Public Accounts Committee

Whole of Government Accounts 2017-18 inquiry

Inquiry status: open

Contact pubaccom@parliament.uk if you would like to submit written evidence to this inquiry

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. Bringing together the financial performance and position of over 8,000 organisations, the WGA provides the most complete and accurate picture of the UK public sector finances for 2017-18.

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.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have previously said that the usefulness of WGA is limited by the time it takes to produce: HM Treasury (HMT) did not publish the 2017-18 WGA until 23 May 2019, which was 14 months after year end. This because producing the WGA has a number of challenges: HMT has to align the different accounting policies used by different public bodies, adjust for different year ends and identify and remove intragroup transactions. Although the 2017-18 WGA was published one month earlier than the previous year, HMT has not fully explained the cost and quality trade-offs required to produce it more quickly.

On 19 June, the PAC will question HMT on its plans for meeting its ambition to publish WGA within 9 months of the year end. It will also examine how well HMT understands how the WGA is used and the steps it is taking to improve the information within the WGA to encourage its wider use. The Committee may also take this opportunity to challenge HMT on its oversight of some of the wider risks to the sustainability of public finances, particularly in areas such as health, local government and defence.

Read the 2017-18 Whole of Government Accounts the Committee’s recommendations from its report on the 2016-17 WGA.

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