Scope of the inquiry
The Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) is a single set of accounts consolidating the financial activities of the UK public sector, published on an annual basis. The WGA consolidates the financial activities of over 7,000 organisations across the public sector, including: central government departments, devolved governments, local authorities, the NHS, academies and public corporations like the Bank of England.
The WGA is becoming increasingly vital to the ongoing management of the public finances, with HM Treasury continuing to raise the impact and profile of the accounts. The latest WGA will give the Committee the opportunity to examine the latest financial position of the UK Government and consider the sustainability of wider-public finances.
As the UK exits the EU, analysis of cross-government finances and movements in transactions and balances reported in the accounts will be crucial. While the costs of exit are still unknown, last year the Committee asked that the WGA includes a line on Brexit costs. The Budget 2018 announced £500m of additional funding for departments to help prepare for EU exit; bringing the government’s investment in EU exit preparations to over £4 billion since 2016. The Committee will examine how clearly and transparently these costs are disclosed in the accounts.
Last year, the Committee recommended that HM Treasury produce the WGA more quickly, make the presentation more useful and transparent, and strengthen balance sheet analysis. While there have been improvements, there are still a number of issues with completeness and accuracy, including: the omission of some significant bodies from the accounts, including Royal Bank of Scotland, and inconsistent accounting policies across organisations. The session will give the Committee the opportunity to challenge the Treasury on action taken to improve the WGA.
Read the Whole of Government Accounts and the Committee’s recommendations from last year.