Reports and Publications

Most of the Scrutiny Unit's work involves producing analysis and briefing for committees and is not separately published.

The Unit does however from time to time produce briefing notes on specialist subject areas which, although intended primarily for the benefit of Committees and MPs, may also be of wider interest.

Data visualisations: public spending

The Scrutiny Unit has produced a number of visual representations of the Government’s spending plans, highlighting key numbers and issues of interest.  These documents are derived from publicly available information and were prepared originally for the benefit of Departmental Select Committees.

  • Main Estimates 2017-18

This is an interactive chart of departmental budgets, based on the Main Estimates for 2017-18, which lets one view and compare how much money goes into each department (and its individual spending areas) at a glance.

Estimates: briefing papers

What is Financial Scrutiny?

This guide shows how Members of Select Committees can engage in financial scrutiny at different stages of policy development from formulation of the initial idea within a Government department right through to policy implementation. It gives some ideas of the types of questions that Members can ask and what a good or poor response on the part of Government might look like. It also explains how the Scrutiny Unit can help Members with financial scrutiny. The guide is illustrated by examples of how Select Committees have engaged in financial scrutiny in practice.

This booklet provides a guide to financial scrutiny, why it matters, what it involves and how it links to performance.  It sets out the key stages in the spending cycle and the role committees and others play in holding government to account.  (3rd Edition, last revised November 2017).


This research was the first systematic evaluation of the outcomes of the Business Rate Retention Scheme since its inception in 2013, using a wide range of analytical tools from statistical analysis to original modelling.

Proposals for reform

The Procedure Committee makes recommendations for reform of the arrangements for scrutinising and authorising government expenditure in their report:

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee outlines their recommendations for reforms to government accounts in their report:

This report makes recommendations for reforms to government accounts.

Finance glossary

A glossary of financial terms, with particular reference to Government.

Please note that current guidance to Government Departments on preparation of Estimates memoranda for Committees is now contained on the HM Treasury website.

An archive of older material prepared by the Scrutiny Unit is available on our Archives page