IFRS 15, revenue policies, certain disclosures paras 110-128, telecoms

BT Group plc – Annual report – 31 March 2019

Industry: telecoms

6. Revenue (extract)
Significant accounting policies that apply to revenue
On inception of the contract we identify a “performance obligation” for each of the distinct goods or services we have promised to provide to the customer. The consideration specified in the contract with the customer is allocated to each performance obligation identified based on their relative standalone selling prices, and is recognised as revenue as they are satisfied.

The table below summarises the performance obligations we have identified for our major service lines and provides information on the timing of when they are satisfied and the related revenue recognition policy. Also detailed in this note is revenue expected to be recognised in future periods for contracts in place at 31 March 2019 that contain unsatisfied performance obligations.

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We recognise revenue based on the relative standalone selling price of each performance obligation. Determining the standalone selling price often requires judgement and may be derived from regulated prices, list prices, a cost-plus derived price, or the price of similar products when sold on a standalone basis by BT or a competitor. In some cases it may be appropriate to use the contract price when this represents a bespoke price that would be the same for a similar customer in a similar circumstance.

The fixed element of fixed access and mobile subscription arrangements sold by our Consumer business is typically payable in advance, with any variable or one-off charges billed in arrears. Payment is received immediately for direct sales of equipment to customers. Where equipment is provided to customers under mobile and fixed access subscription arrangements, payment for the equipment is received over the course of the contract term. For sales by our enterprise businesses, invoices are issued in line with contractual terms. Payments received in advance are recognised as contract liabilities, amounts billed in arrears are recognised as contract assets.

We do not have any material obligations in respect of returns, refunds or warranties. Where we act as an agent in a transaction, we recognise commission net of directly attributable costs. Where the actual and estimated costs to completion of the contract exceed the estimated revenue, a loss is recognised immediately.

We exercise judgement in assessing whether the initial set-up, transition and transformation phases of long-term contracts are distinct from the other services to be delivered under the contract and therefore represent distinct performance obligations. This determines whether revenue is recognised in the early stages of the contract, or deferred until delivery of the other services promised in the contract begins.

We recognise immediately the entire estimated loss for a contract when we have evidence that the contract is unprofitable. If these estimates indicate that any contract will be less profitable than previously forecast, contract assets may have to be written down to the extent they are no longer considered to be fully recoverable. We perform ongoing profitability reviews of our contracts in order to determine whether the latest estimates are appropriate. Key factors reviewed include:
• Transaction volumes or other inputs affecting future revenues which can vary depending on customer requirements, plans, market position and other factors such as general economic conditions.
• Our ability to achieve key contract milestones connected with the transition, development, transformation and deployment phases for customer contracts.
• The status of commercial relations with customers and the implications for future revenue and cost projections.
• Our estimates of future staff and third-party costs and the degree to which cost savings and efficiencies are deliverable.

Disaggregation of revenue from contracts with customers
The following table disaggregates revenue from contracts with customers by our major service lines and by reportable segment. The prior year comparatives have been presented consistent with the presentation in last year’s Annual Report under IAS 18.

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Revenue expected to be recognised in future periods for performance obligations that are not complete (or are partially complete) as at 31 March 2019 is £14,296m. Of this, £9,425m relates to ICT and managed services contracts and equipment and other services which will substantially be recognised as revenue within five years. Fixed access and mobile subscription services typically have shorter contract periods and so £4,871m will substantially be recognised as revenue within two years. Revenue recognised this year relating to performance obligations that were satisfied, or partially satisfied, in previous years was not material.

Contract assets and liabilities
Significant accounting policies that apply to contract assets and liabilities
We recognise contract assets for goods and services for which control has transferred to the customer before consideration is due. These assets mainly relate to mobile handsets provided upfront but paid for over the course of a contract. Contract assets are reclassified as receivables when the right to payment becomes unconditional and we have billed the customer.

Contract liabilities are recognised when we have received advance payment for goods and services that we have not transferred to the customer. These primarily relate to fees received for connection and installation services that are not distinct performance obligations.

Where the initial set-up, transition or transformation phase of a long-term contract is considered to be a distinct performance obligation we recognise a contract asset for any work performed but not billed. Conversely a contract liability is recognised where these activities are not distinct performance obligations and we receive upfront consideration. In this case eligible costs associated with delivering these services are capitalised as fulfilment costs, see note 17.

We provide for expected lifetime losses on contract assets following the policy set out in note 17.

Contract assets and liabilities recognised at 31 March 2019 are as follows:

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£1,216m of the contract liability recognised at 1 April 2018 was recognised as revenue during the year. Impairment losses of £36m were recognised on contract assets during the year. Other than business-as-usual movements there were no significant changes in contract asset and liability balances during the year.

17. Trade and other receivables
Significant accounting policies that apply to trade and other receivables
We initially recognise trade and other receivables at fair value, which is usually the original invoiced amount. They are subsequently carried at amortised cost using the effective interest method. The carrying amount of these balances approximates to fair value due to the short maturity of amounts receivable.

We provide services to consumer and business customers, 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. Because of this, we recognise an allowance for doubtful debts on initial recognition of receivables, which is deducted from the gross carrying amount of the receivable. The allowance is calculated by reference to credit losses expected to be incurred over the lifetime of the receivable. In estimating a loss allowance we consider historical experience and informed credit assessment alongside other factors such as the current state of the economy and particular industry issues. We consider reasonable and supportable information that is relevant and available without undue cost or effort.

Once recognised, trade receivables are continuously monitored and updated. Allowances are based on our historical loss experiences for the relevant aged category as well as forward-looking information and general economic conditions. Allowances are calculated by individual customer-facing units in order to reflect the specific nature of the customers relevant to that customer-facing unit.

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a 2017/18 includes £325m in respect of the acquisition of Spectrum.
b Accrued income recognised in prior years has been substantially reclassified to contract assets on adoption of IFRS 15. See notes 1 and 2.
c Deferred contract costs arise following adoption of IFRS 15 on 1 April 2018. See notes 1 and 2.
d Other receivables includes assets held for sale of £nil (2017/18: £nil, 2016/17: £22m). £89m assets held for sale as at 31 March 2019 are presented separately on the face of the balance sheet.
e Other assets comprise prepayments and leasing debtors. Included in prior year comparatives are costs relating to the initial set-up, transition or transformation phase of long-term networked IT services contracts (2017/18: £145m, 2016/17: £163m), which are presented within deferred contract costs following adoption of IFRS 15.

Trade receivables are stated after deducting allowances for doubtful debts, as follows:

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Included within the 2016/17 expense above are amounts for exposures relating to the Italian business investigation.

Note 27 provides further disclosure regarding the credit quality of our gross trade receivables. Trade receivables are due as follows:

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Gross trade receivables which have been specifically impaired amounted to £57m (2017/18: £124m, 2016/17: £238m).

Trade receivables not past due and accrued income are analysed below by customer-facing unit.

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Given the broad and varied nature of our customer base, the analysis of trade receivables not past due and accrued income by customer-facing unit is considered the most appropriate disclosure of credit concentrations. Cash collateral held against trade and other receivables amounted to £9m (2017/18: £6m, 2016/17: £4m).

Deferred contract costs
Significant accounting policies that apply to deferred contract costs
We capitalise certain costs associated with the acquisition and fulfilment of contracts with customers and amortise them over the period that we transfer the associated services.

Connection costs are deferred as contract fulfilment costs because they allow satisfaction of the associated connection performance obligation and are considered recoverable. Sales commissions and other third party contract acquisition costs are capitalised as costs to acquire a contract unless the associated contract term is less than 12 months, in which case they are expensed as incurred. Capitalised costs are amortised over the minimum contract term. A portfolio approach is used to determine contract term.

Where the initial set-up, transition and transformation phases of long-term contractual arrangements represent distinct performance obligations, costs in delivering these services are expensed as incurred. Where these services are not distinct performance obligations, we capitalise eligible costs as a cost of fulfilling the related service. Capitalised costs are amortised on a straight line basis over the remaining contract term, unless the pattern of service delivery indicates a more appropriate profile. To be eligible for capitalisation, costs must be directly attributable to specific contracts, relate to future activity, and generate future economic benefits. Capitalised costs are regularly assessed for recoverability.

The following table shows the movement on deferred costs:

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