A statement from The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts:
The Department for Communities and Local Government has had its accounts qualified this financial year, in two separate instances of poor financial management.
Against a limit of £28,971,571,000 for net cash, the Department spent £29,027,027,000. In a shocking example of incompetence, no one was keeping an eye on the cash position. When Treasury raised it as an issue in February it was too late for the Department to stop itself going over the limit. The Department finished the year £217 million overdrawn which incurred Treasury imposed penalty charges of £0.02 million. This is an unacceptable abuse and waste of public money that could have been avoided with the right financial oversight.
The Department also went over its capital limit for local government spending. Against a limit of £80,000, two arm’s length bodies, the Valuation Tribunal Service (VTS) and the Commission of Local Administration in England (CLAE), spent a total of £1,221,000.
I am staggered that the Department has been so blasé with its resources and so poor at staying within some of its budgets. If local authorities, for whom the Department is responsible, acted in this way, the Department would be down on them like a ton of bricks. The Department for Communities and Local Government must learn lessons and ensure it does not repeat these mistakes.