression of our current employees, the return that the pension fund assets will generate in the time before they are used to fund the pension payments and the rate at which the future pension payments are discounted. We use estimates for all these factors in determining the pension costs and liabilities incorporated in our financial statements. The assumptions reflect historical experience and our judgement regarding future expectations.

Deferred tax
Deferred tax assets and liabilities require management judgement in determining the amounts to be recognised. In particular, judgement is used when assessing the extent to which deferred tax assets should be recognised with consideration given to the timing and level of future taxable income.

Income tax
The actual tax we pay on our profits is determined according to complex tax laws and regulations. Where the effect of these laws and regulations is unclear, we use estimates in determining the liability for the tax to be paid on our past profits which we recognise in our financial statements. We believe the estimates, assumptions and judgements are reasonable but this can involve complex issues which may take a number of years to resolve. The final determination of prior year tax liabilities could be different from the estimates reflected in the financial statements.

Determination of fair values
Certain financial instruments such as investments, derivative financial instruments and certain elements of loans and borrowings, are carried on the balance sheet at fair value, with changes in fair value reflected in the income statement. Fair values are estimated by reference in part to published price quotations and in part by using valuation techniques.

ACCOUNTING STANDARDS, INTERPRETATIONS AND AMENDMENTS TO PUBLISHED STANDARDS ADOPTED IN THE YEAR ENDED 31 MARCH 2007
During the year the following standards which are relevant to the group’s operations became effective and were adopted:

 
Amendment to IAS 21, ‘Net Investment in a Foreign Operation’
  Amendment to IAS 39 and IFRS 4, ‘Financial Guarantee Contracts’
  Amendment to IAS 39, ‘Cash Flow Hedge Accounting of Forecast Intragroup Transactions’
  Amendment to IAS 39, ‘The Fair Value Option’
  IFRIC 4, ‘Determining whether an arrangement contains a lease’
  IFRIC 6, ‘Liabilities arising from Participating in a Specific Market – Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment’

      The adoption of these standards has not had a significant impact on the group’s financial statements in the year.

ACCOUNTING STANDARDS, INTERPRETATION AND AMENDMENTS TO PUBLISHED STANDARDS NOT YET EFFECTIVE
Certain new standards, amendments and interpretations to existing standards have been published that are mandatory for the group’s accounting periods beginning on or after 1 April 2007 or later periods, but which the group has not early adopted. The new standards which are relevant to the group’s operations are as follows:

IFRS 7, ‘Financial Instruments: Disclosures’ (effective from 1 April 2007) and amendment to IAS 1 ‘Presentation of Financial Statements – Capital Disclosures’ (effective from 1 April 2007)
IFRS 7 introduces new disclosures of qualitative and quantitative information about exposure to risks arising from financial instruments including specified minimum disclosures about credit risk, liquidity risk and market risk, including sensitivity analysis to market risk. The amendment to IAS 1 introduces disclosures about the level of an entity’s capital and how it manages capital. Management is currently assessing the disclosure impact of IFRS 7 and the amendment to IAS 1 on the group’s financial statements.

IFRS 8, ‘Operating Segments’ (effective from 1 April 2009)
IFRS 8 requires the identification of operating segments based on internal reporting to the chief operating decision maker and extends the scope and disclosure requirements of IAS 14 ‘Segmental Reporting’. The group is currently assessing the impact of IFRS 8 on its segmental analysis disclosure.

Amendment to IAS 23, ‘Borrowing Costs’ (effective from 1 April 2009)
The amendment to IAS 23 eliminates the option to expense borrowing costs attributable to the acquisition, construction or production of a qualifying asset as incurred. As a result, the group will be required to capitalise such borrowing costs as part of the cost of that asset. The group is currently assessing the impact of the amendment upon the results and net assets of the group.

IFRIC 8, ‘Scope of IFRS 2’ (effective from 1 April 2007)
IFRIC 8 clarifies that transactions within the scope of IFRS 2 ‘Share Based Payment’ include those in which the entity cannot specifically identify some or all of the goods and services received. The group has assessed the impact of this interpretation and has concluded it is not likely to have a significant impact on the group’s financial statements.

IFRIC 9, ‘Reassessment of embedded derivatives’ (effective from 1 April 2007)
IFRIC 9 clarifies that an entity should assess whether an embedded derivative is required to be separated from the host contract and accounted for as a derivative when the entity first becomes a party to the contract. Subsequent reassessment is prohibited unless there is a change in the contract terms, in which case it is required. The group has assessed the impact of this interpretation and has concluded it is not likely to have a significant impact on the group’s financial statements.

IFRIC 10, ‘Financial Reporting and Impairment’ (effective from 1 April 2007)
IFRIC 10 states that impairment losses recognised in interim financial statements should not be reversed in subsequent interim or full year financial statements. The group has assessed the impact of this interpretation and has concluded it is not likely to have a significant impact on the group’s financial statements.

IFRIC 11, ‘IFRS 2 – Group and Treasury Share Transactions’ (effective from 1 April 2007)
IFRIC 11 provides guidance on whether share based payment arrangements involving group entities should be accounted for as cash settled or equity settled. The group has assessed the impact of this interpretation and has concluded it is not likely to have a significant impact on the group’s financial statements.

IFRIC 12, ‘Service Concession Arrangements’ (effective from 1 April 2008)
IFRIC 12 addresses the accounting by operators of public-private service concession arrangements. The group has assessed the impact of this interpretation and has concluded it is not likely to have a significant impact on the group’s financial statements.
 

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