COMMONS

Statement from PAC Chair on Whole of Government Accounts

01 November 2012

A statement from The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts:

 

The Whole of Government Accounts plays an important role in assisting Parliament to hold government to account on behalf of the taxpayer. However, it still falls short of providing the public and parliament a complete view of the UK's financial position. The quality and completeness of information that the government collects needs to improve. Up to £40 billion of local authority schools' assets lack complete and robust data. It is not acceptable for publicly owned banks, Network Rail and some 40 per cent of academies to not feature in the accounts.

 

The enormous sums of money involved demonstrate the significance of individual spending decisions and risks Treasury needs to have a firm grip on. The taxpayer's exposure to civil service pension liabilities is set at £960bn. Future taxpayer commitments under PFI schemes increased 10 per cent on 2009-10 figures to £145 billion. The cost of nuclear decommissioning also rose by £4 billion in just one year to almost £61 billion. The cost to the taxpayer of settling outstanding claims for clinical negligence was estimated at over £17 billion, while the amount of unpaid tax written off by the government was above £5 billion.

 

Treasury needs to be bolder in its use of WGA to inform future spending decisions. My committee will expect to see it to ramp up its efforts to produce a better quality WGA that is comprehensive and delivered more swiftly. The 2010-11 WGA took 19 months after the end of the financial year to be completed. We will take a close interest in how Treasury implements the C&AG's recommendations over the coming months.

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