- The role of prescribed persons27 February 2015
The wider government needs to do more to understand the experience of whistleblowers and to act where whistleblowers suffer detriment.HC: 1033, 2014-15
- Reforming defence acquisition26 February 2015
MOD has made good progress stabilising the equipment programme but needs to set out how a bespoke trading entity will transform Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) into the leading defence acquisition organisation by 2017.HC: 946, 2014-15
- Inspection: A comparative study13 February 2015
The NAO acknowledges the vital role played by inspectorates but identifies inconsistency in the extent to which they are independent of government and in their reporting arrangements, which can limit their impact.HC: 1030, 2014-15
- Increasing the effectiveness of tax collection: a stocktake of progress since 20106 February 2015
HMRC has made good progress towards maximising revenue and making cost savings but also needs to do much more to improve its customer service.HC: 1029, 2014-15
- Care services for people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour4 February 2015
The Government did not meet its goal of transferring by 1 June 2014 all people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour, for whom it was appropriate, from mental hospitals into the community. HC: 1028, 2014-15
- UK Guarantees scheme for infrastructure28 January 2015
Under the Scheme, the Treasury guarantees that lenders to infrastructure projects will be repaid in full and on time, irrespective of project performance. The NAO is calling for the Treasury to be rigorous and objective in assessing whether the guarantees, which transfer risk to the public sector, are genuinely needed.HC: 909, 2014-15
- Conflicts of interest27 January 2015
This report outlines the importance of recognising and adequately managing conflicts of interest.HC: 907, 2014-15
- Follow-up on the Charity Commission22 January 2015
The Charity Commission has made early progress in addressing NAO and Public Accounts Committee recommendations, but significant challenges remain.HC: 908, 2014-15
- Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report on the Department for Education financial statements 2013-1421 January 2015
The inability of the DfE to prepare financial statements providing a true and fair view of financial activity by its group of bodies means that it is not meeting the accountability requirements of Parliament.HC: 745, 2014-15
- Managing the Official Development Assistance target16 January 2015
The Department for International Development met, for the calendar year 2013, the government target to spend 0.7% of the UK’s annual gross national income on overseas aid.HC: 950, 2014-15
- Progress in improving cancer services and outcomes in England15 January 2015
There is considerable scope to make further improvements in cancer services and patient outcomes across England.HC: 949, 2014-15
- Major Projects Report 2014 and the Equipment Plan 2014 to 202413 January 2015
We publish our examination of the assumptions made by the MOD in its annual statement of its 10-year equipment plan.HC: 941, 2014-15
- Paying government suppliers on time8 January 2015
There is little evidence that government’s commitment to pay 80% of undisputed invoices within 5 working days is having the intended effect of helping the UK’s 5 million small and medium-sized enterprises.HC: 906, 2014-15
- Public Health England’s grant to local authorities17 December 2014
Public Health England has made a good start in supporting local authorities with their new responsibilities for public health but it is too soon to tell whether its approach is achieving value for money.HC: 888, 2014-15
- Further education and skills sector: implementing the Simplification Plan4 December 2014
A plan by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills to reduce complexity and administrative burdens in the further education and skills sector, despite improving some processes, has had only limited impact on providers’ costs.HC: 862, 2014-2015
- Investigation into financial support for students at alternative higher education providers2 December 2014
We focus on specific concerns about the financial support provided to students attending some alternative HE colleges and other providers.HC: 861, 2014-2015
- Ministry of Defence 2013-14 accounts1 December 2014
The Ministry of Defence has made significant improvements in its management of and accounting for assets held on its inventory systems. However, the Department recognizes that it still faces significant challenges.HC: 764, 2014-2015
- Follow-up: grants to the Big Society Network and the Society Network Foundation28 November 2014
The NAO looked at issues originally identified in an earlier report.HC: 840, 2014-2015
- Children in care27 November 2014
The Department for Education is not meeting its objectives to improve the quality of care and the stability of placements for children in care.HC: 787, 2014-2015
- Universal Credit: progress update26 November 2014
The DWP has reset Universal Credit on a sounder basis but at significant cost, by extending the time for implementation and choosing a more expensive approach.HC: 786, 2014-2015
- The effective management of tax reliefs21 November 2014
HM Treasury and HMRC do not keep track of tax reliefs intended to change behaviour, or adequately report to Parliament on whether tax reliefs work as expected.HC: 785, 2014-2015
- Implementing reforms to civil legal aid20 November 2014
The MoJ is on track to make significant and quick reductions in its spending on civil legal aid. But it is less clear to what extent it has met its objective of targeting legal aid at those who need it most.HC: 784, 2014-2015
- Financial sustainability of local authorities 201419 November 2014
Local authorities have worked hard to manage reductions in government funding, but the DCLG needs to be better informed about the situation across England.HC: 783, 2014-2015
- Investigation into the Education Funding Agency’s oversight of related party transactions at Durand Academy13 November 2014
We examine the Education Funding Agency’s oversight of the Durand Academy Trust’s compliance with guidance on conflicts of interest and related party transactions.HC: 782, 2014-2015
- Planning for the Better Care Fund11 November 2014
The Better Care Fund is an innovative idea but the quality of early preparation and planning did not match the scale of the ambition. Current plans forecast £314m of savings for the NHS rather than the £1 billion in early planning assumptions.HC: 781, 2014-2015
- The financial sustainability of NHS bodies7 November 2014
Financial risk is increasing in NHS trusts and foundation trusts. Those in severe financial difficulty continue to rely on cash support from the Department of Health.HC: 722, 2014-2015
- Strategic flood risk management5 November 2014
The Environment Agency has improved the cost effectiveness and prioritization of its flood risk spending but current spending is insufficient to meet many flood defence maintenance needs.HC: 780, 2014-2015
- Academies and maintained schools: Oversight and intervention30 October 2014
The Department is not able to demonstrate the effectiveness of how it and others intervene in underperforming maintained schools and academies.HC: 721, 2014-2015
- Lessons from major rail infrastructure programmes29 October 2014
This review of five major rail projects highlights lessons the Department for Transport should apply to current and future rail programmes.HC: 267, 14-15
- Managing and removing foreign national offenders22 October 2014
The Home Office has made slower progress than expected in managing foreign national offenders, despite increased resources and tougher powers.HC: 441, 2014-2015
- Housing Benefit fraud and error17 October 2014
The Department for Work & Pensions should have increased its focus on Housing Benefit fraud and error sooner, and is now facing an escalating problem.HC: 720, 2014-2015
- Funding healthcare: Making allocations to local areas11 September 2014
There is wide variation in the extent to which £79 billion in central funding allocated to local health bodies differs from target allocations that are based on relative need.
• This is NAO’s first report on funding since the 2013 health reforms took effect. Where possible comparisons have been made with funding under the previous system set out in a 2011 NAO report.
HC: 625, 2014-2015
- Update on the National Cyber Security Programme10 September 2014
Government continues to make good progress in implementing the Programme. It must, however increase the pace of change in some areas in the face of evolving cyber threats.HC: 626, 2014-2015
- Out-of-hours GP services in England9 September 2014
Although some areas of the NHS in England are achieving value for money for out-of-hours GP services, this is not the case across the board.HC: 439, 2014-2015
- Transforming government’s contract management4 September 2014
We published two reports today - Following the discovery of widespread and deep-rooted weaknesses in the government’s management of contracts it is starting to improve how it manages its contracts.HC: 269, 2014-2015. 268, 2014-2015
- 16- to 18-year-old participation in education and training3 September 2014
Value for money for the £7 billion spent on 16- to 18-year-olds has increased overall, but the Department needs better information on which reforms have proven most effective.HC: 624, 2014-2015
- Managing and replacing the Aspire contract22 July 2014
There are serious risks to HMRC’s business if the programme to replace the Aspire contract fails to meet its objectives by June 2017, when the contract ends.HC: 444, 2014-2015
- Reforming the UK border and immigration system22 July 2014
The new directorates that replaced the former UKBA have made progress in some areas but not across the whole business.HC: 445, 2014-2015
- Investigation into grants from the Big Lottery Fund and the Cabinet Office to the Big Society Network and the Society Network Foundation21 July 2014
The NAO has today published an investigation of two grants awarded by the Big Lottery Fund and one awarded by the Cabinet Office to three related organisations.HC: 572, 2014-2015
- The 2013-14 savings reported by the Efficiency and Reform Group16 July 2014
The Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) has achieved significant savings but further work should be done to improve the process of gathering and collating evidence.HC: 442, 2014-2015
- Procuring new trains9 July 2014
Long-standing issues in the rail industry and the scale of the procurements led to the DfT’s decision to lead the procurements itself, despite not having led a major rolling stock procurement before.HC: 531, 2014-2015
- Oversight of the Private Infrastructure Development Group4 July 2014
Despite providing substantially increased funding for PIDG (up to £700 million by 2015), the Department has not exercised enough oversight to ensure value for money has been achieved.HC: 265,2013-2014
- Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs 2013-14 accounts3 July 2014
The report covers HMRC’s progress in operating the PAYE service, its implementation of its new Real Time Information service and its performance in tax collection and in reducing error and fraud in personal tax credits.HC: 19, 2014-2015
- Government grant services3 July 2014
Government has given less attention to grants than to other policy funding mechanisms, despite grant funding being higher in value, making up 41 per cent (£292 billion) of its total expenditure.HC: 472, 2014-2015
- The Work Programme2 July 2014
After a poor start, the performance of the Work Programme is at similar levels to previous programmes but is less than original forecast. The Department has struggled to improve outcomes for harder-to-help groups. The Programme has the potential to offer value for money if it can achieve the higher rates of performance the Department now expects.HC: 266, 2013-2014
- Social Fund White Paper Account 2013-1430 June 2014
For the first time since 2009-10, the Social Fund White Paper account has not been qualified on the grounds of the completeness, existence and valuation of the debt balance.HC: 423, 2013-2014
- Early contracts for renewable electricity27 June 2014
The Government awarded, without competition, £16.6 billion worth of early contracts to eight renewable generation projects at risk of investment delay.HC: 172 2014-15
- Department for Work and Pensions 2013-14 accounts26 June 2014
The Comptroller and Auditor General has qualified his audit opinion owing to the material level of fraud and error in benefit expenditure.HC: 13, 2014-2015
- Local government funding: Assurance to Parliament25 June 2014
The Department has increased local authorities’ flexibility over their funding, but as a result has less information on how funds are being spent.HC: 174, 2014-2015
- Child maintenance 2012 scheme: Early Progress20 June 2014
The DWP has simplified the way it administers child maintenance and is approaching expected levels of performance. But overall objectives might be at risk if the number of people using family-based arrangements does not increase.HC: 173, 2014-2015
- The centre of government19 June 2014
This report draws together insights from our previous reports and those of the PAC on the role of, and recent changes to, the centre of government. The centre of government has responsibility for coordinating and overseeing the work of government, enabling it to achieve its strategic aims and ensuring there is a central view of the effective operation of government as a whole. Most of these strategic functions are performed by the Cabinet Office and the Treasury.HC: 171, 2014-2015
- Oversight of three PFI waste projects17 June 2014
All three projects examined by the NAO have experienced significant delays stemming from a range of problems.HC: 264, 2014-2015
- Army 202011 June 2014
The MOD decision to reduce the size of the regular Army and increase the number of trained Army reserves was taken without appropriate testing of feasibility or evaluation of risk.HC: 263, 2014-2015
- NAO Annual Report and Accounts 2013-149 June 2014
The Annual Report highlights that, during 2013-14, we certified 427 accounts, published 66 value for money reports, supported 60 hearings of the Committee of Public Accounts and exceeded our cost reduction target. Our recommendations and reports helped government improve public services, and our work led to audited savings of almost £1.1 billion.
HC: 170, 2014-2015
- Maintaining strategic infrastructure: roads6 June 2014
The lack of predictability of funding for highways authorities has practical implications for road networks and may lead to increased costs in the long term.HC: 169, 2014-2015
- Thames Tideway Tunnel: early review of potential risks to value for money5 June 2014
The Thames Tideway Tunnel is a planned project to build a large sewer running under the River Thames. It is the Government’s preferred solution to the problem of spills from London’s sewers into the tidal part of the Thames. In response to correspondence, we explain the roles of the different parties, identify potential risks to value for money and set out what we expect good project management to look like. To avoid influencing the outcome of ongoing competitions for the construction and financing of the project, we do not evaluate the value for money of the project and the issues raised do not imply any audit judgement about its performance.HC: 168, 2014-2015
- Update on preparations for Smart Metering5 June 2014
The economic case for the smart metering programme remains positive but there are significant risks and challenges to successful implementation, which must be managed.HC: 167, 2014-2015
- Remploy’s disposal of its Enterprise Businesses3 April 2014
Remploy and the Department for Work & Pensions completed the disposal of Remploy factories within a tight timetable and below budget.HC: 1183, 2013-2014
- The Privatisation of Royal Mail1 April 2014
The Department was successful in floating Royal Mail. But its approach was marked by deep caution, the price of which was borne by the taxpayer.HC: 1182, 2013-2014
- Update on the Next Generation Shared Services Strategy31 March 2014
The Cabinet Office will have to work with other government departments to ensure that the full benefits of its shared services strategy are realised.HC: 1101, 2013-2014
- Tax reliefs28 March 2014
There are more than 1000 tax reliefs in the UK tax system. The NAO intends to carry out future work evaluating how they are developed and implemented.HC: 1256, 2013-2014
- Regulating financial services25 March 2014
The new system of regulating financial services will need to demonstrate in future that the cost of two regulators achieves value for money for customers.HC: 1072, 2013-2014
- Making a whistleblowing policy work18 March 2014
The National Audit Office has today published its second report on whistleblowing. The NAO’s first report reviewed whistleblowing policies from 39 bodies, including its own, against good practice.
HC: 1152, 2013-2014
- Adult social care in England: overview13 March 2014
The provision of adequate adult social care poses a significant public service challenge. Demand for care is rising while public spending is falling.HC: 1102, 2013-2014
- 4G radio spectrum auction: lessons learned12 March 2014
In its sale of the 4G radio spectrum the Office of Communications (Ofcom) achieved its objective of maintaining a competitive market with a number of competing providers.HC: 968, 2013-2014
- The Criminal Justice System: Landscape Review7 March 2014
Major changes are being made to the criminal justice system, however much remains to be done to tackle inefficiency within the system.HC: 1098, 2013-2014
- The Help to Buy equity loan scheme6 March 2014
The Help to Buy equity loan scheme is improving access to mortgage finance, but the scheme’s costs will be substantial.HC: 1099, 2013-2014
- Probation: landscape review5 March 2014
The National Audit Office has today published a review, which summarizes the main elements of the reform currently under way in the probation sector, and identifies the key issues now facing those involved in probation. HC: 1100, 2013-2014
- Personal Independence Payment: early progress27 February 2014
The DWP has had to delay the Personal Independence Payment programme’s roll-out and reduce expected savings during this Spending Review period.HC: 1070, 2013-2014
- Monitor: Regulating NHS foundation trusts26 February 2014
Monitor has achieved value for money in regulating NHS foundation trusts, and has generally been effective in helping trusts in difficulty to improve.HC: 1071, 2013-2014
- Progress report on the Regional Growth Fund25 February 2014
Improvements have been made to the running of the Regional Growth Fund, but there is still a significant amount of public money to allocate through the Fund.HC: 1097, 2013-2014
- Managing debt owed to central government14 February 2014
Government is owed a large amount of money but has no overall view of its debt reduction objectives nor of the financial risk that the debt poses.HC: 967, 2013-2014
- Equipment Plan 2013 – 202313 February 2014
MOD’s procurement budget is now more stable, despite a £754m increase in the cost of the carriers, but there are still risks to the affordability of the equipment plan.HC: 816, 2013-2014
- The Major Projects Report 201313 February 2014
MOD’s procurement budget is now more stable, despite a £754m increase in the cost of the carriers, but there are still risks to the affordability of the equipment plan.HC: 817, 2013-2014
- Progress on public bodies reform7 February 2014
The Public Bodies Reform Programme is making good progress in abolishing or merging public bodies and reducing their costs, but triennial reviews of remaining bodies need to be much more effective.HC: 1048, 2013-2014
- Major Projects Authority Annual Report 2012-13 and government project assurance4 February 2014
This memorandum is intended to support a Public Accounts Committee hearing on the Major Projects Authority and its first annual report, published in May 2013.HC: 1047, 2013-2014
- Forecasting in government to achieve value for money31 January 2014
Inadequate forecasting is an entrenched problem for government departments, leading to poor value for money and increased costs for the taxpayer.HC: 969, 2013-2014
- Performance and capability of the Education Funding Agency29 January 2014
The Education Funding Agency has fulfilled most of its day-to-day responsibilities, but faces increasing expectations from the Department for Education.HC: 966, 2013-2014
- Crossrail24 January 2014
The DfT and Transport for London have done well to protect taxpayers’ interests in Crossrail but risks remain including delivery of the trains.HC: 965, 2013-2014
- NHS waiting times for elective care in England23 January 2014
The NAO has identified inconsistencies in the way trusts measure waiting time and errors in the time recorded.HC: 964, 2013-2014
- Police accountability: Landscape review22 January 2014
The new policing oversight framework has been in place for a year but already there are gaps in the system with the potential to undermine accountability both to the Home Office and the public.HC: 963, 2013-2014
- The Ministry of Justice’s language services contract: Progress update22 January 2014
Progress has been made in improving the implementation of the MoJ’s language services contract, but there are a number of areas it and Capita still need to work on.HC: 995, 2013-2014
- COMPASS contracts for the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers10 January 2014
G4S and Serco, two of the new providers awarded Home Office contracts to provide accommodation for asylum seekers in the UK, struggled to get the contracts up and running.HC: 880, 2013-14
- Northern Ireland National Insurance Fund Account18 December 2013
The NAO welcomes the progress being made by the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency in reducing levels of fraud and error in benefit payments.HC: 894, 2013-2014
- The first sale of shares in Lloyds Banking Group18 December 2013
The Government’s first sale of shares in Lloyds Banking Group was managed very effectively by United Kingdom Financial Investments Limited.HC: 883, 2013-2014
- Confiscation Orders17 December 2013
The use of confiscation orders to deny criminals the proceeds of their crimes is not proving to be value for money.HC: 738, 2013-2014
- Council Tax Support13 December 2013
Not all local authorities’ Council Tax support scheme will achieve the objectives outlined by the Department of Communities and Local Government.HC: 882, 2013-2014
- Managing the prison estate12 December 2013
The current strategy for the prison estate has provided good quality accommodation, but has resulted in the closure of several prisons that were performing well.HC: 735, 2013-2014
- Establishing Free Schools11 December 2013
Many new Free Schools have been established quickly and at relatively low cost but the DfE will need to tackle a rising cost trend and systematically learn lessons from problems in a few early wave schools.HC: 881, 2013-14
- Funding and structures for local economic growth6 December 2013
It has not yet been demonstrated that funding mechanisms for supporting local economic growth are capable of delivering value for money.HC: 542, 2013-14
- Helping consumers to manage their money5 December 2013
The Service has achieved value for money for debt advice but has not yet shown that its money advice is achieving value for money.HC: 879, 2013-2014
- The regulatory effectiveness of the Charity Commission4 December 2013
The Charity Commission is not regulating charities effectively. It fails to take tough action in some serious cases and makes poor use of its powers.HC: 813, 2013-2014
- The Cup Trust4 December 2013
The NAO found that the Charity Commission did not properly consider whether The Cup Trust met the key legal requirement of being within the jurisdiction of the High Court of England and Wales before registering it as a charity in 2009, and was slow in handling the case. HC: 814, 2013-2014
- Programmes to help families facing multiple challenges3 December 2013
Two government programmes aiming to help families with multiple challenges, such as unemployment and anti-social behaviour, are starting to provide benefits but considerable challenges remain.HC: 878, 2013-2014
- Student loan repayments28 November 2013
BIS will not be well-placed to secure value for money on student loan repayments until it has a more robust strategy to improve collection performance.HC: 818, 2013-14
- The Levy Control Framework27 November 2013
The Levy Control Framework is a valuable tool for supporting control of costs to consumers arising from government energy policies, but it has not been fully effective in key areas.HC: 815, 2013-2014
- Gift Aid and reliefs on donations21 November 2013
HMRC and the Treasury do not know if incentives designed to increase charitable giving, at a cost to the taxpayer of £940 million in 2012-13, have resulted in more income for charities.HC: 733, 2013-2014
- The Ministry of Justice’s electronic monitoring contracts19 November 2013
This memorandum sets out the events surrounding the Ministry of Justice’s process to re-compete its electronic monitoring contracts and its subsequent decision to commission a forensic audit of these contractsHC: 737, 2013-2014
- Infrastructure investment: the impact on consumer bills13 November 2013
Large-scale infrastructure spending by the private sector over ten years or more will increase consumer utility bills but government and regulators do not know by how much or whether the bills will be affordable.HC: 812- I, 2013-2014
- Memorandum on Managing government suppliers12 November 2013
The NAO challenges government and its private sector contractors to work together more effectively in taxpayers’ interest and address the issues behind the current crisis of confidence in contracting out public services.HC: 811, 2013-2014
- Memorandum on the role of major contractors in the delivery of public services12 November 2013
The NAO challenges government and its private sector contractors to work together more effectively in taxpayers’ interest and address the issues behind the current crisis of confidence in contracting out public services.HC: 810, 2013-2014
- Maternity services in England8 November 2013
Most women have good outcomes from NHS maternity services, but there are significant and unexplained variations in performance around the country.HC: 794, 2013-14
- Improving access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises1 November 2013
The range of government initiatives to help small and medium businesses gain access to finance are not operating as a unified programme.HC: 734, 2013-2014
- Emergency admissions to hospital: managing the demand31 October 2013
Many emergency admissions to hospital are avoidable and many patients stay in hospital longer than is necessary.HC: 739, 2013-2014
- Assurance of reported savings at Sellafield29 October 2013
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s systems for recording and challenging claimed savings at Sellafield give moderate assurance of reported overall savings since 2009-10.HC: 778, 2013-2014
- Supporting UK exporters overseas16 October 2013
The FCO and UKTI will need to contribute much more effectively to efforts to increase the value of UK exports to £1 trillion a year by 2020.HC: 732, 2013-2014
- The Sovereign Grant10 October 2013
The National Audit Office has today supplied a memorandum to the Public Accounts Committee on the Sovereign Grant and its financial management. HC: 722, 2013-2014
- Food safety and authenticity in the processed meat supply chain10 October 2013
The horsemeat incident in January 2013 exposed weaknesses in control in the food supply chain.HC: 685, 2013-2014
- Confidentiality clauses and special severance payments – follow up8 October 2013
The NAO reports on the use of confidentiality clauses and severance payments in three more areas of government.HC: 684, 2013-14
- Spinning-out MyCSP as a mutual joint venture12 September 2013
MyCSP has the potential to be good value for money with a projected saving of 50 per cent on costs, but the Cabinet Office and MyCSP still face many large challenges in transforming the service.HC: 538, 2013-2014
- Managing the risks of legacy ICT to public service delivery11 September 2013
Older ICT systems critical for the delivery of key public services (‘legacy ICT’) expose departments to risks which must be understood and managed.HC: 539, 2013-2014
- Universal Credit: early progress5 September 2013
Universal Credit plans were driven by an ambitious timescale, and this led to the adoption of a new approach. The programme suffered from weak management and ineffective control.HC: 621, 2013-2014
- The Border Force: securing the border4 September 2013
The Border Force has successfully implemented full passenger checks and cut queuing times but at the cost of maintaining other aspects of border security.HC: 540, 2013-2014
- 2012-13 update on indicators of financial sustainability in the NHS18 July 2013
There was a surplus of £2.1 billion across the NHS in 2012-13, matching that in 2011-12. However, there are signs of increasing pressure.HC: 590, 2013-2014
- Royal Air Force Museum White Paper 2012-201318 July 2013
Amyas Morse, the Comptroller and Auditor General, has qualified his audit opinion on the 2012-13 Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum accounts in relation to the part of the Museum staff’s pay award for which it did not have ministerial approval.HC: 599, 2013-2014
- Charges for customer telephone lines18 July 2013
Government is continuing to make extensive use of higher rate telephone numbers for customer telephone lines, despite efforts by departments to reduce their use.HC: 541, 2013-2014
- Financial statements of the Youth Justice Board 2012-1317 July 2013
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, has today qualified the accounts of the Youth Justice Board (YJB).HC: 520, 2013-2014
- Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General: Whole of Government Accounts 2011-1217 July 2013
The Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) are the consolidated financial statements for the whole of the UK public sector, showing what the UK Government spends and receives, and what it owns and owes.HC: 531, 2013-2014
- HM Treasury Resource Accounts 2012-1316 July 2013
The National Audit Office has today reported on progress in the Treasury’s interventions to maintain financial stability, its wider support for the economy, its capacity to respond to future financial crises, and new reporting developments.HC: 34, 2013-2014
- National Employment Savings Trust Corporation Accounts 2012-1316 July 2013
The Comptroller and Auditor General has qualified his audit opinion on the regularity of the National Employment Savings Trust Corporation’s 2012-13 Annual Report and Accounts, on the ground that the Corporation incurred fraudulent expenditure in the year.HC: 494, 2013-14
- Government Interventions to Support Future Retirement Incomes12 July 2013
Measures to encourage people to save for retirement are not being managed by Departments with enough coherence or accountability.HC: 536, 2013-2014
- Managing the transition to the reformed health system10 July 2013
Although new organisations set up as part of the reformed health system were ready to start functioning on time, the transition to the system is not yet complete.HC: 537, 2013-2014
- The 2012-13 savings reported by the Efficiency and Reform Group8 July 2013
The Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) has achieved significant savings for the taxpayer and has improved the process of calculating government savings. HC: 126, 2013-2014
- The rural broadband programme5 July 2013
The programme to make superfast broadband widely available in each area of the UK is currently expected to be delivered nearly two years later than planned.HC: 535, 2013-2014
- Office of Communications Section 400 (licence fees and penalties) account4 July 2013
Our report provides assurance to Parliament over the regularity and propriety of the high-value transactions generated by the 4G auction process.HC: 390, 2013-2014
- Malaria3 July 2013
Malaria is a serious health risk. Further progress in the fight against the disease will depend on a growth in commitment and capacity from countries receiving UK aid.HC: 534, 2013-14
- Ministry of Defence Accounts 2012-132 July 2013
Amyas Morse, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), has qualified his audit opinion on the MOD’s 2012-13 accounts.HC: 38, 2013-2014
- Social Fund White Paper Account 2012-1328 June 2013
The Comptroller and Auditor General’s audit of the DWP’s Social Fund White Paper Account for 2012-13 has revealed substantial improvements in many areas over which he had previously expressed concerns.
HC: 393, 2013-2014
- Confidentiality clauses and special severance payments21 June 2013
There is a lack of transparency, consistency and accountability in the use of compromise agreements in the public sector and little is being done to change this.HC: 130, 2013-14
- Building capability in the Senior Civil Service to meet today’s challenges19 June 2013
The government now accepts the urgent need for a skilled cross-departmental leadership group - but this requires changing the long-standing culture of the Senior Civil Service. HC: 129, 2013-14
- Financial management in government13 June 2013
Stronger financial management will be needed in departments if they are to speed up the restructuring of service delivery.HC: 131, 2013-14
- Progress in tackling tobacco smuggling6 June 2013
Tobacco smuggling is a significant threat to tax revenues. HMRC’s renewed strategy sets out the right measures but the Department’s performance is disappointing.HC: 226, 2013-14
- Progress in delivering the Thameslink programme5 June 2013
Thameslink aims to reduce overcrowding and journey times. Initial progress has been good but a 3 year delay in awarding the train contract puts the 2018 programme deadline at risk.HC: 227, 2013-14
- Access to clinical trial information and the stockpiling of Tamiflu21 May 2013
There is broad agreement that Tamiflu reduces the length of illness, but the consensus breaks down on whether it prevents serious complications and deaths.HC: 125, 2013-14
- NAO Annual Report and Accounts 2012-1321 May 2013
The Annual Report highlights that, during 2012-13, we certified 437 accounts, published 63 value for money reports, supported 57 hearings of the Committee of Public Accounts and met our efficiency targets. Our recommendations and reports helped government improve public services, and our work led to audited savings of almost £1.2 billion.
HC: 62, 2013-2014
- High Speed 2: A review of early programme preparation16 May 2013
The strategic case for HS2, in terms of increasing rail capacity and generating regional growth, has still to be demonstrated clearly.HC: 124, 2013-2014
- Carrier Strike: The 2012 reversion decision10 May 2013
The MOD acted promptly to revert to the decision to buy the vertical take-off version of the Joint Strike Fighter but will have to manage significant risks.HC: 63, 2013-2014
- Administering the Equitable Life Payment Scheme24 April 2013
The Equitable Life payment scheme runs the risk of failing to meet payment targets and over-running on costs.
(If you think you may be entitled to a payment, please contact The Equitable Life Payment Scheme
or call 0300 0200 150)
- The Efficiency and Reform Group17 April 2013
ERG has contributed significantly to departmental savings in 2011-12 but substantial and sustainable new savings streams will be needed to achieve £20bn of savings in 2014-15.HC: 956, 2012 - 2013
- Digital Britain 2: Putting users at the heart of government’s digital services28 March 2013
There is scope for greater use of online public services but there are still significant numbers of people who cannot go online or do not wish to do so.HC: 1048, 2012-2013
- The New Homes Bonus27 March 2013
The NAO believes a review of the New Homes Bonus scheme is essential to ensure the Department understands the substantial financial risks to local authorities.HC: 1047, 2012-2013
- Police procurement26 March 2013
Police forces in England and Wales could make savings by working together to improve their buying power for essential goods and servicesHC: 1046, 2012-2013
- Capital funding for new school places15 March 2013
The Department has increased funding for new school places, but there are indications of real strain, with 256,000 new places still needed by 2014/15.HC: 1042, Session 2012-13
- Case study on integration: Measuring the costs and benefits of Whole-Place Community Budgets13 March 2013
By operating in a more integrated way, government could reduce inefficiencies in public services and deliver a better service to citizens. A case study on the Whole-Place Community Budget pilots points to the potential benefits on offer where public services are integrated more effectively.HC: 1040, 2012-2013
- Cabinet Office and HM Treasury – Integration across government13 March 2013
By operating in a more integrated way, government could reduce inefficiencies in public services and deliver a better service to citizens. HC: 1041, 2012-2013
- Memorandum on the provision of the out-of-hours GP service in Cornwall11 March 2013
A memorandum on the provision of out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall found whistleblowers played a significant role in highlighting concerns about the service.HC: 1016, 2012-2013
- Improving government procurement27 February 2013
The government’s procurement strategy has led to savings. But, a cultural shift is needed if government is to obtain all the benefits available.HC: 996, 2012-2013
- Tackling tax credits error and fraud14 February 2013
HMRC has improved its approach to tackling error and fraud in tax credits but still lost £2.3 billion in 2010-11.HC: 891, 2012-2013
- Responding to change in jobcentres13 February 2013
The jobcentre network has coped well in the economic downturn, but must improve performance measures if it is to support claimants effectively.HC: 955, 2012-2013
- The UK cyber security strategy: Landscape review12 February 2013
An NAO review of the Government’s strategy for cyber security indicates that, although at an early stage, activities are already beginning to deliver benefits.HC: 890, 2012-2013
- HM Revenue and Customs: Progress on reducing costs7 February 2013
In 2011-12 HMRC maintained its performance while reducing staff and spending but it is too early to tell what the long-term impact of cost reduction will be.HC: 889, 2012-2013
- Managing NHS hospital consultants6 February 2013
The 2003 contract for hospital consultants delivered many expected benefits, but there is room for improvement in how trusts manage their consultants.HC: 885, 2012-2013
- Ministry of Defence: Equipment plan 2012-202231 January 2013
The NAO has reported on the 2012-22 Equipment Plan of the Ministry of Defence.HC: 886, 2012-2013
- Early action: landscape review31 January 2013
Early action has the potential to improve outcomes and value for money, but evidence of its impact and cost-effectiveness is currently patchy.HC: 683, 2012-2013
- Financial sustainability of local authorities30 January 2013
The NAO examines central government's approach to the funding of local authorities as they deal with reduced funding without reducing services.HC: 888, 2012-2013
- The impact of government’s ICT savings initiatives23 January 2013
Government initiatives to reduce ICT spending are starting to work but the challenge will be to use ICT to reform public services and how government works.HC: 887, 2012-2013
- HM Treasury: Planning for economic infrastructure16 January 2013
The NAO has highlighted five risks to the value for money of some national infrastructure projects.HC: 595, 2012-2013
- Ministry of Defence – The Major Projects Report 201210 January 2013
There are signs MOD has begun to make trade-offs with cost, time and technical requirements. But some major projects still suffer cost rises and delay.HC: 684, 2012 - 2013
- Office of Fair Trading: regulating consumer credit19 December 2012
Regulation of the consumer credit market is providing benefits to consumers, but is not minimizing consumer harm from unscrupulous trading practices.HC: 685, 2012-2013
- HM Revenue & Customs: Customer service performance18 December 2012
Despite some welcome improvements, HMRC's performance in answering calls from the public is poor value for money.HC: 795, 2012-2013
- A commentary for the Committee of Public Accounts on the Work Programme outcome statistics13 December 2012
This commentary, on the first set of Work Programme data, has been produced for the Committee of Public Accounts.HC: 832, 2012-2013
- Progress in making NHS efficiency savings13 December 2012
The NHS made a substantial amount of efficiency savings in 2011-12. These will need to be sustained and built on if savings targets are to be met.HC: 686, 2012-2013
- Streamlining farm oversight12 December 2012
Farm oversight activity does not deliver value for money for the taxpayer and continues to burden compliant farmers unnecessarily.HC: 797, 2012-2013
- Lessons from cancelling the InterCity West Coast franchise competition7 December 2012
The competition to let this franchise lacked oversight. The full cost to the taxpayer is unknown, but likely to be significant.HC: 796, 2012-2013
- The London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games: post-Games review5 December 2012
The NAO has underlined the success of the 2012 Games and stressed the importance of building on that success to deliver legacy benefits.HC: 794, 2012-2013
- Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust29 November 2012
The Trust board’s poor financial management and procurement of an unaffordable PFI scheme have left the Trust in a critical financial position.HC: 658, 2012-2013
- Managing the expansion of the academies programme22 November 2012
The rapid expansion of the programme has been a significant achievement, but the DfE was unprepared for the scale of the financial implications.HC: 682, 2012-2013
- Tax avoidance: tackling marketed avoidance schemes21 November 2012
HMRC is making some headway in reducing opportunities for tax avoidance, but over 100 new schemes have been disclosed in each of the last four years.HC: 730, 2012-2013
- The franchising of Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust8 November 2012
The first private company awarded a franchise to run an NHS hospital has made improvements in some clinical areas, but big financial challenges remain.HC: 628, 2012-2013
- Managing risk reduction at Sellafield7 November 2012
There are significant uncertainties in plans for cleaning-up Sellafield. The Authority is working to understand and address project under-performance.HC: 630, 2012-2013
- Managing the impact of Housing Benefit reform1 November 2012
DWP is working to manage the introduction of the housing benefit reforms and has a critical role to play in anticipating adverse consequences.HC: 681, 2012-2013
- Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General: Whole of Government Accounts 2010-1131 October 2012
The Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) are an audited set of accounts showing in one place the financial position of the whole public sector. However, the NAO considers that the picture is incomplete.HC: 687, 2012-2013
- Funding for local transport: an overview25 October 2012
As the funding and provision of transport decentralises, this report gives an overview of the landscape and highlights issues and risks.HC: 629, 2012-2013
- Managing budgeting in government18 October 2012
The Government's ability to show that its spending decisions represent the best value for money is being hindered by the patchy availability of good information.HC: 597, 2012-2013
- DFID: The multilateral aid review19 September 2012
The 2011 DfID review of the £3.6bn spent through multilateral organisations (such as the UN) is a significant step towards achieving value for money.HC: 594, 2012-2013
- Restructuring of the National Offender Management Service18 September 2012
The Agency will find it more difficult to meet its savings targets now that some sentencing reforms designed to reduce the prison population have been dropped.HC: 593, 2012-2013
- Improving the delivery of animal health and welfare services through the Business Reform Programme18 July 2012
Defra should continue to fund the Agency to complete this programme to improve the management of animal disease and secure the full benefits of the new ICT.HC: 468, 2012-2013
- The UK Border Agency and Border Force: Progress in cutting costs and improving performance17 July 2012
Both organisations have achieved cost reduction and performance improvement, but poor planning and delayed delivery of projects hampered progress.HC: 467, 2012-2013
- Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: Financial management report12 July 2012
BIS needs more coherent planning, rather than short-term fire fighting, to meet its spending review challenges and deliver better value for money.HC: 507, 2012-2013
- Regulating defined contribution pension schemes11 July 2012
The Pensions Regulator and other agencies regulating defined contribution pension schemes should take a concerted approach towards collecting evidence and assessing risks to members.HC: 466, 2012-2013
- Securing the future financial sustainability of the NHS5 July 2012
The NHS delivered a £2.1bn surplus in 2011-12 but there is some financial distress in NHS trusts with some very large deficits.HC: 191, 2012-2013
- Financial viability of the social housing sector: introducing the Affordable Homes Programme4 July 2012
The Programme launch has been successful, however key risks remain such as the planned delivery of new homes towards the end of the programme period.HC: 465, 2012-2013
- Healthcare across the UK: A comparison of the NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland29 June 2012
The report finds variations in health outcomes across the four nations, and will help health departments examine how better value for money could be achieved.HC: 192, 2012-2013
- Managing the defence inventory28 June 2012
The MOD is buying more inventory than it uses and not consistently disposing of stock it no longer needs using money that could be spent elsewhere.HC: 190, 2012-2013
- Offshore electricity transmission: a new model for delivering infrastructure22 June 2012
Using competition to award companies licences to transmit electricity from offshore wind farms has benefits but consumers might end up bearing the cost of inflation.HC: 22, 2012-2013
- The effectiveness of internal audit in central government20 June 2012
Internal audit costs government around £70 million each year, but quality varies and it is poor value for money.HC: 23, 2012-2013
- Settling large tax disputes14 June 2012
Following review by a former tax judge, the NAO concludes that all five settlements were reasonable but there is concern over the settlement processes.HC: 188, 2012-2013
- Central government’s communication and engagement with local government13 June 2012
Central government needs to have better engagement with local government, particularly as more services are devolved.HC: 187, 2012-2013
- The management of adult diabetes services in the NHS23 May 2012
Diabetes care in the NHS is poor, with low achievement of treatment standards, high numbers of avoidable deaths and annual spending reaching an estimated £3.9 billion.HC: 21, 2012-2013
- The creation and sale of Northern Rock plc18 May 2012
The Treasury's 2009 decision to split Northern Rock in two was reasonable at the time but the final net cost to the taxpayer could be some £2 billion.HC: 20, 2012-2013
- Preventing fraud in contracted employment programmes16 May 2012
Reported fraud in Employment Programmes is low despite past flaws such as in the New Deal. New improvement controls are better, yet risks remain.HC: 90, 2012-2013
- The Regional Growth Fund11 May 2012
The £1.4 billion funding could result in 41,000 extra full-time equivalent private sector jobs but thousands more could have been created from the same resources.HC: 17, 2012-2013
- Assurance for major projects2 May 2012
Significant changes have been made to the assurance system for major projects but Government needs to do more as the system is not yet 'built to last'.HC: 1698, 2010-2012
- Financial management in the Home Office26 April 2012
The Home Office has improved the financial management of its core business but strengths at the centre are not being demonstrated in its 'change programmes'.HC: 1832, 2010-2012
- Implementing transparency18 April 2012
Better access to public information can improve accountability and service delivery. Government needs a firm grasp of whether that potential is being realised.HC: 1833, 2010-2012
- The completion and sale of High Speed 128 March 2012
The HS1 project has delivered a high performing line, which was subsequently sold in a well-managed way. But international passenger numbers are falling far short of forecasts and the project costs exceed the value of journey time saving benefits.HC: 1834, 2010-2012
- Immigration: The Points Based System – Student Route27 March 2012
This system was implemented by the UK Border Agency with predictable flaws. The Agency has taken little action to prevent and detect students overstaying or working in breach of their visa conditions.HC: 1827, 2010-2012
- The Government Procurement Card20 March 2012
Used appropriately, GPC can be a cost-effective way for government to procure goods and services. However, there is no up to date value-for-money case quantifying the benefits of the cards. There has also been a lack of clear central guidance on when the cards are the most appropriate way to procure goods and services.HC: 1828, 2010-2012
- Carbon capture and storage: lessons from the competition for the first UK demonstration16 March 2012
This competition was launched in 2007 with insufficient planning and recognition of the commercial risks and cancelled four years later. With commercial scale carbon capture and storage technology still to be developed, DECC must learn from the failure of this project.HC: 1829, 2010-2012
- Managing early departures in central government15 March 2012
Departments have acted quickly to reduce staff numbers and this should bring significant savings. To sustain these savings, and deliver long-term value for money improvements, staff numbers must stay at these reduced levels and departments must develop new ways of working.HC: 1795 2010-2012
- Efficiency and reform in government corporate functions through shared service centres7 March 2012
By creating complex shared services over-tailored to individual departments, government has increased costs rather than made savings.HC: 1790 2010-2012
- Improving the efficiency of central government office property2 March 2012
Departments have made good progress in improving the efficiency of their office estate. However, in order to achieve the best value for money, departments should stop managing their estates in isolation from one another.HC: 1826 2010-2012
- HMRC The compliance and enforcement programme1 March 2012
A major HMRC programme to improve the way it tackles evasion delivered £4.32 billion of additional tax yield, reduced staff numbers and improved compliance work. However the Department is not yet exploiting the full potential of its new systems.HC: 1588, 2010-2012
- Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission: cost reduction29 February 2012
Plans by CMEC to reduce its spending are based on uncertain estimates. There is a risk that additional cuts might be needed late on in the Spending Review which could have an adverse effect on services.HC: 1793, 2010-2012
- Equity investment in privately financed projects10 February 2012
Equity investors have helped to deliver many public sector infrastructure projects via the Private Finance Initiative and have managed them in ways from which the public sector can learn. Against a background of limited information, evidence gathered by the National Audit Office raises concern that the public sector is paying more than it should for equity investment.HC: 1792, 2010-2012
- Managing change in the Defence workforce9 February 2012
The Ministry of Defence, under pressure to make rapid financial savings, is significantly reducing the size of its workforce, by over 54,000 personnel. A report today by the National Audit Office has found that these reductions are happening in advance of the Department’s fully understanding how it will operate with significantly fewer staff.HC: 1791, 2010-2012
- Delivering the free entitlement to education for three- and four-year-olds3 February 2012
The Department for Education has made progress against many of its objectives in delivering the free entitlement to early education, but it must address variations in take-up, quality of provision and the impact on attainment in later years if it is to achieve value for money.HC: 1789, 2010-2012
- Cost reduction in central government: summary of progress2 February 2012
Government departments have been successful in cutting costs and managing within their reduced spending allocations for 2010-11. However, most departments will need to cut their spending by much more over the next four years. This will not be possible without making fundamental changes.HC: 1788, 2010-2012
- Adult apprenticeships1 February 2012
Apprenticeships for adults offer a good return for the public money spent on them overall. However, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills could improve value for money significantly by targeting resources on areas where the greatest economic returns can be achieved.HC: 1787, 2010-2012
- Mobile technology in policing27 January 2012
A programme to equip frontline police officers with mobile devices, such as BlackBerrys and personal data assistants, has achieved a basic level of benefits. However, as the benefits for most forces do not extend beyond this basic level, then value for money has not yet been achieved from the £80 million of expenditure.HC: 1765, 2010-2012
- HM Revenue and Customs Renewed Alcohol Strategy: A progress report25 January 2012
HMRC’s renewed strategy for dealing with alcohol duty fraud is a significant improvement on the previous strategy. However, the Department needs a reliable estimate of the tax gaps for beer and wine; and to tackle successfully the illicit diversion of duty-unpaid alcohol back into the UK market.HC: 1702, 2010-2012
- The introduction of the Work Programme24 January 2012
The Department for Work and Pensions has introduced the Work Programme quickly, in just over a year, and this has had benefits, but the speed with which it was launched has also increased risks. The Department and providers have made assumptions about how many people the Programme will get back into work but there is a significant risk that they are over-optimistic.HC: 1701, 2010-2012
- Reorganising central government bodies20 January 2012
Plans to reorganize central government will bring a range of functions closer to ministers, and the Cabinet Office and departments are on course to deliver cost reductions. However, departments do not have a good enough grasp of the one-off costs of the reorganisation or, secondly, of the ongoing costs of continuing to provide the transferred functions.HC: 1703, 2010-2012
- Implementing the Government ICT Strategy: six-month review of progress21 December 2011
The NAO commends the early progress being made by the Government in implementing its ICT Strategy but has identified areas where progress has not kept pace with the Government’s ambitions.HC: 1594, 2010-2012
- Services for people with neurological conditions16 December 2011
Since 2005, when the Department of Health introduced its National Service Framework for Long-term Conditions, people with neurological conditions have had better access to health services; but key indicators of quality have worsened. The Department does not know what the Framework and additional spending of nearly 40 per cent have achieved.HC: 1586, 2010-2012
- Reducing bureaucracy in further education in England16 December 2011
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Skills Funding Agency are pursuing a range of initiatives to simplify funding, qualification and assurance systems in further education. However, they do not know the scale of the problem faced by further education colleges and other providers.HC: 1590, 2010-2012
- Reducing costs in the Department for Transport14 December 2011
The Department for Transport started its preparations for the 2010 spending review early and took steps to improve and challenge the evidence on which it based its decisions with a view to securing value for money.HC: 1700, 2010-2012
- Digital Britain One: Shared infrastructure and services for government online9 December 2011
The Government has not in general measured the benefits delivered by its two central internet services Directgov and Business.gov, and the infrastructure service Government Gateway, which together cost some £90 million a year.HC: 1589, 2010-2012
- Preparations for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: Progress report December 20116 December 2011
The Olympic Delivery Authority remains on course to deliver its work on the Olympic Park successfully. But almost all of the Public Sector Funding Package is likely to be required, with little scope for unforeseen costs to emerge in the eight months left.HC: 1596, 2010-2012
- Core skills at HM Revenue and Customs2 December 2011
HM Revenue and Customs will have to make sure its staff have the right skills if the Department is to succeed in cutting its running costs by 25 per cent by 2014-2015 and bringing in each year an extra £7 billion of tax revenue.HC: 1595, 2010-2012
- The Care Quality Commission: Regulating the quality and safety of health and adult social care2 December 2011
The Care Quality Commission had a difficult task in establishing itself and has not so far achieved value for money in regulating the quality and safety of health and adult social care in England.HC: 1665, 2010-2012
- Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General: Whole of Government Accounts 2009-1029 November 2011
The Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) are the very first audited set of accounts showing in one place the financial position of the whole public sector. However, the NAO considers that the picture is incomplete.HC: 1601, 2010-2012
- Carrier Strike: Supplementary Report29 November 2011
The NAO has today issued a supplementary report on the Carrier Strike project, having been given access to briefing papers held by the National Security Secretariat in the Cabinet Office.HC: 1657, 2010-2012
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Financial Management Report 201125 November 2011
Despite the fact that the Defra has made improvements in its financial management, the NAO cannot yet conclude that the Department is achieving value for money in its financial management activity.HC: 1593, 2010-2012
- Ministry of Justice: Financial Management Report 201123 November 2011
Financial management at the Ministry of Justice has improved considerably since the National Audit Office last examined this subject in 2010. However, in some important areas, such as income collection, the Ministry still has a great deal to do.HC: 1591, 2010-2012
- Ministry of Defence: The Major Projects Report 201116 November 2011
Action taken by the Ministry of Defence to balance its overall budget in the short term following the Strategic Defence and Security Review has contributed to a near £500 million in-year cost increase in the 15 largest defence projects.HC: 1520, 2010-2012
- The expansion of online filing of tax returns11 November 2011
The programme to increase online filing of tax returns has made significant progress, but HMRC needs a better understanding of the benefits and costs to customers and how its online filing costs compare to those for paper returns.HC: 1457, 2010-2012
- DFID: Transferring Cash & Assets to the poor9 November 2011
DFID is successfully reaching particularly poor people with transfers, but needs to focus more on how cost-effectively they are delivered. HC: 1587, 2010-2012
- Oversight of special education for young people aged 16-254 November 2011
Course outcomes for young people aged 16-25 receiving special educational support are improving. However, a lack of understanding of the relationship between needs, costs and outcomes can lead to students not getting the right support, and risks compromising value for money.HC: 1585, 2010-2012
- Crown Prosecution Service: the introduction of the Streamlined Process2 November 2011
An initiative to cut the amount of paperwork in prosecution files can reduce the time burden on police forces. But there are wide differences between individual police forces in how far they are complying with the guidance and lack of awareness among police officers about what to include in prosecution files.HC: 1584, 2010-2012
- Flood Risk Management in England28 October 2011
Giving greater responsibility and discretion to local authorities to identify flood risk and target investment raises significant challenges, especially during a time of budget cuts and other newly devolved responsibilities. Greater value for money can be achieved through these reforms, but key elements of what is required are not yet in place.HC: 1521, 2010-2012
- Shared services in the Research Councils21 October 2011
The implementation of a project to create a centre to streamline back-office functions for the seven research councils has so far not been good value for money and there is a risk that the councils may not recover their investment.HC: 1459, 2010-2012
- Oversight of financial management in local authority maintained schools19 October 2011
Financial pressures are growing on local authority maintained schools and the capacity of local authorities to support financial management in schools is itself under pressure. The Department for Education needs a system for alerting it to problems requiring intervention.HC: 1517, 2010-2012
- Achievement of Foundation Trust status by NHS hospital trusts13 October 2011
Many NHS trusts need to tackle a range of financial, quality and governance issues if they are to meet the standards required of them to become self-governing foundation trusts by 2014. The Department of Health and the NHS will now have to decide how they will deal with those facing the most severe problems.HC: 1516, 2010-2012
- Oversight of user choice and provider competition in care markets15 September 2011
Shortcomings must be addressed if value for money is to be secured in the future for users of social care “personal budgets” once they are extended to all eligible users by April 2013.HC: 1458, 2010-2012
- Means Testing14 September 2011
It will be difficult for government departments to achieve value for money from means-tested benefits unless government understands the impacts of means testing, learns from past experience and improves coordination between different benefits.HC: 1464, 2010-2012
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Managing front line delivery costs22 July 2011
Defra needs good cost information to scrutinise and challenge its arm's length bodies, so that it can reduce costs with minimal disruption to frontline services.HC: 1279, 2010-2012
- Landscape review: Formula funding of local public services20 July 2011
The NAO has today published a review of three formula-based grants from central government to fund local public services.HC: 1290, 2010-2012
- Reducing Costs in HM Revenue & Customs19 July 2011
HMRC faces a significant challenge in securing a £1.6 billion reduction in running costs over the next four years, at the same time as increasing tax revenues, improving customer service and achieving reductions in welfare payments.HC: 1278, 2010-2012
- PaceSetter: HMRC’s programme to improve business operations15 July 2011
PaceSetter has led to productivity improvements and may have contributed to greater staff engagement. However, the extent to which overall efficiency has improved is not clear; and some key principles of process improvement are not yet being applied strategically across the entire organisation.HC: 1280, 2010-2012
- Identifying and meeting central government’s skills requirements13 July 2011
Despite major expenditure by central government departments,weaknesses in departmental strategies and governance arrangements have limited the effectiveness of skills development activities.HC: 1276, 2010-2012
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Geographic information strategy12 July 2011
DEFRA has delivered some value from the £39.3 million spent on its geographic information strategy and activities. However, a lack of financial information means that the NAO cannot determine that value for money has been achieved.HC: 1274, 2010-2012
- Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority: the payment of MPs’ expenses7 July 2011
IPSA’s scheme for MPs’ expenses is safeguarding public money but IPSA has not had enough regard to the effect of the scheme on MPs’ work.HC: 1273, 2010-2012
- Carrier Strike7 July 2011
Changes to the aircraft carrier project in the 2010 defence review will save £3.4 billion but leave the UK without carrier capability for nine years.HC: 1092, 2010-2012
- The failure of the FiReControl project1 July 2011
"This is yet another example of a Government IT project taking on a life of its own, absorbing ever-increasing resources without reaching its objectives. The rationale and benefits of a regional approach were unclear and badly communicated to locally accountable fire and rescue services who remained unconvinced. Essential checks and balances in the early stages of the project were ineffective. It was approved on the basis of unrealistic estimates of costs and under-appreciation of the complexity of the IT involved and the project was hurriedly implemented and poorly managed. Its legacy is the chain of expensive regional control centres whose future is uncertain."HC: 1272, 2010-2012
- Preparations for the roll-out of smart meters30 June 2011
There are major risks the Department of Energy and Climate Change must address to achieve value for money from its £11.3 billion national programme to install ‘smart’ electricity and gas meters in all homes and smaller non-domestic premises in Great Britain from 2014 to 2019.HC: 1091, 2010-2012
- Establishing social enterprises under the Right to Request Programme24 June 2011
This report highlights risks to value for money associated with the Department of Health's programme aimed at enabling its staff to take the lead in leaving the NHS to set up health social enterprises. These are independent bodies delivering services, previously provided in-house, under contract to PCTs.HC: 1088, 2010-2012
- Reducing costs in the Department for Work and Pensions23 June 2011
The Department for Work and Pensions will have to make rapid progress in reorganising the way it operates if it is to meet its target of cutting costs by £20 billion in four years while achieving substantial reform of the welfare system.HC: 1089, 2010-2012
- Protecting consumers – the system for enforcing consumer law15 June 2011
Unfair treatment of consumers, ranging from pressure selling to systematic scams by criminals, is costing billions of pounds each year – but the system for enforcing consumer law is not delivering value for money.HC: 1087, 2010-2012
- Transforming NHS ambulance services10 June 2011
The Department of Health has until recently been focusing on speed of response as a measure of performance of the ambulance service, rather than on clinical outcomes. The service achieves high levels of public satisfaction but there are wide variations in ambulance trusts’ efficiency. The system has not delivered the best value for money to date.HC: 1086, 2010-2012
- The mortgage rescue scheme25 May 2011
The Mortgage Rescue Scheme, launched in January 2009 by the Department for Communities and Local Government, achieved fewer than half of the rescues expected. The Department helped 2,600 households avoid repossession and homelessness at a cost of in excess of £240 million - but it originally expected to help 6,000 households for £205 million.HC: 1030, 2010-2012
- The cost-effective delivery of an armoured vehicle capability20 May 2011
The suspension and cancellation of a number of key armoured vehicle projects since the 1998 defence review has resulted in the Armed Forces facing a significant shortage in the principal armoured vehicles they require, until at least 2024-2025.HC: 1029, 2010-2012
- The National Programme for IT in the NHS: an update on the delivery of detailed care records systems18 May 2011
The rate at which electronic care records systems are being put in place across the NHS under the National Programme for IT is falling far below expectations and the core aim that every patient should have an electronic care record under the Programme will not now be achieved.HC: 888, 2010-2012
- Lessons from PFI and other projects28 April 2011
Lessons from the large body of experience of using PFI can be applied to improve other forms of procurement. Government should also do more to act as an ‘intelligent customer’ in the procurement and management of projects.HC: 920, 2010-2012
- Department for International Development – Financial Management Report6 April 2011
DFID has improved its core financial management and has an ambitious programme underway to improve its focus on value for money. But it cannot yet assess important aspects of the value for money of the aid it has delivered, at an aggregated level.HC: 820, 2010-2012
- Regulating Network Rail’s efficiency1 April 2011
Limitations in Network Rail’s cost information has hampered the ability of the Office of Rail Regulation to assess efficiency savings.HC: 828, 2010-2011
- MOD: The use of information to manage the logistics supply chain31 March 2011
The MOD supply chain is currently not value for money. It would be much more efficient if directed by a modern information system.HC: 827, 2010-2011
- Managing high value capital equipment in the NHS in England30 March 2011
Value for money is not being achieved across all trusts in the planning, procurement and use of high value equipment. There are significant variations across England in levels of activity and a lack of comparable information about performance and cost of machine use.HC: 822, 2010-2011
- Spending reduction in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office29 March 2011
The FCO did well in 2009-10 in quickly bringing its expenditure down to within its budget. However, measurement and evaluation were limited. The FCO's approach to cost reduction must now be fully strategic and sustainable. It will be vital to avoid damaging value for money through over-simplistic cuts.HC: 826, 2010-2011
- The Efficiency and Reform Group’s role in improving public sector value for money25 March 2011
The Group’s priorities are to improve government efficiency and reform public services. It is too soon to judge its success. This review details various challenges that the Group faces and is intended to provide an objective baseline against which its progress can be assessed.HC: 887, 2010-2011
- The Intercity East Coast passenger rail franchise24 March 2011
The Department for Transport protected the taxpayer and secured value for money in the termination of National Express’s InterCity East Coast franchise.HC: 824, 2010-2011
- Getting value for money from the education of 16 to 18 year olds23 March 2011
Achievements and participation of 16- to 18-year-olds in education have improved, but issues with performance management and accountability arrangements remain.HC: 823, 2010-2011
- Stewardship of the wholly-owned banks: buy-back of subordinated debt18 March 2011
Investors in taxpayer-owned banks were paid an excessive interest rate for risk actually being shouldered by taxpayers. The buy-back was therefore value for money.HC: 706, 2010-2011
- Immigration: the Points Based System – Work Routes15 March 2011
The Points Based System doesn’t deliver its full value for money potential, while poor data and monitoring hampers the removal of failed applicants.HC: 819, 2010-2011
- Managing staff costs in central government11 March 2011
Despite numbers of staff employed by central government falling slightly over the last decade, costs have increased by 10 per cent.HC: 818, 2010-2011
- Department for Culture, Media and Sport: Financial management10 March 2011
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has improved the maturity of its financial management in a number of areas, but the NAO has not been able to conclude that the Department is achieving value for money.HC: 821, 2010-11
- Regulating financial sustainability in higher education4 March 2011
The Higher Education Funding Council has taken a cost-efficient approach and has delivered value for money in the context in which it has operated to date. However, the sector is facing a period of transition to a very different financial environment.HC: 816, 2010-2011
- Progress in improving financial management in government3 March 2011
Despite good progress in improving the professional capability and capacity of government finance departments, good financial management is still not embedded in the civil service culture, and financial matters do not have sufficient influence over departments’ strategic decision making.HC: 487, 2010-11
- Management of the Typhoon Project2 March 2011
The cost of each Typhoon aircraft has risen by 75 per cent. While Typhoon performs some defence tasks now, it won’t take on all roles until 2018.HC: 755, 2010-11
- Managing the impact of changes in the value of the euro on EU funds18 February 2011
More could be done to manage the risk of a reduction in the value of EU funds to the UK in the event of a depreciation in the euro.HC: 759, 2010-11
- Information and Communications Technology in government. Landscape Review17 February 2011
This review looks at how government uses Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to deliver public services. The review, the purpose of which is to inform the debate about government's new use of ICT, gives an overview of existing uses, as well as initiatives and changes underway.HC: 757, 2010-2011
- Delivering regulatory reform17 February 2011
The Better Regulation Executive and government departments are not yet in a position to achieve value for money in their management of regulation. However, they have developed important elements of a structured approach to achieving sustainable reductions in regulatory costs and have delivered significant benefits.HC: 758, 2010-11
- Preparations for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: Progress report February 201116 February 2011
The preparations for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are going well overall and, despite time pressures, the Olympic Delivery Authority remains on course to deliver its construction programme.HC: 756, 2010-11
- The procurement of consumables by NHS acute and Foundation trusts2 February 2011
NHS hospitals often pay more than they need to when buying basic supplies. A combination of inadequate information and fragmented purchasing means that NHS hospitals’ procurement of consumables is poor value for money.HC: 705, 2010-2011
- Reducing losses in the benefits system caused by customers’ mistakes21 January 2011
DWP does not yet have enough evidence to demonstrate that its activities to reduce the cost of mistakes by customers have been value for money. Although mistakes are difficult to detect, correct and prevent, the scale of overpayments and underpayments demonstrates a clear need for improvement.HC: 704, 2010-2011
- HM Treasury: The Asset Protection Scheme21 December 2010
The Treasury’s Asset Protection Scheme to protect over £280 billion of Royal Bank of Scotland’s financial assets against losses had a beneficial impact on financial markets. But the Scheme has, so far, only been partially successful in encouraging lending to creditworthy borrowers on the scale originally envisaged.HC: 567, 2010-2011
- Management of NHS hospital productivity17 December 2010
Hospital productivity has fallen over the last ten years. There have been significant increases in funding and hospitals have used this to deliver against national priorities, but they need to provide more leadership, management and clinical engagement to optimise the use of additional resources and deliver value for money.HC: 491, 2010-2011
- Managing civil tax investigations17 December 2010
HMRC’s civil investigations directorates, which examine serious cases of suspected tax evasion, have generated increasing returns from their work, while reducing resources. However, there is scope for them to achieve more.HC: 677, 2010-2011
- Maintaining the financial stability of UK banks: Update on the support schemes15 December 2010
The scale of the support currently provided to UK banks has fallen from a peak of £955 billion to £512 billion, but the amount of cash currently borrowed by the Government to support banks has risen by £7 billion since December 2009. It is likely the taxpayer will be providing support for years to come.HC: 676, 2010-2011
- The youth justice system in England and Wales: Reducing offending by young people10 December 2010
Recent improvements to the youth justice system have contributed to reductions in recorded youth crime. However, young offenders who receive more serious community or custodial sentences remain as likely to reoffend as they were ten years ago when the youth justice system was brought in.HC: 663, 2010-2011
- The impact of the 2007-08 changes to public service pensions8 December 2010
Changes made in 2007-08 to public service pension schemes are on course to deliver savings and stabilise pension costs. However the value for money of the changes cannot be demonstrated in the absence of a strategic assessment of their long term impact on staff motivation and retention.HC: 662, 2010-2011
- Minimising the cost of administrative errors in the benefit system25 November 2010
DWP has not reduced the mistakes made by staff processing benefits. In 2009-10 it overpaid an estimated £1.1 billion and made underpayments of £500 million. However, the scale of the challenge facing the Department should not be underestimated.HC: 569, 2010-2011
- Procurement of the M25 private finance contract19 November 2010
The Highways Agency’s PFI contract to widen the M25 could have been better value for money. The slowness with which it was taken forward resulted in higher financing costs, and the Agency was slow to investigate a potentially cheaper alternative to widening.HC: 566, 2010-2011
- Delivering the Cancer Reform Strategy18 November 2010
Improvements and efficiencies have been made in key areas of cancer care since the Cancer Reform Strategy was published. However, a lack of high quality information on costs of cancer services and their outcomes inhibits substantial further improvements.HC: 568, 2010-2011
- Ofcom: The effectiveness of converged regulation10 November 2010
Ofcom has saved some £23 million over the last five years. However, with its complex remit across the telecommunications sector, Ofcom needs a better articulation of the intended outcomes of its activities and how its work achieves those outcomes.HC: 490, 2010-2011
- Central government’s use of consultants and interims14 October 2010
The amount of money being spent by government on external consultants has fallen slightly since 2006-07. However, government is not getting value for money from its use of consultants because it often lacks the information, skills and strategies to manage them effectively.HC: 488, 2010-2011
- HM Revenue & Customs: Engaging with tax agents13 October 2010
HMRC might be able to increase tax revenues by providing more support to professional tax agents, third parties paid by taxpayers to act on their behalf in their dealings with the Department.HC: 486, 2010-2011
- Department for Education: The Academies Programme10 September 2010
Many academies are performing impressively in delivering the Academies Programme's intended improvements. Most academies are achieving greater rates of improvement in academic attainment than their predecessor schools.HC: 288, 2010-2011
- Cafcass’s response to increased demand for its services28 July 2010
Although Cafcass could not have predicted the sustained increase in care cases from November 2008, it could have responded more quickly and cost effectively to the large and sustained increase in care cases from local authorities.HC: 289, 2010-2011
- Financing PFI projects in the credit crisis and the Treasury’s response27 July 2010
By setting up an Infrastructure Financing Unit, Treasury helped reactivate the lending market for private finance projects. While the costs for projects in 2009 represented value for money, Treasury should not presume that continuing the use of private finance at current rates will be value for money.HC: 287, 2010-2011
- Reducing the cost of procuring Fire and Rescue Service vehicles and specialist equipment23 July 2010
Firebuy, established by the Department for Communities and Local Government to support procurement of kit by Fire and Rescue Services, has cost nearly twice as much to set up and run as the total savings it claims to have delivered.HC: 285, 2010-2011
- The Community Care Grant22 July 2010
The Community Care Grant has an important role in helping vulnerable people to establish themselves in the community and in easing pressure on families. The scheme is designed to be flexible so that it can provide help in good time to those who need it but the scheme as currently designed does not deliver value for money.HC: 286, 2010-2011
- Strategic Financial Management of the Defence Budget21 July 2010
The Ministry of Defence does not place sufficient emphasis on financial management in its decision making. Annual financial plans at the MOD have been over-committed. During 2009-10 the Department had to find additional savings of £800 million to bring its planned expenditure back into line with its budgets.HC: 290, 2010-2011
- Progress with VFM savings and lessons for cost reduction programmes20 July 2010
This report looks at how much the Treasury’s Value for Money savings programme has improved value for money across government. The programme aims to achieve government-wide annual savings of £35 billion from 2008-09 to 2010-11.HC: 291, 2010-2011
- Taking the measure of government performance14 July 2010
In its final review of the quality of the data systems used by departments to measure progress against PSAs, the NAO underlines the vital importance of measuring government performance.HC: 284, 2010-2011
- Ministry of Defence: A defence estate of the right size to meet operational needs9 July 2010
The MOD, one of the largest landowners in the UK, has strengthened its estate planning and achieved significant receipts from disposal of property. However, the changes are not yet sufficient to drive value for money for the taxpayer rigorously.HC: 70, 2010-2011
- Tackling diffuse water pollution in England8 July 2010
The Environment Agency’s approach to tackling diffuse water pollution, such as run-off from agricultural land, has not, to date, proved value for money. The development of River Basin Management Plans now offers an opportunity to target work by the Agency and others to tackle this complex problem.HC: 188, 2010-2011
- Ministry of Justice Financial Management Report6 July 2010
The Ministry of Justice has made progress in improving its financial management, but currently falls short of best practice in the consistency of its financial management approach, its understanding of its costs and the integration of its financial management systems and processes.HC: 187, 2010-2011
- Tackling inequalities in life expectancy in areas with the worst health and deprivation2 July 2010
The Department of Health has made a serious attempt to tackle health inequalities across England. But, having set a target in 2000 to reduce health inequalities, it was slow to take action and health inequalities were not a top priority for the NHS until 2006.HC: 186, 2010-2011
- Assessing the impact of proposed new policies1 July 2010
Impact Assessments, used to assess the need for and the likely impact of proposed government policy interventions, do not yet consistently provide a sound basis for assessing the merits of different policy proposals. Further improvement in the quality and use of Impact Assessments is needed to achieve value for money. HC: 185, 2010-2011
- HMRC: The efficiency of National Insurance administration30 June 2010
HMRC has taken significant steps to improve the efficiency of National Insurance administration, but needs to demonstrate more clearly that it is providing value for money from the £350 million it spends each year and take advantage of opportunities to secure further savings.HC: 184, 2010-2011
- PFI in housing25 June 2010
The use of PFI by local authorities to improve housing, usually in areas with a high need for housing and where stock condition is particularly poor, has had a measure of success. However, risks to value for money of the programme have not been managed.HC: 71, 2010-2011
- DFID: Bilateral Support to Primary Education18 June 2010
DFID has successfully supported developing countries in progress against goals of universal enrolment in primary education and improved educational prospects for girls. However, more emphasis on quality and cost-effectiveness is important.HC: 69, 2010-2011
- The performance and management of hospital PFI contracts17 June 2010
Most PFI hospital contracts are well-managed and the evidence indicates that they are currently achieving the value for money expected when the contracts were signed. There continue to be risks, however, to the long-term value for money of these contracts.HC: 68, 2010-2011
- Financial management in the European Union11 June 2010
There has been a detectable improvement over recent years in the financial management of European funds across the European Union. However, there remain seemingly intractable problems with reducing the high levels of error in some significant areas of EU spending.HC: 34, 2010-2011
- Government funding for developing renewable energy technologies10 June 2010
Government funding for renewable energy technologies has delivered innovation and increased supply. However, co-ordination has historically been limited and the absence of a consistent approach to measuring the impact of this support means overall value for money cannot be demonstrated.HC: 35, 2010-2011
- Increasing passenger rail capacity4 June 2010
With projected demand falling and costs of carriages rising, there are risks to value for money from plans to increase capacity on the rail network.HC: 33, 2010-2011
- Support to incapacity benefits claimants through Pathways to Work27 May 2010
A Department for Work and Pensions programme to reduce the number of people claiming incapacity benefits and help them into work has had a limited impact and, while a serious attempt to tackle an intractable issue, has turned out to provide poor value for money.HC: 21, 2010-2011
- Increasing participation in sport26 May 2010
Although more people have been involved in sport since 2005, the Department did not meet its targets to increase participation by priority groups by March 2008. However, a new strategy and better funding arrangements are positive developments that offer the prospect of improved value for money.HC: 22, 2010-2011
- Defra’s organic agri-environment scheme31 March 2010
HC: 513, 2009-10
"Defra should learn from this scheme and get a lot better at putting credible measurement arrangements in place to demonstrate whether public funds are being used properly. It appears likely that Defra’s scheme helped to deliver environmental benefits by encouraging organic farming, but we can’t draw a similar conclusion on the land management measures and I would have expected a greater environmental benefit for the taxpayer’s funding contribution."
- Regenerating the English Regions: Regional Development Agencies’ support to physical regeneration projects30 March 2010
HC: 214, 2009-10
"The Regional Development Agencies' efforts to encourage economic growth through a programme of physical regeneration have delivered real benefits. It is questionable, however, whether they could not have achieved even greater benefits from the £5 billion they have committed. It is important that the RDAs establish better appraisal and evaluation methods to identify the projects which are most beneficial and then target their funding accordingly.”
- Ministry of Defence: Delivering multi-role tanker aircraft capability30 March 2010
HC: 433, 2009-10
"Shortcomings in the early stages of the project put the MOD in a position where the operational pressures of an aging fleet and the need to maintain the vital air bridge restricted its ability to deliver a solution which achieved value for money.
"Despite taking five years longer than planned to sign a contract, the MOD's progress in delivering the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft project has improved since contract signature, and the project is meeting its delivery milestones. But there is more work for the MOD and its suppliers to do to get the best out of the deal."
- Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: Support to business during a recession26 March 2010
HC: 490, 2009-10
"Once the downturn was apparent, the Government and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills were under considerable pressure to act quickly and offer targeted support to businesses. The Department did well to balance the needs of businesses with protecting the taxpayer. However, it did not set out clear objectives, nor did it consistently record costs.
In the current fragile economic climate, the Department should consider the potential impact on business confidence as support begins to be withdrawn. In particular, it should consider action that could be taken to reduce any adverse effects and, if recovery falters, the circumstances in which support might be extended."
- Audit of Assumptions for Budget 201024 March 2010
HC: 434, 2009-2010
HC: 434, 2009-2010
- Home Office: Management of Major Projects23 March 2010
HC: 489, 2009-10
"It is good to see the Home Office taking a joined up, thoughtful approach to improving its management of major projects. Taken together with the significantly improved financial control and reporting of performance, the Department is building capability in key areas."
- The Customer First Programme: Delivery of student finance19 March 2010
HC: 296, 2009-10
“The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Student Loans Company underestimated, and therefore did not do enough to mitigate, the significant risks in integrating the student finance service previously carried out by 130 separate local authorities. Both bodies failed to grasp the magnitude of problems that were developing in 2009 as applications for loans, grants and allowances piled up and applicants struggled to contact the Company by telephone. In particular, students with disabilities were supported badly.
“The question must be asked how the Company, given its failure in 2009, will deal with twice as many applications in 2010, when it becomes responsible for applications from both first and second year students. The Department and the Company must give the highest priority to achieving a radical improvement in the service and, in so doing, to restoring the confidence of applicants and stakeholders. They will have to manage substantial risks.”
- Reorganising central government18 March 2010
"With 90 reorganisations in four years, UK central government machinery is in a constant state of change. At approximately £200 million per annum, the costs are far from negligible and the reorganisations inevitably involve disruption and loss of service.
We believe a more deliberate and carefully planned process makes sense before such costs are incurred and would also like to see a slow down in the rate of change."HC: 452, 2009-10
- The cost of public service pensions12 March 2010
HC: 432, 2009-10
"My report today sets out clearly the facts surrounding current cash payments from the public service pay-as-you-go pension schemes and the basis for future projections of these payments. The Treasury has performed some analysis on the sensitivity of its projections to changing assumptions, but has not considered the potentially significant effects of changes in the size of the public service workforce.
"Later this year I intend to report to Parliament on recent changes to the schemes, which are designed partly to reduce costs."
- Managing offenders on short custodial sentences9 March 2010
HC: 431, 2009-10
"NOMS is successfully keeping the vast majority of short-sentenced prisoners safe and well - a notable achievement in a time of prison overcrowding - and in this respect it is delivering value.
"Achieving NOMS' goal of reducing re-offending by short-sentenced prisoners is challenging both because there are so many prisoners and because of the few weeks they have in custody. However, it is reasonable to expect progress towards that goal. More coherent plans for prisoners, tailored to reducing their risk of re-offending would be a good first step. As they take their new strategy forward, NOMS and the Ministry have the opportunity to put the management of short-sentenced prisoners on a better footing."
- DEFRA: Reducing the impact of business waste through the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste Programme5 March 2010
HC: 216, 2009-10
"There are indications that the Programme has delivered some positive results: participating businesses have reported benefits, and there should be further long term gains in terms of reductions in business waste. However, the low awareness of the Programme among businesses and the absence of clear targets and reliable information to measure progress mean we cannot say whether the Department achieved value for money from the £240 million spent on the Programme."
- Tackling problem drug use3 March 2010
HC: 297, 2009-10
"Reduction in harm caused by problem drug use presents a complex and chronic challenge. This is being addressed by a series of strategies and programmes and very substantial resources: £1.2 billion a year. It is achieving improved results but we need to learn from experience as we go forward and measure effectiveness and value for money in order to make appropriate adjustments to programmes. So overall performance measurement across the range of programmes needs to be put in place."
- Preparations for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: Progress report February 201026 February 2010
HC: 298, 2009-10
"The Olympic Delivery Authority has done well to keep its programme on track, and it is increasingly likely that the venues and infrastructure are going to be delivered on time and budget. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go, with less contingency funding available to meet unforeseen cost pressures.
"Plans for the delivery of the Games themselves need to be fleshed out, in particular making sure that LOCOG is on track at least to break even. In addition, securing long-term use of facilities such as the Media Centre and the Main Stadium should remain a priority to get the best out of the Games both for the taxpayer and local people."
- Adapting the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s global estate to the modern world11 February 2010
HC: 295, 2009-10
"The FCO can do more to get value for money from its overseas estate. Although the Department has begun to remedy some of the shortcomings we identified and has started work on its strategy for managing the estate, it still needs to get the basics right. It needs to lay out the priorities for its overseas estate and work out how to get more robust information. Whilst there are examples of good practice at individual posts, the Department needs to spread this across the whole estate if it is to make real efficiencies."
- Ministry of Defence: Treating injury and illness arising on military operations10 February 2010
HC: 294, 2009-10
"The good news is that my report has found that treatment for seriously injured personnel is highly effective. Alongside this positive finding, we point out the need to continue to improve contingency planning for facilities in the UK in the context of a longer term conflict, and the importance of increased efforts to prevent disruption due to rising levels of short term illness."
- Major trauma care in England5 February 2010
HC: 213, 2009-10
"Current services for people who suffer major trauma are not good enough. There is unacceptable variation, which means that if you are unlucky enough to have an accident at night or at the weekend, in many areas you are likely to receive worse quality of care and are more likely to die. The Department of Health and the NHS must get a grip on coordinating services through trauma networks, on costs and on information on major trauma care, if they are to prevent unnecessary deaths."
- Department for Work and Pensions Pension Protection Fund5 February 2010
HC: 293, 2009-10
"The Pension Protection Fund has done well to retain a healthy balance sheet in trying economic times. However, it is likely that the challenge facing the Fund will increase as more schemes are transferred to it. Therefore it should continue to take appropriate steps to manage the increasing value of its assets efficiently and continue to work at improving its ability to assess the risks that it faces in periods of economic difficulty."
- Business, Innovation and Skills: Helping over-indebted consumers4 February 2010
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ (BIS’s) free face-to-face advice for people struggling with debt has helped more people than planned, at slightly less than the planned cost per person, and is highly regarded by those that use it. However, demand is now outstripping capacity.HC: 292, 2009-10
- Department of Health: Progress in improving stroke care3 February 2010
HC: 291, 2009-10
"Care for people who have had a stroke has significantly improved since we reported in 2005. The publication and early implementation of the stroke strategy have begun to make a real difference and have helped to put in place the right mechanisms to bring about these improvements. There is still work to be done though: the poorer performers must be dragged up to the same standard as the best, so that the gains that have been made are sustained and value for money improved further. The Department should focus on ensuring that health, social care and employment services are working together much more effectively."
- The sale of the Government’s interest in British Energy22 January 2010
HC: 215, 2009-10
"The Government sold its stake in British Energy when energy prices were at a peak, and got a good price. The biggest priority for the Government was, however, to ensure new nuclear power stations could be built from the earliest possible date and with no public subsidy. Whether it will achieve this remains to be seen. The Department of Energy and Climate Change now needs to make real progress on its contingency plans should EDF be unwilling to build new nuclear power stations."
- The Decent Homes Programme21 January 2010
HC: 212, 2009-10
"The Programme to make social sector housing and private sector housing for vulnerable people decent has made progress, and the families living in those properties will be enjoying the benefits. However, there are risks to both the Programme’s completion and what has been achieved so far if a reliable funding mechanism is not put in place to deliver the remainder of the Programme and to maintain homes to a decent standard. Hundreds of thousands of families are still living in properties which are not warm, weather tight, or in a reasonable state of repair. The Department’s efforts have been undermined by weaknesses in the information it holds.
There are important lessons here on the benefits of having clear information on Programmes when delivery is devolved to a local level."
- HM Revenue and Customs: Handling telephone enquiries15 January 2010
HC: 211, 2009-10
"HMRC seems to be going in the right direction seeking strategic savings by reducing face to face interaction where the job can be done by telephone or online. However, this may not be much comfort if yours was one of the 43 per cent of calls which did not get an answer in 2008-09. HMRC needs to get telephone service standards up significantly if the transition to technology-enabled working is to have taxpayer support and deliver value for money."
- Improving dementia services in England – an interim report14 January 2010
"The Department of Health stated in October 2007 that dementia was a national priority and brought forward a widely supported strategy in February 2009 to transform the lives of people with dementia. The action however, has not so far matched the rhetoric in terms of urgency. At the moment this strategy lacks the mechanisms needed to bring about large scale improvements and without these mechanisms it is unlikely that the intended and much needed transformation of services will be delivered within the strategy’s five year timeframe"HC: 82, 2009-10
- Vehicle and Operator Services Agency: Enforcement of regulations on commercial vehicles8 January 2010
HC: 210, 2009-10
"It is reassuring that the number of commercial vehicles involved in road accidents is decreasing and that VOSA is removing more dangerous drivers and vehicles from the road, but my report raises a number of issues which will concern those who use Britain’s roads.
“VOSA needs to focus its resources on those activities and areas where it can have most impact: for example, by looking at where its staff and stopping sites are located around the country. It needs to help to educate commercial drivers and properly identify those vehicles which pose the greatest danger. It also needs to work with other organizations, at home and abroad, to ensure that drivers and vehicles from outside the UK are as safe as those from within the UK."
- Regenerating the English Coalfields17 December 2009
HC: 84, 2009-10
"The coalfields regeneration programme has achieved positive results in job generation and improved environments. However, the programme has taken much longer than expected to deliver results and needs to be much better planned. What we want to see is a concerted effort to deliver to the coalfields the best possible value for money from the remaining £450 million of funds."
- Independent Reviews of reported CSR07 Value for Money savings16 December 2009
HC: 86, 2009-10
"It is worrying, when the money has already been removed from their budgets, that a significant proportion of the savings claimed by the Department for Transport and the Home Office have question marks hanging over them. A failure to deliver these savings may mean cuts having to be made elsewhere.
"Both the Department for Transport and the Home Office have had some success in reducing costs so far, but more generally all departments must now take a more rigorous approach towards ensuring large-scale, genuine savings are made."
- Ministry of Defence: Major Projects Report 200915 December 2009
HC: 85, 2009-10
"The Ministry of Defence has a multi-billion pound budgetary black hole which it is trying to fix with a 'save now, pay later' approach. This gives a misleadingly negative picture of how well some major projects in MOD are managed, represents poor value for money and heightens the risk that the equipment our Armed Forces require will not be available when it is needed or in the quantities promised. Bold action will be required to prioritise defence spending as part of the planned Strategic Defence Review after the General Election."
- Venture capital support to small businesses10 December 2009
HC: 23, 2009-10
"These venture capital funds help small, often innovative, businesses that otherwise may have struggled. And there is evidence that some businesses have benefited from this support. But, in the absence of clear objectives and baselines from the start, coupled with poor financial performance to date of early funds, the Department’s programme cannot currently be said to demonstrate value for money. Finally, there is no information publicly available about the funds. BIS should be more transparent, without compromising confidentiality."
- Audit of Assumptions for the 2009 Pre-Budget Report9 December 2009HC: 83, 2009-2010
- Maintaining financial stability across the United Kingdom’s banking system4 December 2009
HC: 91, 2009-10
"It is difficult to imagine the scale of the consequences for the economy and society if major banks had been allowed to collapse. The Treasury was justified in using taxpayers’ money to safeguard savings and stabilise and restore confidence in the financial system.
"But the big question is what all of this will eventually cost the taxpayer. This will take time to answer. What we do know is that how the eventual sale of RBS and Lloyds is managed will be crucial to protecting the public interest. The structure of the UK banking system has changed beyond recognition. When it comes to selling its stakes in the banks, the government has to be mindful of the proceeds for the taxpayer but also of the implications for competition in the UK market, so that customers get a fair deal.
"As the crisis begins to subside, lessons must start to be learned. The authorities need to put formal arrangements in place to evaluate the effectiveness of the support provided to banks in order to inform future policy makers."
- HM Revenue & Customs’ estate private finance deal eight years on3 December 2009
HC: 30, 2009-10
"This major contract has been significantly affected, for the contractor Mapeley in particular, by the current economic climate. Mapeley benefited when the property market was expanding but the economic downturn has made the contract more onerous. HMRC must take a significantly more astute commercial approach if it is to deliver value for money for the taxpayer."
- The Procurement of Criminal Legal Aid in England and Wales by the Legal Services Commission27 November 2009
HC: 29, 2009-10
"Last year the Legal Services Commission spent over £1 billion on criminal legal aid. With such a considerable sum of money involved, it is very important that the Commission understands the market from which it is buying and the cost effectiveness of its own practices, but at present, that is not the case. It needs to address this as a priority to make sure that it is paying a fair price for legal aid services that both sustains a competitive supplier base and provides value for money."
- Department of Health – Young people’s sexual health: the National Chlamydia Screening Programme12 November 2009
HC: 963, 2008-09
"To have a significant impact on chlamydia requires overall testing levels of 26 per cent or above. Only half of Primary Care Trusts reached this level in 2008-09, six years after the Programme’s launch. Combined with the local inefficiencies and duplications, this shows that the delivery of the Programme to date has not demonstrated value for money."
- Commercial skills for complex government projects6 November 2009
HC: 962, 2008-09
"Commercial skills are essential to success in complex projects and a great deal of money rests on this; but there is still not a coherent system for providing skills across government or for using the existing skills as efficiently as possible."
- Department for International Development: Aid to Malawi30 October 2009
HC: 964, 2008-09
"DFID has contributed to poverty reduction in Malawi. Its programmes, however, are not all meeting their objectives. DFID needs better information on service outputs from the areas it funds to help improve performance and provide assurance on value for money."
- HM Revenue & Customs: Dealing with the tax obligations of older people23 October 2009
HC: 961, 2008-09
"Older people want to pay the right amount of tax but too many pay more than they need to because they do not claim allowances to which they are entitled and because of errors. By providing a more coherent service, HMRC could make substantial savings as the number of enquiries from older people about their tax affairs would reduce. A win-win situation for all."
- Complying with regulation – business perceptions survey 200922 October 2009
HC: 1028, 2008-09
"There is always a difference between perception and reality but our testing shows that almost no businesses think that complying with regulation has become easier or less time consuming in the last year. The majority think that things have remained the same and over a third think that the burden of regulation has got worse. On the other hand, 42 per cent of businesses think that government is getting the right balance of regulation to protect people and the environment."
- Measuring Up: How good are the Government’s data systems for monitoring performance against Public Service Agreements? Fifth Validation Compendium Report reviewing data systems underpinning 2008-11 Public Service Agreements21 October 2009
HC: 465, 2008-09
Interim findings and findings by Public Service Agreement
"For any organisation, monitoring and measuring performance are fundamental to improving the management of resources and the delivery of services. So the slow progress being made by some government departments in achieving better quality information about their own performance is a matter for concern. The NAO has found that some one third of the PSA data systems used by departments have weaknesses and just over a tenth remain unsatisfactory.
"Departments now have the benefit of lessons from a decade or more of outcome-oriented performance management. The Treasury has issued good guidance reflecting that experience: it now needs to enforce its application."
- Highways Agency: Contracting for Highways Maintenance16 October 2009
HC: 959, 2008-09
"The latest form of Highways Agency contracts for maintaining motorways and trunk roads provide visibility of costs and the ability to allocate risk appropriately. But, as is so often the case, a lack of probing analysis of the information which is available, and continuing gaps in some areas undermine the drive to maximize value for money. The Agency has not yet established and benchmarked the unit costs of planned maintenance tasks, such as resurfacing; and it does not have enough of the information on or analysis of the continuing condition of assets necessary to drive down whole life costs of planned maintenance projects. The Highways Agency also now needs to strengthen the engineering and commercial management skills of its area teams."
- Government cash management16 October 2009
HC: 546, 2008-09
"In the light of the current fiscal position, good cash flow management is more important than ever. Departments and the Treasury are working to improve performance, but central government as a whole is not maximising value for money in the way it manages its cash.
"More money needs to be kept in the Exchequer by departments and sponsored bodies, and forecasts of cash flows should be improved. Where organisations do need to use commercial bank accounts, they should use shared knowledge to negotiate arrangements which give the best possible deal for the taxpayer."
- A second progress update on the administration of the Single Payment Scheme by the Rural Payments Agency15 October 2009
HC: 880, 2008-09
"This is the third time we have looked at the Single Payment Scheme and there are still significant issues to be resolved. There has been a serious lack of attention to the protection of taxpayers’ interests over the administration of the scheme. There has been a lack of senior management ownership of the scheme in the Agency and DEFRA, even though the risks were previously highlighted by the Committee of Public Accounts.
"Previous assurances on overall progress in recovering overpayments from farmers proved optimistic and reflect a lack of reliable information on actual progress. DEFRA should urgently address the risks to ongoing IT system support and the inaccuracy of the scheme’s data, explore alternative payment systems and resolve the ongoing management issues."
- Promoting Participation with the Historic Environment22 July 2009
HC: 881 2008-2009
"The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has met one but missed two of its targets to increase the number of people from underrepresented groups who visit heritage sites in England. While the targets were challenging, they should have been underpinned by a performance framework that more clearly matched the priorities and activities of English Heritage with the Department’s strategic objectives. The Department needs to review its performance management practices to ensure that the bodies it funds are working with it towards shared objectives."
- Train to Gain: Developing the skills of the workforce21 July 2009
HC: 879 2008-2009
"Train to Gain is achieving growth in training that employers value, but taxpayers have a right to expect that much more than half of the public funding should result in training that would not otherwise have occurred. Inconsistent management contributed to a slow start to the programme, followed by rapid growth and now the risk of demand exceeding budgets. We also need to see evidence that money is directed more to areas of greatest need, with training providers who do the best job for their learners and on bringing the whole range of business benefits to employers."
- Financial Management in the Department for Communities and Local Government16 July 2009
"The Department for Communities and Local Government spends some £34 billion a year and so good financial management is very important, not just to accountants but also to taxpayers and public service users.
"The Department rightly takes financial management seriously and is making improvements. However, it has more to do. As a priority, it must identify and understand the gaps in its financial and business management skills and set about filling them."HC: 293 2008-2009
- Review of errors in Guaranteed Minimum Pension payments16 July 2009
HC: 878 2008-2009
“This is a sad case of public administration failure. Warnings were first sounded years ago that there were problems but no one took responsibility for resolving them. It is essential to prevent errors on this scale from happening again, but this will happen only if one party takes responsibility for the process as a whole.”
- Services for people with rheumatoid arthritis15 July 2009
HC: 823 2008-2009
"Patients with this debilitating and distressing disease are not identified or treated quickly enough and this dramatically affects long-term outcomes and people’s ability to remain in work. The NHS should take a more co ordinated approach to identifying people with symptoms of early rheumatoid arthritis, so that they get access to specialist care quickly and receive support and advice to help them manage and live with the disease. This would provide better value for money, better outcomes for patients, and lead to productivity gains for the economy. Some of the systemic improvements needed to manage and control this disease also apply to other long-term conditions requiring specialist-led care."
- Partnering for school improvement9 July 2009
HC: 822 2008-2009
“It is clear from teachers' responses that partnering delivers motivational benefits and plays naturally to their style of collaborative working and problem-sharing. With a somewhat more demanding assessment of costs against the benefits achieved, these valuable relationships could deliver significantly more demonstrable benefits than they do now.”
- Reducing Healthcare Associated Infections in Hospitals in England12 June 2009
“The Department of Health’s hands on approach to what seemed, in 2004, to be an intractable problem, has been successful in reducing MRSA bloodstream and C. difficile infections. This is a significant achievement and a good example of what concerted effort can achieve. Inevitably, with a focused and centrally driven initiative of this kind, the improvements are not uniform across the NHS and we still don't know in any meaningful way what impact there has been on other healthcare associated infections. We have identified a number of key problems that need to be addressed such as: a lack of robust comparable data on other infection risks; increases in antibiotic resistance and poor data on hospital prescribing; and that compliance with good practice is still not universal.”
- The Department for Transport: The failure of Metronet5 June 2009
HC: 512 2008-2009
"The Metronet PPP contracts to upgrade the Tube left the DfT without effective means of protecting the taxpayer. Metronet’s failure led to a direct loss to the taxpayer of between £170 million and £410 million. The DfT’s work with the Mayor of London, TfL and London Underground on a long term solution will need to improve governance and risk management in the new arrangements they are intending to put in place to protect the taxpayer."
- BERR’s oversight of the Post Office Network Change Programme5 June 2009
HC: 558 2008-2009
“The network change programme has been implemented in a way which has met most of its targets and the closures are nearly complete with 98 per cent already done. But communication around the programme could have been better, and there is still work to do to complete the late running Outreach services, which are designed to provide facilities to communities where conventional post offices have been closed."
1. In May 2007 the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform approved plans to close up to 2,500 post offices run by sub-postmasters, partly offset by at least 500 new Outreach services, leaving a network of around 12,000 outlets. The closures are known as the Network Change Programme, which is part of a larger plan aimed at returning Post Office Ltd to profitability by 2010-11, after allowing for a £150 million annual Government subsidy. This plan also includes action to improve efficiency and Post Office Ltd’s financial performance, and to sustain revenues, in part by developing significant new revenue streams. The plan is being supported by funding of up to £1.7 billion over five years from BERR, including the £150 million annual subsidy payment in recognition of the social and economic role that post offices play.
2. Press notices and reports are available from the date of publication on the NAO website, which is at www.nao.org.uk. Hard copies can be obtained from The Stationery Office on 0845 702 3474.
3. The Comptroller and Auditor General is the head of the National Audit Office which employs some 900 staff. He and the NAO are totally independent of Government. He certifies the accounts of all Government departments and a wide range of other public sector bodies; and he has statutory authority to report to Parliament on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which departments and other bodies have used their resources. This report has been made by Tim Burr, who was Comptroller & Auditor General until 31 May 2009. He was succeeded by Amyas Morse on 1 June 2009.
- Supporting people with autism through adulthood5 June 2009
HC: 556 2008-2009
"Greater awareness of the numbers of people with autism, as well as better understanding of autism amongst those providing health, social care, benefits, education and employment services, would lead to improved quality of life for those on the autistic spectrum. Specialist support and joint working across all areas – clinical, social and employment – could improve the transition from childhood to adult services, make services more effective and improve value for money."
- Financial Management in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office3 June 2009
"The FCO has made a concerted effort to improve its financial management in what is a difficult operating environment. It has strong leadership and a determination to drive its financial management forward, and it is working to increase the proportion of staff in its finance function who are qualified accountants. In managing within increasingly constrained resources, the Department will need to use the capability created through its “Five Star Finance” project to utilise available resources to best effect".HC: 289 2008-2009
- Northern Ireland Policing Board: Continuous Improvement Arrangements 2008-20093 June 2009HC: 577 2008-2009
- Financial Management in the Home Office22 May 2009
"The Home Office has made considerable progress in strengthening its financial management which, after the problems experienced in recent years, was much needed. It still needs to establish clearer links between the use of resources and service delivery outcomes. Similarly, the Home Office has to improve individual project oversight and management of its broader capital programme so that it can identify funds which are no longer needed, then release them to be deployed elsewhere."HC: 299 2008-2009
- National Offender Management Service: Maintenance of the prison estate in England and Wales21 May 2009
HC: 300 2008-2009
“NOMS is maintaining the prison estate well and is obtaining value for money in how it does so. But there are areas to improve: the Agency needs a better understanding of the costs of planned works; it should standardise more spare parts and materials; and understand better the right time to switch from maintaining an old asset to buying new. Once these measures are in place it will help the Agency plan maintenance work, and control finances, more effectively.”
- HM Revenue & Customs: Managing variations in workload15 May 2009
HC: 507 2008-2009
"Peaks in the workload of HM Revenue and Customs push up the cost of running the Department and reduce service quality. By changing the deadlines for tax returns and removing the need for some to be filled in, HMRC has already saved £7 million. By expanding take up of online services further, and helping people avoid unnecessary calls to contact centres, HMRC can reduce costs and provide a better, year-round service."
- Support to High Intensity Operations14 May 2009
HC: 508 2008-09
“The task of supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is not an easy one. Despite this challenge, the Ministry of Defence has had a number of successes, particularly in providing life-saving medical treatment. But there is still more to do. By improving the management and replenishment of stocks in theatre and getting a clearer picture of what supplies are available and where they are, the MOD could make real improvements to its supply chain.”
- Department for Transport: Improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists in Great Britain8 May 2009
“Making roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists is a key element in encouraging people to walk and cycle more. While their safety has improved generally, some are more vulnerable, such as child pedestrians from deprived areas. The Department for Transport needs to draw on its research programme and the lessons learned from the projects that it funds to find ways of improving safety, especially for groups most at risk.”
- Department for Work and Pensions: Communicating with customers7 May 2009
HC: 421 2008-2009
"The Department has made a determined effort to reduce reliance on burdensome long letters and piles of leaflets and has improved the efficiency of its communications with customers. It could, however, improve performance further by moving more of its services online. Where paper forms and letters are still necessary, it should make them more straightforward for the customer, particularly for the elderly and other vulnerable people."
- Department for Work and Pensions: Management of benefit overpayment debt1 May 2009
HC: 294 2008-2009
"The Department has improved the effectiveness of its debt management operations. More benefit overpayments are being identified and referred for recovery action. The amount of cash recovered is increasing, but so is the amount tied up in debt, as recoveries are not keeping pace with the growth in identified overpayments. Helping more customers stay out of debt will need to be an important part of the answer."
- Financial Management in the Department for Children, Schools and Families30 April 2009
"The Department has made progress in integrating financial management with its strategic and corporate planning. There is room for a better understanding of costs attributable to each of the Department’s strategic objectives. The Department could usefully consult further with delivery organisations such as local authorities to see what might be done here. It also needs to improve its management of financial risks, and to use the introduction of new finance systems to improve financial reporting and forecasting."
In 2007-08 the Department’s expenditure totalled £48.9 billion and around £40 billion (82 per cent of the Department’s spending) was spent on schools or services to support schools.
The Department has built up a large capital underspend, which is around £2.4 billion at the end of March 2009. In 2007-08 the balance increased by £654 million to £1.9 billion and 2008-09 figures will show that this increased to around £2.4 billion by the end of March 2009.
Schools build up surpluses when they do not spend their full budgets and carry over the balances to future years. An excessive surplus is defined by the Department as being greater than five per cent of annual budget for secondary schools and greater than eight per cent for nursery, primary and special schools. At 31 March 2008 nearly 40 per cent of schools had excessive cumulative surpluses and 22 per cent had held an excessive cumulative surplus for at least the last three years.
Accruals accounting is an accounting convention under which transactions are recognised as the underlying economic events occur, irrespective of the timing of cash receipts and payments related to these transactions. Under accruals accounting, expenditure incurred or income earned, but not yet paid or received, are included in the accounts in the period when they were incurred or earned. This differs from cash accounting where income and expenditure are recognised when the cash is received or paid respectively.HC: 267 2008-2009
- Addressing the environmental impacts of Government procurement29 April 2009
"Minimising environmental impact is recognised by government as a key criterion of good procurement. In 2008 progress was made by departments, but only some are on target to be practising sustainable procurement across their business by the end of this year. Procurement decisions need to be supported by a more thorough understanding of environmental benefits and costs, so that departments can show that their procurement meets the twin requirements of sustainability and value for money."
Central government and its agencies, excluding the NHS, spent £54.7 billion in 2007-08 on the procurement of non-capital goods and services. In March 2008 the government created the post of Chief Sustainability Officer, supported by a Centre of Expertise in Sustainable Procurement at the Office of Government Commerce.HC: 420 2008-2009
- Audit of Assumptions for Budget 200922 April 2009HC: 408 2008-2009
- UK Trade & Investment: Trade Support3 April 2009
“UKTI has made good headway in improving its support to UK exporters and is currently meeting, or close to reaching, all of its performance targets. However, to take informed decisions on the best use of taxpayers’ money, it needs to develop an improved cost model to determine accurately the costs of delivering its individual services.”HC: 297 2008-2009
- Financial management in the European Union27 March 2009
HC: 349 2008-2009
"Recent initiatives have started to improve the financial management of EU funds, but a positive Statement of Assurance on the legality and regularity of expenditure has yet to be achieved. The implementation of Cohesion policy remains the chief source of error. The Commission will soon start work with Member States on the design of future programmes. This work presents a good opportunity to simplify some of the rules whose complexity is contributing to error in EU spending."
- The Red Dragon project27 March 2009
HC: 296 2008-09
"Both the Ministry of Defence and the Welsh Authorities have invested a considerable amount of time, effort and money in creating modern aviation repair facilities in South Wales, with a super-hangar which is now sitting almost empty. As it happens, under the Defence Training Review there should be a future for the super-hangar at St Athan, but the Red Dragon project underlines that public bodies need to have considered all implications of their respective strategies before commencing joint projects."
Jeremy Colman, Auditor General for Wales, added:
"The Ministry of Defence and the Welsh Authorities failed to collaborate sufficiently throughout the project. Although for much of the time both had complementary objectives, they did not establish a common purpose for the project or a common understanding of their respective assumptions about the future of the site. The Red Dragon project highlights the danger in large and complex projects that involve multiple public bodies of insufficient openness and information sharing."
- Innovation across central government26 March 2009
"Despite the large sums of money being invested in encouraging innovation, central government isn’t making the most of the opportunities to improve the delivery of public services. Innovation within service delivery is vital and government must be sure that it encourages staff to contribute, listens to the people who use its services and measures what it is getting for the investment made."HC: 12 2008-2009
- HM Treasury: The nationalisation of Northern Rock20 March 2009
The NAO has reported that the nationalisation of Northern Rock in early 2008 offered the best prospect of protecting the taxpayers’ interests and was based on a sufficiently robust analysis of the options available. However, the Treasury was stretched to deal with a crisis of this nature and there were lessons to be learned. In […]HC: 298 2008-09
- Ministry of Defence: Service Families Accommodation18 March 2009
HC: 13 2008-2009
“The MOD is working to improve the housing stock for Service families but it will still take many years to achieve its aim of getting all families in the highest condition property. The MOD needs to press on with disposing of vacant properties so that it can focus resources on improving the remaining stock.
- Providing Anti Air Warfare Capability: the Type 45 destroyer13 March 2009
HC: 295 2008-2009
"The early years of the Type 45 destroyer project were beset by problems. The Ministry of Defence is currently controlling costs and timescales successfully; but it now needs to focus on installing the other equipment the ships need to obtain their full capability and on getting to grips with developing an effective support solution to be ready in time to support these destroyers."
- Social Fund Account 2007-200813 March 2009HC: 1018
- The National Offender Management Information System12 March 2009
HC: 292 2008-09
“The initiative to introduce a single offender management database has been expensive and ultimately unsuccessful. These problems could have been avoided if the National Offender Management Service had established realistic budget, timescales and governance for the project at the start and followed basic project management principles in its implementation. In delivering the new reduced programme, NOMS need to focus on better financial controls and more effective management oversight.”
- Administration of the Crown Court6 March 2009
HC: 290 2008-2009
"HM Courts Service faces a tight budgetary position and needs to get the most from its estate, staff and IT resources if Crown Court cases are to start promptly. The Service needs to improve its allocation and development of staff, so that it has enough well-trained people in each of its court locations, and tackle weaknesses in IT systems which currently bring operational risks and impair efficiency."
- Progress report on maintaining competition in markets5 March 2009
HC: 127 2008-2009
"The Office of Fair Trading has made a determined effort to address the weaknesses found in the earlier reports. But there is more to do, and the OFT needs to make sure competition enforcement remains in the public eye and businesses are left in no doubt as to what they must do to comply with the law."
- The health of livestock and honeybees in England4 March 2009
HC: 288 2008-09
“Defra eradicated outbreaks of Avian Influenza and Foot and Mouth Disease in 2007 before they could spread further. But Bovine Tuberculosis and the Varroa parasite continue to pose significant risks to the livelihoods of farmers and beekeepers. The Department could tackle disease more effectively by working with farmers and their vets to improve farm biosecurity, and by enforcing compulsory testing as well as encouraging beekeepers to register.”
- Financial reporting and financial management: General report of the Comptroller and Auditor General for 200827 February 2009HC: 133 2008-09
- Helping Government Learn27 February 2009
HC: 129 2008-2009
"We know from our audit work that projects and programmes are more likely to succeed and keep to time and budget where lessons have been learned and experience shared. Departments need to take learning more seriously, and encourage their staff to give it a higher priority through better recognition in reward and appraisal structures. Getting better at learning from the past will help government secure better value for money in the future."
- Supporting Carers to Care26 February 2009
HC: 130 2008-2009
"DWP’s services for carers are seen in a generally positive light by those taking them up, but not all eligible carers know about or take up the support on offer. Applying for Carer’s Allowance should be more straightforward, and support for carers seeking work should be more helpful by identifying part-time opportunities, in line with commitments made in the new National Strategy for Carers."
- Recruiting civil servants efficiently13 February 2009
HC: 134 2008-2009
"External recruitment is a key component of ensuring that the civil service has the right skills and capacity to deliver. Departments often pay too little attention to how they manage the recruitment process. External recruitment currently takes longer and consumes more internal staff time than it should. Our report identifies a number of improvements which all organisations can make which could deliver worthwhile savings across government."
- The Building Schools for the Future Programme: Renewing the secondary school estate12 February 2009
"Building Schools for the Future is a highly ambitious £55 billion programme. Converting that ambition to reality requires robust planning, close cost control and making a success of complex long-term partnerships. Partnerships for Schools and the Department were too optimistic in their early plans though programme management has since improved. But it remains a real challenge, in difficult market conditions, to deliver the 250 schools a year that will be needed, to include all schools by 2020 as currently planned."HC: 135 2008-2009
- The Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Response to growth in the UK Merchant Fleet11 February 2009
HC: 131 2008-2009
"The Maritime and Coastguard Agency coped with the recent sharp increase in the size of the UK-flagged merchant fleet by using its staff more efficiently and by delegating more of its survey work. But with fewer surveyors, the Agency is now struggling to inspect the increased fleet, which could put at risk the quality advantage of the UK flag. Better recruitment and succession planning will be needed, along with more strategic delegation to the classification societies."
- Building the capacity of the Third Sector6 February 2009
HC: 132 2008-2009
"Frontline third sector organisations provide important services to the general public. ChangeUp has made good headway in improving support for these organisations while Futurebuilders loans have improved the potential of some to win public service contracts. But basic flaws in the administration of both programmes have reduced their beneficial impact to date. Value for money will depend on whether the steps now being taken successfully address these problems."
- Assessment of the Capability Review programme5 February 2009
HC: 123 2008-09
“Capability Reviews are intended to assess the organisational strengths and weaknesses of government departments. There is evidence so far that departments are indeed taking actions to improve their capabilities. It remains to be seen how far these actions will result in improvements in the delivery of public services.”
- The Warm Front Scheme4 February 2009
HC: 126 2008-09
"The Warm Front Scheme has helped to alleviate fuel poverty in a large number of households. But despite changes intended to improve the targeting of the Scheme, over half of vulnerable families in fuel poverty still do not qualify, while many households unlikely to be fuel poor are able to claim a grant. The Department of Energy and Climate Change needs to improve the way it assesses eligibility for the Scheme, so that the most vulnerable households are the first to receive the assistance they need."
- Delivering High Quality Impact Assessments30 January 2009
HC: 128 2008-09
"The quality of published assessments of the impact of proposed regulations has improved. But the standard varies widely and, while there is better quantification of the costs and benefits, a minority still contain a superficial evidence base or standard of analysis.
"Departments should raise the standard of evidence used to assess the options for achieving the objectives of new regulations. They should also give greater thought to how regulations will be enforced after implementation."
- NHS Pay Modernisation in England: Agenda for Change29 January 2009
HC: 125 2008-09
"It was no mean feat transferring virtually all NHS staff on to a new pay system within a very constrained timeframe, and this element of Agenda for Change has been a success. On the other hand, the benefits that should have come with this new simpler system, such as more effective working, have not been wholly achieved. So the programme as a whole has further to go before it achieves the intended value for money for the taxpayer."
- Management of Asylum Applications by the UK Border Agency23 January 2009
HC: 124 2008-09
"The aim of the New Asylum Model is to strengthen the management of asylum applications, and it has delivered some improvements. But the system is not yet working as it should for every case. The UK Border Agency has to be sharper in gathering all relevant information as early as possible, translating it into good decisions and then speedily enforcing those decisions. There is a risk that a new backlog of unresolved cases will be created, adding to the existing backlog of 'legacy cases'."
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Managing the waste PFI programme14 January 2009
"Defra is doing a lot to accelerate the programme of new waste treatment facilities being procured through private finance. But, at the rate at which projects are being delivered, England is at risk of missing the 2013 EU landfill reduction target, leaving the UK open to the possibility of fines. The Department will need to work hard with local authorities to achieve the planned programme of new waste treatment facilities, particularly now when private finance is difficult to raise."HC: 66 2008-2009
- Central government’s management of service contracts19 December 2008
"Central government spends around £12 billion each year on service contracts, many of which are critically important to the delivery of its objectives. Improving the way these contracts are managed would not only save money, but also improve services and reduce risk. There are examples where public bodies and suppliers have worked together to improve services and reduce costs. There remains a need for more qualified people to manage these contracts, and for clear performance indicators to show whether services match up to contract objectives."HC: 65 2008-2009
- Ministry of Defence: Major Projects Report 200818 December 2008
HC: 64 2008 - 2009
“The Ministry of Defence’s major defence projects experienced further aggregate delays of 96 months and cost increases of £205 million in 2007-08. The Department has taken reasonable decisions to reflect defence priorities and progress has been made in improving procurement practice. But performance remains variable and, until the MoD and the defence industry improve their decision making processes and show sustained learning from previous projects, value for money will not be consistently delivered.”
- Planning for homes: Speeding up planning applications for major housing developments in England17 December 2008
HC: 15 2008-2009
“The Department has given local authorities a greater financial incentive to reach quicker decisions on planning applications, with more decisions on major housing schemes now being taken within 13 weeks than five years ago. Whether the speed of development has increased is less clear. The Department should use the data collected by the National Audit Office as a benchmark for assessing its future effectiveness in improving the planning process.”
Notes for Editors
1. As part of the NAO’s examination, it reviewed the case history of 100 major residential applications (i.e. developments of 10 or more homes) approved in 2006-07 by 11 Authorities, providing for the first time reliable data on how long the whole process takes.
- Financial Management in the NHS: Report on the NHS Summarised Accounts 2007-0816 December 2008
"The surplus of £1.67 billion is equivalent to about one week’s funding for the whole NHS. The organisations in the NHS are performing better financially and this surplus has created an element of certainty for financial planning that has not existed in recent years. This is especially reassuring given current financial pressures throughout the economy.
"Auditors have found matters to be addressed, such as localised accounting issues, and there are long-standing financial problems affecting a minority of trusts. The significant challenges for the NHS next year are in meeting new International Financial Reporting Standards and tougher deadlines on closure of accounts, but it looks as though most NHS bodies are well placed to cope."
Tim Burr, the head of the National Audit Office, said:
"Good financial management is not just about achieving a surplus. It is also about meeting delivery targets within the resources available. The surplus was generated through good financial management: NHS bodies delivered more cost savings than expected while still delivering against targets and improving the quality of healthcare. But better forecasting of the outcome could enable resources to be deployed more flexibly in-year."HC: 63-I 2008-2009
- Maintaining the Occupied Royal Palaces10 December 2008
HC: 14 2008-2009
"For a number of years, the grant given to run and maintain the Royal Palaces has been static – and has fallen significantly in real terms. The Royal Household is making efforts to be more efficient in how it uses its funds, but there is no measure of how effectively the Palaces are being maintained. The Royal Household and Department for Culture, Media and Sport need to develop a way of measuring the condition of the estate over time, so that the Department has confidence that the future of these national assets is secure."
- Investing for development: the Department for International Development’s oversight of CDC Group plc5 December 2008
HC: 18 2008-2009
"By achieving strong financial performance with a portfolio weighted towards poor countries, CDC will have made a credible contribution to economic development in those countries. But the scale of that contribution, or the direct effect on poverty reduction for poor people, is harder to demonstrate. DFID needs better evidence on the scale of CDC’s impact to make sure it secures the greatest development benefits."
- End of life care26 November 2008
HC: 1043 2007-2008
“Good end of life care should mean that people are treated with dignity and respect and, where possible, in their preferred place of care. Some people receive high standards of care in their final weeks, days and hours, but others do not. Organisations responsible for the care of people approaching the end of their life need to improve the planning and delivery of services, particularly support in the community. There is scope to make these improvements by using both existing and planned additional resources more efficiently and effectively.”
- Audit of Assumptions for the 2008 Pre-Budget Report24 November 2008HC: 1150 2007-2008
- Natural England’s Role in Improving Sites of Special Scientific Interest21 November 2008
HC: 1051 2007-2008
“Extra resources have gone into Sites of Special Scientific Interest – a key part of the natural environment in England - and results are starting to show. But many will take time to regenerate fully, so a sustained management effort and clear conservation objectives will be needed for long-term success.”
- HM Revenue & Customs: Management of Tax Debt20 November 2008
HC: 1152 2007-2008
“HMRC has improved the way it manages tax debt. But it has made limited progress in implementing some measures recommended by the Committee of Public Accounts in 2004 that would help it manage the growing level of debt in a more difficult economic climate. To manage tax debt more effectively, HMRC should link different debts owed on each tax by the same taxpayer and prioritise debts which are less likely to be paid without action by the Department.”
- Department for Children, Schools and Families – Mathematics performance in primary schools: Getting the best results19 November 2008
“Helping children to master basic mathematics is a central part of their primary education and in 2007 pupils in their final year achieved the best set of results so far in the national tests. In recent years, however, the rate of improvement in primary mathematics has slowed and almost a quarter of pupils are still not equipped with the understanding of mathematics they need to study the subject further, or to tackle subjects such as science once they start secondary school. The Department needs to improve how teachers assess pupils’ progress throughout the primary years, so that they can support every child to do their best in mathematics.”HC: 1151 2007-2008
- The Independent Police Complaints Commission14 November 2008
HC: 1035 2007-2008
"The IPCC has an important, high profile and sensitive role. It has made significant improvements in performance in the four years it has been in operation. But it faces challenges in managing its increasing workload and in ensuring the quality of its work. It needs to increase its productivity further, improve its quality assurance procedures for investigations, and obtain regular feedback from complainants, police officers and appellants about how their cases have been handled."
- HM Revenue & Customs: The Control and Facilitation of Imports7 November 2008
HC: 942 2007-2008
"HMRC has made it easier to import goods into the UK. The lack of information on compliance levels and the declining number of trader audits does however risk diluting the control the Department has over imports. It needs to develop ‘minimum’ levels for checks and trader audits, so that importers pay the right amount of tax and duty, and fully comply with the laws on prohibited and restricted goods."
- Ministry of Defence: The United Kingdom’s Future Nuclear Deterrent Capability5 November 2008
HC: 1115 2007-2008
"Much groundwork has been done in the two years since the Government decided to embark on a programme to maintain the country’s submarine-based nuclear deterrent capability beyond the life of the current system. Critical decisions about the design of the future submarine class and the commercial strategy required to incentivise monopoly suppliers now need to be taken so that the Ministry of Defence can stick to its demanding schedule and assure value for money over the life of the programme."
- New Dimension – enhancing the Fire and Rescue Services’ capacity to respond to terrorist and other large-scale incidents31 October 2008
HC: 1050 2007-2008
“The New Dimension programme has helped provide the Fire and Rescue Services with the specialist equipment and training it needs to respond to terrorist and other major catastrophic incidents. But better value for money could have been achieved, and the project has been subject to considerable delays. The Department for Communities and Local Government still needs to enhance major incident planning by Fire and Rescue Services for regional and national-scale incidents.”
- Allocation and management of risk in Ministry of Defence PFI projects30 October 2008
HC: 343 2007-2008
“Most of the private finance projects in its portfolio of more than 50 have been delivered successfully by the Ministry of Defence. But the Department needs to be more alert to the risks that can emerge once the project is up and running, such as inaccurate performance reporting. It could also reduce procurement times by speeding up its decision-making, and by collecting better information at the outset on current and prospective use of the service and the condition of assets.”
- Reducing Alcohol Harm: Health services in England for alcohol misuse29 October 2008
HC: 1049 2007-2008
“Alcohol misuse constitutes a heavy and increasing burden on the NHS. If services to tackle alcohol misuse are going to make a bigger difference, Primary Care Trusts need to understand better the scale of the problem in their local communities. With its increased focus on the prevention of lifestyle-related illness, the Department of Health could, for example, do more to convince Trusts about the value of timely advice to help people develop safer drinking patterns.”
- Regulating the security industry17 October 2008
HC: 1036 2007-2008
“The security industry has been subject to suspicion and even criminality in the past and the Security Industry Authority has done well to set up a licensing system which has secured a high level of compliance. Poor cost forecasting and ineffective management of the licensing scheme have, however, resulted in the SIA spending over £17 million more than planned. The Authority needs to improve the quality of its forecasting and its management of the scheme so that it is better equipped for dealing with future demand for licences.”
- Department for International Development: Operating in insecure environments16 October 2008
HC: 1048 2007-2008
"DFID staff work hard – often in difficult and dangerous situations – to deliver real benefits to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. DFID could still make better use of its teams’ growing experience in this field to adapt standard aid practices to meet the challenges presented by insecurity."
- The Department for Transport – Letting Rail Franchises 2005-200715 October 2008
HC: 1047 2007-2008
"Taxpayers and passengers should benefit from changes made to the franchising process for passenger rail services. The Department for Transport has contracted to save the taxpayer money while improving service quality, but it will need to see that capacity increases are well-managed and timely if passengers are to expect less crowded and more reliable journeys."
- Feeding back? Learning from complaints handling in health and social care10 October 2008
HC: 853 2007-2008
“The complaints systems for health and social care are not yet as accessible and responsive as they could be. There is a lack of learning from complaints, and providers are not making clear to users that services are being improved as result. Adequate staff training; proper tackling of complaints; and evidence of improvements in response to complaints are key pointers for the planned introduction of a new comprehensive complaints system across health and social care next year.”
- The Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme, 20088 October 2008
HC: 944 2007-2008
“The Government’s initiative to drive down administrative burdens on business has raised awareness of regulatory reform and departments have begun to reduce some burdens. The next step is to deliver tangible benefits for businesses. Departments need to engage more directly with businesses to focus on changes that will really help, and check that the action they are taking is having the intended effect.”
- Department for Work and Pensions Resource Account 2007-200812 August 2008HC: 863 2007-2008
- Programmes to reduce household energy consumption2 August 2008
HC: 1164 2007-2008
“There are encouraging signs that the long-term growth in household energy consumption is reversing. But most of us still forget to turn off the lights in empty rooms, and building regulations to save energy in homes are not always followed. If targets are to be met, departments need to improve their understanding of how programmes are working in real homes, and how householders are responding to them.”
- The procurement of goods and services by HM Prison Service23 July 2008
HC: 943 2007-2008
“The Prison Service has made real progress in how it buys goods and services for prisons throughout the UK. The Service spends around £450 million a year and is securing a good deal for the taxpayer in using that money. It could do still better by extending the new approach to the whole of the organisation.”
- Department for Work and Pensions: Handling Customer Complaints23 July 2008
HC: 995 2007-2008
“Whilst there is general satisfaction with the services customers receive from the Department and its Agencies, there is scope to handle complaints better. The three Agencies need to record accurately customer complaints so that they can identify where they are not meeting customer needs and can improve services accordingly. Agencies also need to do more to understand why some customers are dissatisfied with the handling of their complaints.”
- HM Revenue & Customs’ transformation programme18 July 2008
HC: 930 2007-2008
“This is an ambitious programme of change with the potential to provide significant benefits in terms of tax yield and improvements for the Department’s customers. To succeed the Department must determine what it expects the programme to achieve with the resources available. It should also establish that the planned benefits are realistic and confirm each year that those achieved are robust.”
- The Regeneration of the Greenwich Peninsula: A Progress Report16 July 2008
HC: 338 2007-2008
"The Greenwich Peninsula is an ambitious regeneration, highlighted by the landmark O2 venue. The pace of house building is already two years behind schedule, though better progress has been made on community and commercial space. English Partnerships needs to safeguard returns to the taxpayer, both by addressing the effects of delay, and by delivering the return which is due from the success of the O2."
- Renewing the physical infrastructure of English further education colleges11 July 2008
HC: 924 2007-2008
“The capital programme for further education is enabling colleges and the Learning and Skills Council to achieve together what neither could have achieved on their own, and is delivering high quality buildings. The sector has taken on a higher level of debt, and therefore of risk, but the cost should be manageable. If the second half of the programme can maintain the success achieved in the first, further education will be well placed to offer enhanced value for money."
- Financial Reporting and Financial Management: General Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General 20077 July 2008HC: 417 2007-2008
- Ministry of Defence: The Defence Information Infrastructure4 July 2008
HC: 788 2007-2008
“It was always going to be a demanding task for the Ministry of Defence to replace its diverse information technology with a single, high quality system. The MoD started with a clear vision of what it wanted to achieve and acted to address known risks. But the Programme has run into difficulties and further concerted action will be needed to increase the rate of roll out of terminals and to deliver the remaining software.”
- Ministry of Defence: Hercules C-130 Tactical Fixed Wing Airlift Capability27 June 2008
HC: 627 2007-2008
"The MoD’s focus has been on supporting troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under difficult circumstances, it has ensured the armed forces have the Hercules aircraft they need. But delays to the A400M aircraft, as well as the stresses and strains caused by sustained operational use of the existing Hercules fleet, are stretching both aircraft and aircrew and could in time pose risks to their future effectiveness."
- Widening participation in higher education25 June 2008
“Not enough is known about the extent to which disadvantaged groups are under-represented in higher education, or what measures to widen participation are most effective. The Department and the Funding Council need to secure better data on participation, for example by social class or disability. They could tailor provision more closely to people’s circumstances, such as where they live and when they can study.”HC: 725 2007-2008
- Preparations for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: Progress report June 200820 June 2008
HC: 490 2007-2008
“The preparations for the Games are well underway. But important challenges remain which will become more formidable as the spotlight turns to London after the Beijing Games. Uncertainties over the deal for the village, legacy requirements and policing and security may add cost or compromise the preparations for a successful Games. The delivery bodies need to maintain a firm stance on cost and keep in sight the intended legacy benefits too.”
- The British Council: Achieving Impact11 June 2008
"The British Council's work is valued by its customers and stakeholders. It faces a difficult challenge in delivering a wide range of products and services in 110 countries worldwide. High performance in some areas such as performance measurement and customer satisfaction needs to expand across every strand of activity. Project and programme management need to be strengthened and customer relationship systems and service standards enhanced."HC: 625 2007-2008
- Skills for Life: Progress in Improving Adult Literacy and Numeracy6 June 2008
HC: 482 2007-2008
“The Skills for Life strategy is making good progress in improving the skill levels of adults with poor literacy, language and numeracy skills. Building on this progress, the Department needs to reduce regional variations in participation and in achievement levels for people with literacy or numeracy needs. It could also work more closely with other parts of government to encourage people to take up Skills for Life courses.”
- Ministry of Defence: Chinook Mk3 Helicopters4 June 2008
HC: 512 2007-2008
"Since 2001 the MOD has been trying to work out how to make the Chinook Mk3 helicopters available for operations. Its original Fix to Field project progressed very slowly. In 2007 changing operational imperatives meant that the Department decided to start a new reversion project to make the helicopters operational more quickly, though with a lesser capability. The Chinook Mk3 story reemphasises the importance of timely decision making, clearly understanding requirements and proceeding purposefully to the solution."
- Shared services in the Department for Transport and its agencies23 May 2008
HC: 481 2007-2008
“It is disappointing to see a programme which aimed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a department leaving it on current projections some £80 million worse off. Departments need to be realistic about the challenges of implementing shared services and to manage suppliers effectively. Over the past year the Department has made efforts to improve the performance of the Shared Services Programme and it cannot afford to fail."
- Making grants efficiently in the culture, media and sport sector22 May 2008
HC: 339 2007-2008
“Grants awarded in the culture, media and sport sector support a diverse range of programmes, from funding education schemes for children to getting more people involved in sport. Grant-makers do, however, need to get a better handle on the costs and efficiency of their grant making if they are to demonstrate that as much of the money as possible goes into cultural and sporting activities rather than on administrative overheads.”
- The National Programme for IT in the NHS: Progress since 200616 May 2008
HC: 484 2007-2008
"The scale of the challenge involved in delivering the National Programme for IT has proved to be far greater than envisaged at the start, with serious delays in delivering the new care records systems. Progress is being made, however, and financial savings and other benefits are beginning to emerge. The priority now is to finish developing and deploying care records systems that will help NHS Trusts to achieve the Programme’s intended benefits of improved services and better patient care."
- Financial Management in the European Union25 April 2008
HC: 480 2007-2008
“There has been some improvement in financial management of EU funds in 2006, but there are still significant challenges to achieving a positive Statement of Assurance on legality and regularity of expenditure. To reduce the level of error the Commission needs to strengthen its supervision of Structural Measures expenditure. But with some three-quarters of European expenditure managed by Member States, they too have a major role in improving the financial management of European Union funds. The United Kingdom’s forthcoming account of its own use of European Funds is a helpful development.”
- The Procurement of the National Roads Telecommunications Services4 April 2008
HC: 340 2007-2008
“The Highways Agency’s procurement identified the risks to the National Roads Telecommunications Services project and successfully transferred them to the private sector, conducting negotiations with the preferred bidder well. It did however take a lot longer than planned and only two bidders remained through to the end of the competition. There are good practice lessons both for the Agency and for other major public procurements”
- Tackling the hidden economy3 April 2008
HC: 341 2007-2008
"HM Revenue & Customs has experimented with new ways of encouraging people into the formal economy and it is managing to detect more unpaid tax. It could make better use of penalties and secure greater publicity for prosecutions to discourage people from operating in the hidden economy. With well over £1 billion in unpaid tax each year, it is important that the Department becomes more effective in tackling the problem."
- Protecting consumers? Removing retail price controls28 March 2008
HC: 342 2007-2008
“The removal of price controls is an important step in the development of competition in these markets, but it is not the end of the story. Ofcom, Ofgem and Postcomm need to be vigilant, and be prepared to use their other powers when necessary, to ensure genuine competition is present and that it is working to serve consumers.
“And there are clear lessons for regulators considering removing price controls in other markets. In particular they must be more diligent in getting all the data they need and ensuring that their decision making is transparent and makes good use of consultation.”
- Audit of Assumptions for Budget 200821 March 2008HC: 345 2007-2008
- Preparing for Sporting Success at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Beyond20 March 2008
HC: 434 2007-2008
"With four years to go until the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, elite athletes need to know what support they will receive for 2012. Clear targets also need to be set for the level of success to be achieved at the Games, with the substantial funding available."
- Reducing passenger rail delays by better management of incidents14 March 2008
HC: 308 2007-2008
“In addition to frustrating passengers, train delays cost the economy over £1 billion year. The rail industry has made progress in keeping trains moving, despite the rise in traffic on the network but, when incidents happen, passengers should get better information about what is happening. All sections of the rail industry need to improve their incident planning to keep trains moving quickly and safely.”
- Meeting needs? The Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service7 March 2008
HC: 310 2007-2008
"The Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service has made less progress than it might have done in helping offenders to get back into work after they are released, one of the most important factors in reducing reoffending. Some of the fundamentals, which departments have known about for years, are still not in place – matters like identifying which courses most help offenders to get a job, identifying which offenders need which skills, and helping more of them to finish a course they start. The Departments’ action plan, to be issued shortly, must make it crystal clear how these problems will be addressed effectively."
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Management of Expenditure6 March 2008
HC: 309 2007-2008
“It is good news that the Department has recognised and is addressing its poor past performance on financial management. But there is still some way to go before we can feel confident that public money is being spent effectively and efficiently. The Department needs to maintain these first steps, if it is to cope in the tough financial environment reflected in the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review.”
- Protecting the public: the work of the Parole Board5 March 2008
HC: 239 2007-2008
“The Parole Board has a central role to play in the effective running of the judicial system. It is working hard to improve its performance in managing its workload. But if the Parole Board is to make decisions about the release of prisoners which are both fair and minimize the risk of harm to the public for the Board to do its job properly, it must have access to complete information. Currently that is not always happening.”
- NHS Pay Modernisation: New contracts for general practice services in England28 February 2008
HC: 307 2007-2008
“There is no doubt that a new GP contract was needed and there are now 4,000 more GPs than five years ago. But in return for higher pay, we have yet to see real increases in productivity. The extra money flowing into practices has largely benefited GP partners rather than rewarding other important members of the practice team. Primary Care Trusts now need to deliver to patients the benefits that were expected in return for GPs increase in pay.”
- Preparations for Digital Switchover27 February 2008
HC: 306 2007-2008
“The Government’s digital switchover programme will affect almost every home in the UK and most of the costs will be met by consumers. Helping consumers through the switchover process requires strong and coordinated working between Government and delivery agencies.
“Progress so far is encouraging, but there is a long way to go with almost one third of licence fee payers still not understanding switchover, up to 26 million analogue television sets yet to be replaced or converted and nearly 1,200 transmitter sites to be upgraded.”
- The roll-out of the Jobcentre Plus office network22 February 2008
HC: 346 2007-2008
“My report recognises the considerable achievement that has been made delivering over 800 centres to a high quality standard, under budget. The project team controlled costs effectively and achieved savings against the budget – for example by introducing better procurement arrangements. There are lessons here for other Government departments undertaking major procurement projects.”
- The Home Office: Reducing the risk of violent crime21 February 2008
HC: 241 2007-2008
“Violent crime is an issue everyone will have read about and it is something which a fifth of the adult population have said they worry about. The rise of gun and knife crime is something that will deeply concern every community and the impacts of this sort of criminal activity can devastate individuals and destabilise communities.
“To date, the Home Office has not had a long term, strategic approach to tackling violent crime. It has this week published a new Tackling Violence Action Plan which we all hope will deliver results.”
- Managing financial resources to deliver better public services20 February 2008
“Departments’ financial management has improved since 2003. But, tighter financial settlements, the drive for efficiency savings and rising public expectations about the quality of public services mean that there should be no let-up in the government’s efforts to extract maximum value from its use of taxpayers’ money."HC: 240 2007-2008
- Department for International Development – Providing budget support to developing countries8 February 2008
HC: 6 2007-2008
“Budget support can help developing country governments deliver basic services to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. But to ensure that money provided by the UK is spent by governments in the most efficient and effective way and that it reaches the people who need it, DFID needs to improve further some of the basics. These include setting more precise objectives, monitoring progress more systematically, and clarifying the risks to UK funds.”
- Increasing Employment Rates for Ethnic Minorities1 February 2008
HC: 206 2007-2008
“Some progress has been made in tackling unemployment rates within ethnic minority groups, but the reality is that over recent years, while there has been a slow but steady improvement, the overall reduction in the employment gap has been modest.
“The Department for Work and Pension’s strategy has been fragmented but is being refocused on those living in deprived areas. While this provides opportunities to help those most disadvantaged, it carries the risk that some ethnic minorities may not receive the help they need to get a job. Unless the Department is prepared to do more to reach out to the ethnic minority communities, prospects for increasing their employment rate remain bleak”
- The National Probation Service: the supervision of community orders in England and Wales31 January 2008
HC: 203 2007-2008
“There is some evidence that community orders can reduce the likelihood of reconviction, but I am concerned by gaps in the National Probation Service’s knowledge about its management of these sentences. The Service needs to identify its capacity to deliver community orders and the associated costs, and the effectiveness of different order requirements in reducing reconviction.
“As a matter of urgency, the Service should establish a mechanism to monitor and report the number of orders not completed in accordance with courts’ wishes.”
- The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority: Taking forward decommissioning30 January 2008
HC: 238 2007-2008
“The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority took on the tough job of decommissioning the UK’s legacy nuclear facilities. It has put a lot of effort into determining the scale and nature of the task ahead. Whilst the scale of the task is now better defined, estimates of costs to the taxpayer have continued to rise. At the same time, the start and stop nature of decommissioning work at some sites lessens the value for money of the significant resources invested to date.”
- Releasing resources to the frontline: the Department of Health’s Review of its Arm’s Length Bodies25 January 2008
HC: 237 2007-2008
“The Department should be commended for its management of the review, having achieved its savings targets. But there are lessons to be learnt more generally about making sure that targets are clear and focused on delivering value for money and improving performance. And it is essential that departments are able to measure their progress against a clear set of baselines, which need to be identified before projects start.”
- Department For Work and Pensions: Progress in tackling benefit fraud23 January 2008
HC: 102 2007-2008
“The Department for Work and Pensions has made tackling benefit fraud a priority and has made good progress in reducing fraud, which represents a substantial achievement by its staff. It is also ahead of other comparable countries in its measurement and understanding of benefit fraud.
“The Department’s specific counter-fraud activities cost £154 million during 2006-07 and identified £106 million of overpaid benefits. Although some of the Department’s initiatives lead to earlier interception of overpayments and may deter potential fraudsters, I believe the Department could do more to determine whether its activities are cost effective.”
- Making changes in Operational PFI Projects17 January 2008
HC: 205 2007-2008
“PFI deals have proven to be flexible to change and, when considering that these deals will span a number of decades, that is essential. Now that an increasing number of PFI deals are in their operational stage, and change will inevitably be needed over time, the public sector has to raise its game to get a better outcome and use the guidance and resources available, particularly as changes made to operational projects have not always provided value for money.”
- Electronic service delivery in the Driver, Vehicle and Operator Agencies in Great Britain16 January 2008
HC: 204 2007-2008
“Bringing services online can save money and raise the quality of the service received. I am pleased to see that, by following good practice, the Agencies have improved the service they offer drivers. However, there is scope for improvement, and I would urge the Department to continue to evaluate current pilots and investigate ways of using the technology to further improve the services offered.”
- Fourth Validation Compendium Report19 December 2007
HC: 22 2007-2008
“Good quality data are essential if performance measures and targets are to be used effectively to improve public sector delivery and accountability. It is good news that data systems are improving, but departments must transfer these lessons to their new data systems. If we are to have confidence in the performance reported by government, all systems used to monitor it must be robust.”
- Caring for Vulnerable Babies: The Reorganisation of neonatal services in England19 December 2007
HC: 101 2007-2008
“Neonatal services are a challenging and necessarily innovative area of medicine, caring for some of the National Health Service’s most vulnerable patients who must receive the best care possible. Efforts made by the Department to improve the service to date are encouraging, but there is still more to do. Top of the list must be addressing the staffing and capacity problems. And it is impossible to say whether the introduction of networks have improved the overall value for money of the service because of the lack of data on outcomes and the variable state, and use of, financial management information.”
- Compensating victims of violent crime14 December 2007
HC: 100 2007-2008
“The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority’s performance has got worse since I last reported on it in 2000. It is taking longer to deal with cases, it has not reduced the number of ineligible applications and has frequently missed its targets over the years.
“Delays in resolving these issues can make it more difficult for victims to move on from a traumatic experience. CICA has started a major overhaul of how it operates. We look to CICA to make swift improvements in the service it provides to victims.”
- Partnering for success: Preparing to deliver the 14-19 education reforms in England13 December 2007
HC: 99 2007-2008
"Getting these reforms right will be vital to the futures of many of our young people. In many cases, local institutions and people on the ground are responding impressively to the need for genuine collaboration to deliver the best education possible for all young people. But the less well developed areas still have much to do to provide all the options young people will be entitled to by 2013."
- DEFRA: A progress update in resolving the difficulties in administering the Single Payment Scheme in England12 December 2007
HC: 10 2007-2008
"Since my report over a year ago on the implementation of the Single Payment Scheme, the Rural Payments Agency has made encouraging progress in remedying the problems I highlighted, as demonstrated by an increase in farmers’ satisfaction with the handling of their claims.
"But, until the Agency is in the position consistently to meet the June deadline each year and can process payments within an acceptable tolerance of error, the risk is that farmers’ confidence in the scheme will wane and the European Commission will levy financial penalties."
- NHS (England) Summarised Accounts 2006-0711 December 2007
HC: 129 -I 2007-2008
"The NHS achieved a surplus in 2006-07 after a period of rising deficits. But this is not a time to be complacent; both the Department and the NHS accept that a number of challenges remain.
"The national picture is one of financial balance, but there remains a relatively small core of NHS organisations that continue to report significant deficits. There is no doubt that good financial management is linked to good patient care in the long term. A failure to keep a tight grip on financial performance will undermine service quality, an area in which the NHS must not let patients down."
- Helping people through mental health crisis: The role of Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment services7 December 2007
HC: 5 2007-2008
"Crisis Resolution Home Treatment teams are really beginning to prove their worth in the NHS. They are providing significant benefits and increased satisfaction for service users and reducing pressure on hospital beds.
"However, a lack of resources and a lack of multi-disciplinary support are limiting what these teams can do. And not all of those who would benefit from this service are being considered for it. These issues need to be addressed if the service is to improve."
- Improving Corporate Functions Using Shared Services29 November 2007
HC: 9 2007-2008
"Central government needs to get much better at managing its corporate services. Shared services have the potential to deliver significant efficiency savings but it is not yet clear that the £1.4 billion of savings estimated by the Cabinet Office will be achieved."
- Improving the efficiency of central government’s office property28 November 2007
HC: 8 2007-2008
“Government departments have a challenging time ahead in addressing the efficiency of their office accommodation. There are positive signs of departments beginning to engage with the issue, but there is still a vast amount of change required. Government is still a long way from achieving full value from its office estate.”
- The privatisation of QinetiQ23 November 2007
HC: 52 2007-2008
“The move to privatise QinetiQ was effective in safeguarding the viability of a business of national importance and secured half a billion pounds for the taxpayer. However, I believe more money should have been secured for the public purse.
“And it is of concern that the Ministry of Defence did not seek specialist advice on the incentive scheme, which resulted in the top ten managers owning shares worth £107m. This level of return exceeded what was necessary to incentivise management.
“The MoD must now be proactive in managing the remaining risks to deliver the long term value for money from the deal.”
- The Carbon Trust: accelerating the move to a low carbon economy22 November 2007
HC: 7 2007-2008
“Climate change presents very serious global risks. The Carbon Trust has done a good job at persuading businesses and public sector organisations to start tackling the problem and its work to date has proved value for money. Its achievement in reducing carbon dioxide emissions in 2006-07 by up to two million tonnes is commendable, but it is a small one in view of the scale of the challenge ahead. The Carbon Trust needs to build on its good work and extend its drive to encourage business leaders to review the carbon footprint of their organisation and to take decisive action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Managing risk in the Overseas Territories16 November 2007
HC: 4 2007-2008
"The UK government has a responsibility to ensure the security and good governance of the overseas territories, and I'm encouraged by areas of progress made in the last ten years.
"Though they share many challenges the Overseas Territories are a very diverse group. There is more that can be done to help all Territories consistently reach the best standards already to be found amongst them."
- Sustainable employment: supporting people to stay in work and advance14 November 2007
HC: 32 2007-2008
"Many initiatives led by the Department for Work and Pensions have increased the number of people entering work and, as such, have made a difference. However, for some people, help in finding work is only part of the solution, they also need support during the transition as they start a new job, and help to increase their skills so they can stay in work and move up the ladder.
"The Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills need to work together, and to join up national initiatives with local action so that people are not just helped into work, but to stay in work."
- Department for Communities and Local Government: Housing Market Renewal9 November 2007
HC: 20 2007-2008
“Housing market renewal is a radical programme but it is a high risk approach. While there have been physical improvements in some neighbourhoods, it is unclear whether intervention itself has led to improvement in the problems of low demand. And in some cases intervention has exacerbated problems in the short-term.
“The Department for Communities and Local Government needs to make sure that pathfinders not only delivers its regional development plans, but also complements the broader regeneration of areas contributing to better schools and transport links.”
- Home Office: The cancellation of Bicester Accommodation Centre8 November 2007
HC: 19 2007-2008
"There were two main risks to successful delivery of the Bicester asylum centre: one related to project management, such as delays, higher costs and falling benefits; and the second a change in the demand for such a facility, due to other initiatives. Unfortunately, both of these risks were realised.
"Bicester highlights the need for Departments to identify, for schemes that require planning permission, the impact of planning delays on cost and delivery using a range of scenarios. The Home Office must now move forward and consider how to get best value from the empty site in Bicester."
- The Pensions Regulator: Progress in establishing its new regulatory approach26 October 2007
HC: 1035 2006-2007
“My report in 2002 into Opra detailed a number of failings, so to be able to report good progress by its successor in establishing new regulatory arrangements is very welcome.
“The Pensions Regulator has successfully put in place a framework to identify and address the key issues and risks to private sector final salary pension scheme members. Central to that has been the strategy of addressing the areas of greatest risk. The next step for the Regulator is to continue its push to roll out the same level of regulatory oversight to money purchase schemes as it has for final salary schemes.”
- Improving the disposal of public sector Information, Communication and Technology equipment31 July 2007
HC: 531 2006-2007
“Government has so far not given enough thought to how it disposes of its computers and related equipment. Growing concerns about the environment and the increasing volumes of equipment means this issue is becoming more important.
“Government needs to understand better the trade-offs between securing better immediate financial value and the wider environmental costs and benefits associated with the disposal of ICT equipment. It should then use this knowledge to develop appropriate procurement and disposal strategies.”
- Leaving the services27 July 2007
HC: 618 2006-2007
“The practical realities for people leaving the Armed Forces can be very demanding. The process of finding a new home and a new job at the same time is something most of us would find quite stressful. So it is encouraging that most make that transition smoothly, and without too many troubles.
“And undoubtedly, part of that is due to the good support the Ministry of Defence provides to those leaving the Forces. It is important that all those leaving the Services know what support is due to them, and have the opportunity to take advantage of it.”
- Staying the course: the retention of students in higher education26 July 2007
HC: 616 2006-2007
"Compared to most other countries, a high proportion of students in higher education are successfully completing their courses. This is a good achievement at a time when higher education is being opened up to more students. But variations in retention rates between higher education institutions indicate that retention could be increased further, bringing major benefits to the extra students who would complete their studies and more value to the taxpayer and the economy from the public funds expended on higher education."
- Department for Work and Pensions Resource Accounts 2006-0725 July 2007
HC: 875 2006-2007
“Once again I have had to qualify my opinion on the Department for Work and Pensions accounts because of the significant sums lost to fraud and error: £2.5 billion or 2.1% in the last year.
“At the same time I have been able to remove two aspects of the qualification of the Department’s accounts which is a clear tribute to the leadership evident within the Department in tackling these issues.”
- Reducing the cost of complying with regulations: The delivery of the Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme, 200725 July 2007
HC: 615 2006-2007
“There is no certainty that the Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme will deliver its intended objectives. For regulatory reform to succeed, departments must understand business and measure and communicate results. So far, they have made a pragmatic start. Businesses, however, are not convinced that the programme will make a real difference to them. I will revisit this to check on progress.”
- Management of large business corporation tax25 July 2007
HC: 614 2006-2007
"Large businesses are a significant contributor to the UK economy. The recommendations in my report will help the Department manage the risks to Corporation Tax revenues more effectively and work more collaboratively with large businesses. The Department should embed cultural and behavioural changes in the everyday practice of its staff to achieve these aims."
- The budget for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games20 July 2007
HC: 612 2006-2007
"The Olympic Games is now on a firmer financial footing thanks to the budget announced in March 2007. This should help all those involved in delivering the Games to move forward with greater confidence.
"However a budget is just that - a budget not a target. The Department must still work to contain funding and achieve value for money, and should make clear what will be delivered for the public’s money. There will be a need for clear and quick decision making on funding, effective commercial arrangements with suppliers, and finalisation of designs and legacy plans."
The report makes recommendations to manage risk in relation to the budget. Those which require immediate action are:
- Vehicle Excise Duty Accounts 2006-0719 July 2007
HC: 800 2006-2007
'I was concerned last year that the significantly higher rates of VED evasion by motorcyclists might undermine confidence in the DVLA's enforcement regime. My concern is even stronger this year, given the sharp jump in the evasion by motorcyclists, and by motorists more generally.'
'It must be brought home to persistent non-payers of VED, whether motorcyclists or car drivers, that they will sooner or later be subject to enforcement action.'
- Helping people from workless households into work19 July 2007HC: 609 2006-2007
- Coal Health Compensation Schemes18 July 2007
HC: 608 2006-2007
“The former Department of Trade and Industry has settled some 575,000 coal health compensation claims which in itself would be a major achievement, but it did not prepare itself properly for introducing the schemes for these two serious mining related injuries. In the early stages the consequences were significant. The taxpayer has paid too much in administration costs and many claimants, some of whom are elderly and infirm, have had to wait a long time for their compensation.
“But the Department also showed what can be achieved once it started to get its act together. These schemes illustrate important lessons for other government departments when establishing and implementing future compensation schemes.”
- Transforming logistics support for fast jets17 July 2007
HC: 825 2006-2007
"The Ministry of Defence has made significant reductions in the cost of repairing and maintaining its jets, whilst broadly maintaining aircraft availability. On this basis, the changes represent value for money and underline the benefit of the MoD's approach to partnering with industry and rationalising repair activity.
"However, risks remain and it is important for the MOD to continue to manage these so as not to compromise the good work it has done in this area."
- Government on the internet: progress in delivering information and services online.13 July 2007
HC: 529 2006-2007
Progress has been made by departments and agencies in getting more information on the web. When I last reported on this subject in 2002 I reported weaknesses in information across government on the cost and usage of its websites. Todays report highlights that little improvement has been made in these areas. Departments need to focus on understanding the cost effectiveness of their websites and who uses them and why, so that they can better meet the needs of citizens. I therefore welcome the initiatives of Directgov and businesslink.gov.uk which aim to streamline and rationalize the Governments web estate and should help to concentrate minds and focus efforts.
- HM Revenue & Customs 2006-07 Accounts: The Comptroller and Auditor General’s Standard Report12 July 2007
HC: 626 2006-2007
On tax credits
“Once again, the levels of claimant error and fraud in the tax credit schemes are unacceptably high. This has led me to qualify my audit opinion on regularity of these payments. It is important that the Department now targets reductions in levels of error and fraud and considers how its compliance teams can engage more widely with tax credit claimants.”
On income tax (PAYE)
“HMRC’s computer systems are no longer well suited to the efficient administration of income tax especially where people have more than one job or change jobs frequently. This has led to employees paying too much or too little tax. HMRC has put in place a number of measures to improve the quality and timeliness of PAYE processing, in advance of its implementation of a new computer solution in 2008. The Department should quantify the success of its measures in reducing levels of error within PAYE.”
On income tax (self-assessment)
“The Department has made good progress in engaging with taxpayers through the internet. However, a million taxpayers still failed to submit their returns by the 31 January deadline. The Department must continue its work to target groups who are more prone to non-compliance, for example those new to self-employment and subcontractors in the construction industry.”
On VAT missing trader fraud
“The Department has strengthened the operational measures it uses to tackle missing trader fraud, and this is to be welcomed. The Council of the EU has approved legislation to allow the Department to apply a reverse charge, which it can apply to criminals trading in goods associated with the fraud, namely mobile phones and computer chips. There is still a significant risk however, that fraudsters will simply switch their trade to other goods not covered by the reverse charge. Missing trader fraud is a major challenge right across the EU. It will need concerted action by all Member States to find a long term solution to this problem.”
- Evaluation of regulatory impact assessments 2006-0711 July 2007
HC: 606 2006-2007
"Impact Assessments should be at the heart of the policy making process, but they have not always being used effectively. They need to add to the substance and effectiveness of the policy making process, not be viewed as a box to tick"
- HM Revenue & Customs: Accuracy in processing Income Tax6 July 2007
HC: 605 2006-2007
"HMRC has improved its processing of income tax returns but there are still substantial numbers of taxpayers who are affected by processing errors. Vulnerable groups such as pensioners are likely to be disproportionately affected. The recommendations in my report will help the Department build on the work already underway to improve the processing of tax returns."
- NHS (England) Summarised Accounts 2005-20066 July 2007HC: 742
- Improving services and support for people with dementia4 July 2007
HC: 604 2006-2007
"For too long dementia has not been treated as a high priority. Today's report shines a light on how significant an issue dementia is and how much scope there is to improve the way in which people who suffer from dementia are treated.
"Our rapidly ageing population means that costs for addressing dementia will continue to increase and, without redesign, services for people with dementia are likely to become increasingly inconsistent and unsustainable. Dementia can no longer be set aside. The issues raised in this report need to be addressed as a matter of urgency."
- The compensation scheme for former Icelandic water trawlermen29 June 2007
HC: 530 2006-2007
Todays report highlights a number of problems experienced by the Department while implementing its compensation scheme for Icelandic water trawlermen. The scheme had evident shortcomings that inhibited efficient and effective delivery of the scheme objectives. Better preparation by the Department prior to launching the scheme would have put it in a much stronger position to deliver an effective service to claimants.
The Ombudsman highlighted, in her report in February 2007, a lack of Government guidance on designing compensation schemes. It is important that other departments learn the lessons outlined in our report so that the same mistakes are not made again.
- Building and maintaining river and coastal flood defences in England15 June 2007
HC: 528 2006-2007
“The Agency has made progress in improving how it manages England’s flood defences since I last reported in 2001. But climate change is likely to increase the number of homes and businesses at risk of flooding in the future.”
“If the Environment Agency has any chance of meeting its future targets it must now focus more consistently on improving the condition of its high risk flood defences. Its work in the best performing regions shows that this is possible.”
- The Management of Staff Sickness Absence in Department of Transport and its agencies8 June 2007
HC: 527 2006-2007
“Today’s report paints a mixed picture of sickness absence in the Department for Transport and its agencies. While some parts of the Department compare favourably against other public and private sector organisations and all parts of the Department appear to be proactive in managing sickness absence, the high rates in the customer-facing agencies of DVLA and DSA are worrying.
“The central department appears to have a good record of sickness absence but that does not absolve it from the responsibility to hold those agencies with high levels of sickness absence to account.”
The report makes recommendations on how the Department should better manage sickness absence. These include making line managers more aware of responsibilities when it comes to sick leave, making earlier use of occupational health services and ensuring better quality standards for recording sickness absence. Specific recommendations to agencies include the DVLA bringing long term sickness absence to a swifter resolution.
- Benchmarking and market testing the ongoing services component of PFI projects6 June 2007
HC: 453 2006-2007
“It is important that public officials test the cost and quality of facilities services to get value for money during the life of a PFI contract. My report highlights lessons in how value-testing should be carried out. In particular, public officials must have the necessary skills, must promote vigorous competition when value testing, and they must have a full understanding of whether and how the private sector’s price and service proposals offer value for money.”
The report recommends that the recent Treasury guidance be taken up by departments and that the Treasury should continue liaising with departments to identify suitable cost data to use in benchmarking. The NAO also urges that further steps should be taken to compare the cost and quality of facilities services under the PFI with conventional outsourcing experience.
- The Thames Gateway: Laying the Foundations23 May 2007
HC: 526 2006-2007
“The Thames Gateway is the most ambitious regeneration and development programme in Western Europe. If these ambitions are to be realised it is crucial that there is stronger cross-government leadership and clearer objectives for local partners to work towards. An overall programme plan to coordinate projects and give a live picture of what has been achieved and what remains to be done is an urgent priority.”
- Prescribing costs in primary care18 May 2007
HC: 454 2006-2007
“We have found that some small changes in prescribing behaviour can lead to substantial savings for the NHS. All primary care trusts should learn from the best performing PCTs and strive to be as efficient in their own prescribing, making the £200 million in savings realistically achievable.”
- The Financial Services Authority: A Review under Section 12 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 200030 April 2007
HC: 500 2006-2007
“The FSA has done well in managing the merger from 11 regulatory bodies to become one of the world’s first unified financial services regulators. In doing so, it has created strong and effective structures.
“But the challenge for the FSA is now to move to the next level. It must do more to demonstrate its impact; to get a clearer understanding of how much its different activities cost; and, crucially, to streamline its processes and advice, to benefit industry and consumers.”
- Helping individuals understand and complete their tax forms27 April 2007
"Tax can be a complicated matter so it is important to make it as easy as possible for taxpayers to understand and comply with their tax obligations. My report shows how forms and guidance can be made more accessible and the importance of grasping opportunities to simplify the complex rules and procedures."
- Building for the future: Sustainable construction and refurbishment on the government estate20 April 2007
“When I last reported on construction in 2005, I emphasised the need to consider both the costs and benefits over the whole life of a building, not just the initial capital required. Despite this, today’s report highlights a continuing failure by departments to consider the long-term value of sustainability in their new builds and refurbishments. This is particularly disappointing given the importance of sustainability in promoting a deeper understanding of value for money.
“Government departments and agencies spend in the region of £3 billion each year on new builds and major refurbishments. If sustainability is well handled, and addressed at the very beginning of construction projects, it can and should provide better value for money in the long term.”HC: 324 2006-2007
- Pay Modernisation: A new contract for NHS consultants in England19 April 2007
HC: 335 2006-2007
“Consultants are central to the work of our national health service and deserve to be paid properly for the work that they do. However, the new contract was introduced to benefit not only consultants, but patients and the health service in general. Although a new contract was needed it is regrettable that the costs are higher than expected and that we are not yet seeing any clear evidence of improvements in productivity or services for patients.
“It is important that trusts are clearer about what they need from their consultants and plan within their resources”
- Financial Management in the European Union18 April 2007
HC: 401 2006-2007
“There has been some improvement in financial management of EU funds in 2006, but there are still significant challenges to achieving a positive Statement of Assurance on legality and regularity of expenditure. To reduce the level of error the Commission needs to strengthen its supervision of Structural Measures expenditure. But with some three-quarters of European expenditure managed by Member States, they too have a major role in improving the financial management of European Union funds. The United Kingdom’s forthcoming account of its own use of European Funds is a helpful development.”
- Northern Ireland Policing Board: Best Value Performance Plan for 2006-0728 March 2007HC: 388 2006-2007
- Managing the Defence Estate: Quality and sustainability23 March 2007
HC: 154 2006-2007
“The effectiveness of our armed forces depends fundamentally on the quality of their living and working accommodation.
The Ministry of Defence is working hard to improve the management of its estate and its current strategy, if pursued consistently, should build on recent progress and bring further dividends in future.”
- Audit of Assumptions for Budget 200721 March 2007HC: 393 2006-2007
- Heritage Lottery Fund16 March 2007
HC: 323 2006-2007
“The Heritage Lottery Fund has done valuable work in preserving the UK’s heritage and promoting access to it. However, it needs to do more to simplify its procedures, to provide better support to applicants and grant recipients and to reduce time and cost overruns.”
- Department for Transport: Estimating and monitoring the costs of building roads in England15 March 2007
HC: 321 2006-2007
“The Department for Transport and the Highways Agency need to define more clearly the risks to estimates at the point schemes enter into the programmes and the Agency should make sure that they have sufficient numbers of skilled project management and commercial staff”.
- Tackling rural poverty in developing countries14 March 2007
HC: 322 2006-2007
“The rural poor do not always receive as much aid and assistance as their numbers warrant. Despite urbanisation, the majority of the world’s poorest people still live in rural settings and by 2015 two thirds of the poor will still be there.
“We acknowledge the difficulties in reaching the rural poor. DFID must continue its good work providing much needed aid to developing countries, but with a stronger focus on the most vulnerable people in rural areas.”
- Improving the PFI tendering process8 March 2007
HC: 149 2006-2007
“The tendering process is a vital part of the whole PFI deal and the recommendations in my report need to be acted on to secure better tendering and value for money.”
- Legal aid and mediation for people involved in family breakdown2 March 2007
HC: 256 2006-2007
“One in three in our survey told us that they had not been made aware that mediation was an option. The Legal Services Commission needs to publicise the advantages of mediation and remove the financial disincentives to solicitors of recommending this option to their clients. Mediation can provide a less adversarial route than the courts for many families involved in family breakdown and result in savings in legal aid of over ten million pounds a year.”
- The Shareholder Executive and Public Sector Businesses28 February 2007
HC: 255 2006-2007
“Despite the Shareholder Executive’s limited powers, it has up to now provided good value for money to parliament and the taxpayer. The Executive has gone a long way in improving how government acts as a shareholder and should be commended for this.
“However, a number of barriers have been identified that could lead to future inefficiencies; and improvements could be made to the way in which the Executive’s performance is measured. The Government should take on board our recommendations if it is to build on its early work and set stretching targets for increasing the value of all public sector businesses"
- The Academies Programme23 February 2007
HC: 254 2006-2007
"Our report today shows that the Academies programme is improving the standards of education and raising the achievements of pupils from deprived backgrounds. These are early days and more remains to be done, especially in improving English and maths results. The challenge for academies is to sustain the improvements while also spreading their benefits more widely in their communities.
"For the programme, the challenge is to manage capital costs better for the hundreds of new academies still planned to be built and to use the lessons from the programme, for example on good quality school buildings, to get good value for money for the large capital investment currently being made in academies and other secondary schools."
- The Assets Recovery Agency21 February 2007
HC: 253 2006-2007
“On current performance, there is a risk that the work of the Assets Recovery Agency will not be self-financing by 2009-10. As a matter of urgency, the Agency must develop robust management information, incorporating specific targets for the completion of the cases it investigates and introduce time-recording to assess the resources devoted to them.
“The Agency has to do more to ensure it fulfils its statutory role of monitoring the accreditation of Financial Investigators both inside and outside the Agency. It must follow up on individuals who have not complied with professional development requirements and, where necessary, remove the accreditation of people who don’t make the grade.”
- Financial auditing and reporting – General report of Comptroller and Auditor General 2005-069 February 2007
HC: 148 2006-2007
"This year I have been impressed with the improvement in timeliness of government accounts submitted for audit, and I believe the steps taken by the Treasury and departments to improve their financial management are delivering benefits.
"A few departments still have some way to go in providing high quality accounts on a timely basis, but this should not overshadow the significant improvement achieved by the majority. For departments to be able to plan effectively and make informed decisions, their financial information must be robust and complete."
- Identity and Passport Service: Introduction of ePassports7 February 2007
HC: 152 2006-2007
“The Identity and Passport Service used sound project management techniques and made effective use of technical specialists to ensure the ePassports project was delivered on time and UK ePassports meet international standards.
“However, the full security benefits of ePassports will not be realised until UK border control readers are fully upgraded, and it is only then that we will know the impact of this new technology on travellers. To ensure future projects deliver value for money, the Identity and Passport Service should aim to improve its engagement with other parts of government, and develop greater in-house expertise to reduce its reliance on external consultants.”
- Dr Foster Intelligence: A joint venture between the Information Centre and Dr Foster LLP6 February 2007
HC: 151 2006-2007
“Bringing together the best of the public and private sector has clear benefits in improving the quality of public sector services. But in such cases attention must be paid to protecting government spending and value for money for the taxpayer. By taking the decision not to carry out a formal competitive tender process in this instance, the Department cannot demonstrate that the joint venture was the best structure to meet its needs or that it represents good value for money.
- Preparations for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – Risk assessment and management2 February 2007
HC: 252 2006-2007
“The London Olympic and Paralympic Games may seem a long way away, but with a programme of this magnitude it is vital to keep the momentum up. There is a lot more to do and a variety of risks to be managed if the Games are to be a success. Failure in any one area will impinge on others. Finalising the budget should be a priority to allow the Olympic programme to move forward with greater confidence and certainty.
“As well as learning from the experience of other cities that have hosted the Games, I have also arranged with my counterpart in China to learn lessons from the Beijing Games in 2008 that could usefully be applied to London.”
- Big science: Public investment in large scientific facilities24 January 2007
HC: 153 2006-2007
“The introduction of a shared plan covering all the Research Councils is beginning to deliver new large facilities which will be available to scientists from across the research base. Improvements are needed however, if the benefit of the current planned £1.2 billion investment in scientific facilities is to be maximised. Before a project is approved, the range of scientific, industrial and economic benefits should be consistently specified.
“The full financial impact of a facility also needs to be better understood to make sure that only those projects which are sustainable in the long term are selected. More consistent application of Government-wide project review procedures and greater sharing of procurement practices would help teams to deliver timely and economical projects.”
- Ofwat – Meeting the demand for water19 January 2007
HC: 150 2006-2007
“A good understanding of the needs of water consumers should be at the heart of Ofwat’s regulatory regime. The regulator must work to achieve robust and reliable data on how consumers use water and on how effective water efficiency projects are in conserving water. This data can then be used to underpin its regulatory decisions.
“In the case of leakage problems in the Thames region over the last six years, Ofwat has now taken direct action with a view to protecting the consumer. It must ensure, in future, that its enforcement actions are timely and focused on the consumer.”
- How the Department for Culture, Media and Sport assessed the BBC’s efficiency as part of the licence fee settlement18 January 2007
HC: 183 2006-2007
Licence fee payers are naturally anxious to know their money is being used as efficiently as possible. I am satisfied that the Department has enough information at its disposal to take a view on the BBC’s efficiency when determining the level of the next licence fee settlement.
- Improving quality and safety – Progress in implementing clinical governance in primary care: Lessons for the new Primary Care Trusts11 January 2007
HC: 100 2006-2007
"Good clinical governance is essential if patients and the public are to have greater confidence in the NHS. Whilst Primary Care Trusts have made good progress in getting structures and processes in place, there has been less progress in actually implementing the fundamental components of clinical governance, particularly patient and public involvement.
"Our recommendations provide a clear steer to enable the new Primary Care Trusts to create a professional culture within their organisations that accepts and promotes as the norm accountability, the learning of lessons and the pursuit of high quality, safe care for patients."
- Sure Start Children’s Centres19 December 2006
HC: 104 2006-2007
“Though it is too early to tell the long-term impact of Sure Start children’s centres on children's lives, we do know that families value the services they provide. It is vital that the services reach the most needy members of our communities. For the future, local authorities and the centres should focus on gaining a better understanding of their costs, and on working effectively with other agencies to get the maximum value from the resources available through children’s centres.”
- The Estate Strategy of the Police Service of Northern Ireland15 December 2006
HC: 101 2006-2007
“The Police Service of Northern Ireland is facing a formidable challenge in transforming its estate, but work to modernise the estate is leading to visible improvements.
“Progress has been slower than expected, and while the PSNI is taking steps to strengthen its estate management, it still has much to do if it is to deliver on time its five year plan to transform its estate and deliver better value for money.”
- Central government’s use of consultants15 December 2006HC: 128 2006-2007
- Assessing the value for money of OGCbuying.solutions14 December 2006
HC: 103 2006-2007
"Public sector organisations are being challenged now to gain greater value for money from their procurement activities. OGCbuying.solutions has made good progress in enabling public sector organisations to achieve good value for money in the procurement of goods and services. But it could do much more by improving its performance. This would be helped by greater co-ordination of the many public sector bodies carrying out procurement activities."
- HM Revenue and Customs: Filing VAT and Company Tax returns13 December 2006HC: 102 2006-2007
- Home Office Resource Accounts 2005-0611 December 2006
HC: 124 2006-2007
“The Home Office has recognised the need to improve its financial management and the action taken this year led to a better set of accounts. Building on the improvements to its accounts production processes, there is much to be done to embed a culture of strong financial management at the heart of the Department. As part of this, the Home Office will need to continue to build a high quality team of in-house finance professionals.”.
- The Home Office: Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour7 December 2006
“Whilst 65 per cent of people in our case review did not go on to commit any further anti-social behaviour after receiving one anti-social behaviour intervention, there is a hard core of individuals who repeatedly behave in an anti-social way and for whom more action is needed.
“The Home Office should formally evaluate the success of different interventions and the impact of combining enforcement interventions with support services to better advise Anti-Social Behaviour Co-ordinators at a local level. They should also consider developing and implementing further more preventive measures to tackle the causes of anti-social behaviour.”HC: 99 2006-2007
- Audit of Assumptions for the 2006 Pre-Budget Report6 December 2006HC: 125 2006-2007
- Helping newly registered businesses meet their tax obligations6 December 2006
HC: 98 2006-2007
"Newly registered businesses are a diverse group, ranging from those setting up in business for the first time to those with previous business experience, so increasing tax compliance among this group requires a flexible approach which targets the differing needs of businesses. Pursuing the recommendations highlighted in this study will help HM Revenue and Customs in further improving the ability of new businesses to deal with their tax affairs.
Introducing a unique tax identifier would require substantial resources but could also result in substantial benefits, enabling HMRC to view the entire tax affairs of individual businesses and achieve a better understanding of the needs of different groups of taxpayers."
- Jobcentre Plus: Delivering effective services through Personal Advisers29 November 2006
HC: 24 2006-2007
“Overall my findings are encouraging. Personal advisers have proved themselves an effective means of supporting people on benefits looking for work and they are delivering a good service. But, as my report shows, the benefits could be even greater. Better support for personal advisers would allow them more time to do what they do best - actually sitting down with the people who need guidance.”
- 2005-06 Community Fund Financial Statements – follow up report on actions taken by the Fund…28 November 2006
HC: 20 2006-2007
"The Community Fund have made progress in improving their controls aimed at ensuring lottery money is spent on the causes for which it was intended, but there is more still to do to reduce the risk of loss through fraud. When grants are fraudulently obtained, the real losers are the voluntary and charitable groups who could have put this money to good use."
- Ministry of Defence: Major Projects Report 200624 November 2006HC: 23-I 2006-2007
- The Modernisation of the West Coast Main Line22 November 2006
HC: 22 2006-2007
“When the Strategic Rail Authority stepped in, the project to modernise the West Coast Main Line was in disarray, vastly over-budget and with few of the planned improvements in place. It was only through good direction by the Strategic Rail Authority and then the Department for Transport and through the exercise of firm management by Network Rail that the project was brought back on track so that benefits of faster journeys are now being delivered to passengers.
“The weaknesses in the management of the project before 2002 should provide ample warning of the dangers of entering into a scheme on this scale without clear leadership, plans and project management expertise; without fully engaging stakeholders; and using untried technologies.
"Future major projects should draw upon these lessons learned, give careful consideration up front to the potential effects of programme slippage and include plans to minimise these risks.”
- Delivering successful IT-enabled business change17 November 2006
HC: 33 2006-2007
“IT projects in the public sector have too often been associated with failure – this report provides an opportunity to change that. Learning from experience is not just a case of appreciating what went wrong, but also encompasses understanding what went right. Success can never be guaranteed, but it should not be an unfathomable mystery. The common threads among these IT programmes and projects are evidence that a favourable outcome is not a matter of luck, but is the result of sound judgement.”
- Department for Work and Pensions Resource Accounts 2005-20067 November 2006
HC: 1710 2005-2006
“The Department for Work and Pensions has shown a clear determination to resolve these long standing problems and early signs suggest some real reductions in the volume of fraud and error can be expected. It is always encouraging to see such progress, but the scale of the challenge ahead remains considerable.
“The fact is that, in 2005-06, an estimated £2.7 billion was paid out to people who weren’t entitled to the money.”
- Recruitment and retention in the Armed Forces3 November 2006
HC: 1633 2005-2006
"The Ministry of Defence is working hard to tackle the issues in recruitment and retention to ensure there are sufficient levels of personnel in the Armed Forces. But, given current levels of operational deployment, workloads on Service men and women in some areas are heavy."
"Armed Forces personnel told us that the key reasons they were leaving early included the pressures on their family life. It is therefore vital that, in addition to the financial incentives offered, the Ministry of Defence maintains its focus on longer term measures."
- Improving procurement in further education colleges in England25 October 2006
HC: 1632 2005-2006
“Modern procurement processes have reached a stage where they can bring colleges big savings – money that they can redeploy to direct services for learners. All colleges should seize the opportunities and support that are now readily available to help them implement the necessary improvements.”
- The delays in administering the 2005 Single Payment Scheme in England18 October 2006
HC: 1631 2005-2006
“In paring back the work required to get the single payment scheme ready on time, the Agency underestimated the effort involved in processing claims, but also left itself without the management information it needed to take control of the situation. As a result, many farmers faced unacceptable delays before getting their money and the Agency made mistakes in paying out the correct amount. Unpicking what has gone wrong will take some time.
“Foremost among the Agency’s priorities now must be to determine if the administrative and computer systems for mapping land and processing claims are really up to the job. Until that happens, there is little prospect the problems will be remedied in time to deal with the 2006 claims.”
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Reducing the reliance on landfill in England26 July 2006
HC: 1177 2005-2006
Meeting the EU targets for reducing landfill will be a tough challenge but there is much that can still be done if action is taken now. Reducing the amount of waste going to landfill requires both new treatment plants and a greater use of recycling, and no one should be in any doubt of the scale of the challenge involved. The weight of evidence shows that disposing of biodegradable waste in landfill sites is harmful to the environment, and if we are to substantially reduce our reliance on landfill then there really is no time to waste?
- Ministry of Defence. Delivering digital tactical communications through the Bowman CIP programme25 July 2006
HC: 1050 2005-2006
“The introduction of Bowman and CIP provides the first increment of a world class military communication, command and control system, which is delivering considerable benefits to the UK armed forces. The timescales set for the original programme in 2001 were overly ambitious given the technical challenges that emerged and the sheer scale of the conversion. To ensure delivery of the recast programme by 2007 the MOD and its contractor General Dynamics UK should continue to respond flexibly to inevitable change and to the remaining technical challenges."
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office Accounts 2005-0621 July 2006
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office resource accounts for 2005-06, published today, include a report by Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, on the theft and misuse of satellite phones in Iraq. The NAO report provides Parliament with details of losses of £594,000 caused by the unauthorised use of satellite telephones in Iraq. […]HC: 1495 2005-2006
- Public Health Laboratory Service Board Accounts 2004-200521 July 2006
Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, reported to Parliament today that payments, amounting to £233,000, which the Public Health Laboratory Service Board made to certain members of staff in 2004-05 did not comply with Treasury guidelines. In the course of closing PHLS Media Services, the Board retained a small number of individuals […]HC: 1429 2005-2006
- House of Commons Members Estimate 2005-200620 July 2006
Sir John Bourn, Head of the National Audit Office, today reported to Parliament on the qualification of his audit opinion on the House of Commons Members Resource Accounts for 2005-06. Notes to Editors Press notices and reports are available from the date of publication on the NAO website at www.nao.gov.uk. Hard copies can be obtained […]HC: 908 2005-2006
- International benchmark of fraud and error in social security systems20 July 2006
HC: 1387 2005-2006
“Social security fraud and error is a problem not only for the UK, but also across the world. While we always want to see further progress, the international picture tells us that DWP is at the forefront in identifying, measuring and reducing this kind of fraud and error. I am encouraged that it will be able to pass on some of the lessons it has learnt, and gain from the experiences of other countries.”
- HM Revenue & Customs: ASPIRE – the re-competition of outsourced IT services19 July 2006
HC: 938 2005-2006
“The Department successfully completed the first major re-competition of a large public sector IT contract and transfer from one supplier to another without a loss in service to the taxpayer. In doing so they spent £75m on procurement and transition. The Department’s reason in this case to pay part of the bid costs and to contribute to the costs of transition was to encourage competition.
“My report highlights useful lessons from HM Revenue & Customs’ experience of ASPIRE for other government departments in re-competing major contracts and managing transitions.”
- A Foot on the Ladder: Low Cost Home Ownership Assistance14 July 2006
HC: 1048 2005-2006
"Low cost home ownership assistance has helped thousands to take their first step onto the housing ladder. But, to ensure that as many other households as possible get the chance to do the same, the assistance needs to be more tightly managed and better focused on those it would benefit most.
"The Department for Communities and Local Government, the Housing Corporation and Registered Social Landlords must work together to ensure that the assistance is being effectively managed and monitored. This will be particularly important in securing value for money as the schemes expand to try to help an extra 100,000 households."
- Improving the use of temporary nursing staff in NHS acute and foundation trusts12 July 2006
HC: 1176 2005-2006
“Trusts have been successful at reducing expenditure on agency nursing staff but there is scope to obtain greater value for money by improving the procurement and management of all temporary nursing staff. It is very important that trusts further develop their understanding of their demand for all nursing staff as the ability to be able to manage the workforce effectively will play a major part in determining whether trusts remain in financial balance under Payment by Results.”
- HM Revenue & Customs 2005-06 Accounts: The Comptroller and Auditor General’s Standard Report11 July 2006
HC: 1159 2005-2006
On tax credits
“The first full results of the new tax credit scheme since its introduction in April 2003 show that the level of claimant error and fraud was unacceptably high. I have therefore once again qualified my audit opinion on the Trust Statement. HMRC must now use this baseline figure to continue to target future reductions in error and fraud. HMRC closed the tax credits e-portal because of a serious attack by organised criminals submitting false claims using stolen identities. It must ensure that the new system fully complies with established government standards on security.”
On income tax (Pay As You Earn)
“HMRC has identified a number of problems with the way PAYE is working, especially for more complex cases, which have led to employees paying too much or too little tax. HMRC should closely monitor the effect of its planned improvements in ensuring that taxpayers pay the right amount of tax.”
On VAT missing trader fraud
“Missing trader fraud is a fraud perpetrated against the VAT system that has affected EU Member States. HMRC has sought to use all of the tools at its disposal to combat the fraud, but the confidence of the fraudsters over the last eighteen months has increased. The Department should continue to work with the European Commission and other Member States. Such concerted action is essential in successfully tackling this problem.
- DFID: working with non-governmental organisations and other civil society organisations to promote development6 July 2006
HC: 1311 2005-2006
"Civil Society Organisations play an important role in many developing countries, helping people get their voice heard and securing basic necessities and rights. The Department for International Development has achieved positive impacts at a project level, but more robust assessment and monitoring needs to be in place to ensure cost effective, strategic and sustainable benefits for the poorest people around the world."
- The creation of Ofcom: wider lessons for public sector mergers of regulatory agencies5 July 2006
HC: 1175 2005-2006
“Creating new organisations from mergers is fraught with difficulty and costs. The early evidence is that Ofcom’s creation has been successful.
“However, success in carrying out mergers is certainly not guaranteed. Given the large number of proposed mergers in the public sector, it is important that Government develops its expertise in managing mergers and its understanding of their costs and benefits.”
- Child Support Agency – implementation of the child support reforms30 June 2006
HC: 1174 2005-2006
"The Child Support reforms were a final but, in the event, unsuccessful attempt to deliver the policy behind the creation of Child Support Agency in 1993. While they have benefited a number of the poorest parents and children, overall they have not achieved value for money and have not achieved what they were designed to do.
"These problems will have caused genuine hardship and distress to many parents and their children. From design to delivery and operation, the programme to reform the Agency has been beset with problems which the Department for Work and Pensions, the Agency and its IT supplier EDS, have struggled to deal with.
"The Agency’s new Operational Improvement Plan is a significant step towards addressing these difficulties and is showing signs of improving the Agency’s performance, but, given the scale of the problems, there will be no quick fix."
- Evaluation of Regulatory Impact Assessments 2005-0628 June 2006
HC: 1305 2005-2006
“Regulatory Impact Assessments are a vital tool for Government to ensure that it is not introducing unnecessary or excessive regulation. Although they have been in use for several years, many are still failing to perform their intended function properly. Departments must address the reasons why they have been so slow at making improvements to the process of assessing the impact of regulation.”
- Department of Health: The National Programme for IT in the NHS16 June 2006
HC: 1173 2005-2006
“Substantial progress has been made with the National Programme for IT. The Programme promises to revolutionise the way in which the NHS uses information to improve services and patient care. But significant challenges remain for the Department and NHS Connecting for Health.”
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Countryside Agency – The right of access to open countryside9 June 2006
HC: 1046 2005-2006
The crucial test for the right to roam is whether walkers can use it, and on this score it has been a success. Walkers are no longer restricted to existing footpaths across large areas of the countryside, with thousands of hectares now open to the public, in many cases for the first time. But although the scheme’s implementation has gone well, the Countryside Agency should have put effective risk and project management procedures in place earlier.
- Ministry of Defence: Using the contract to maximise the likelihood of successful project outcomes7 June 2006
“The Ministry of Defence is at the forefront in some areas of contract best practice and, when viewed against the constraints under which they work, that is a real achievement. However, they must now meet the challenge of ensuring that all of their contract negotiation is consistently at this high level.”
This is the second report in a series of studies and follows ‘Driving the successful delivery of major defence projects: effective protect control is a key factor in successful projects’, which was published in May 2005.HC: 1047 2005-2006
- Financial management in the NHS – NHS Summarised Accounts 2004-20057 June 2006
'There is no single cause of the deficits at NHS bodies and no single answer either. There are some systemic issues that have contributed to the deterioration in financial performance, but there are also local failings. The Commission is exploring this in more depth in two forthcoming reports - the review of the NHS financial management and accounting regime requested by the Secretary of State and Learning the Lessons from Financial Failure. Both of these reports will make recommendations to help put the NHS back onto a firmer financial footing.
‘One thing is clearer than ever: financial balance can only be achieved with commitment from finance staff, managers, clinicians and Board members. However the requirement for high quality, timely accounts must not be overlooked. There have been acknowledged weaknesses in the accounts of the NHS bodies and in 2004-05 there was evidence of inappropriate adjustments or omissions in more than a fifth of the accounts submitted for audit by NHS bodies. We have worked with NHS bodies, the Department of Health and NAO to address the weaknesses and hope to see an improvement in the quality of the 2005-06 accounts.’
Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said:
'Many NHS bodies are managing their finances well, but it is worrying that a significant number are in deficit. All parts of the NHS and staff throughout the organisation must act together and take responsibility for improving financial management.
'It is especially vital that financial control is not weakened as NHS bodies prepare for the impact of mergers and restructuring, as well as implementing Payment by Results and other national initiatives. It is also imperative that NHS bodies improve the quality of information underpinning both management and annual accounts. As well as supporting NHS Boards in informed decision-making, this will also allow local and national NHS accounts to be prepared, audited and published sooner.'HC: 1092-I 2005-2006
- VAT on e-commerce26 May 2006
HC: 1051 2005-2006
"I find it encouraging that HM Revenue and Customs is well positioned to manage the current risks to VAT from electronic commerce. With internet sales set to mushroom in the next few years, the Department faces a challenge to ensure it stays ahead of the game. Some businesses are inventive at side-stepping VAT, and the Department must be equally innovative in guaranteeing the Exchequer gets the revenue it is due."
- Department for Constitutional Affairs: Fines Collection25 May 2006
HC: 1049 2005-2006
“The Department for Constitutional Affairs has taken positive steps on fines collection since we last reported on this subject in 2002 but our study revealed that some offenders cannot pay their fines, and many others are determined not to pay until forced to do so. If justice is to be done, it is essential that those who have been given a financial penalty by the courts should pay up. To this end, fines must be set at a level appropriate to the offender’s ability to pay, and effective action should be taken to enforce them. Evidence from some areas suggests that a more robust approach to collection from the start can change the culture of non-payment among offenders.”
- Supporting Small Business24 May 2006
HC: 962 2005-2006
“Government needs a better appreciation of its impact on small businesses, and simpler performance management arrangements, if it is to achieve its aim – to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.”
- Department of Health – The Paddington Health Campus scheme19 May 2006
HC: 1045 2005-2006
“A hospital development of this scale and ambition was always going to be a challenge but the original business case was inadequate, the lack of a single sponsor was a fatal flaw and the final scheme was not deliverable. The cancellation of the Paddington scheme at a cost of £15 million has left patients, staff and visitors to the hospitals with outdated facilities.
“The Department of Health should draw on my report’s conclusions and recommendations when deciding how best to initiate and manage its £7 billion to 9 billion capital investment programme in order to provide value for money to taxpayers, patients and staff.”
- The Termination of the PFI Contract for the National Physical Laboratory10 May 2006
HC: 1044 2005-2006
"The Department for Trade and Industry handled the termination of the contract well. But different handling of the project by all parties at the early stages might well have avoided the problems which led to the termination."
- The Provision of Out-of-Hours Care in England5 May 2006
HC: 1041 2005-2006
“The Department of Health is now on track towards providing high-quality out-of-hours services. I am glad to see signs that Primary Care Trusts are getting better at managing their providers.
“However, it is disappointing that there were so many problems in starting the new arrangements and I am concerned that so few providers are meeting their targets for the time it takes respond to patients. And the continuing confusion over whether out-of-hours is supposed to be an urgent or unscheduled care service should be dispelled without delay.”
- A5 Queue relocation in Dunstable28 April 2006
HC: 1043 2005-2006
‘The residents and workers of Dunstable were led to expect reduced congestion and improved air quality, and so were naturally disappointed when these did not materialize. I encourage the Highways Agency to learn from this and do more to keep local communities informed about schemes, their progress and their likely effects.’
- The Management of Staff Sickness Absence in the National Probation Service26 April 2006
HC: 1042 2005-2006
"Managing sickness absence more effectively will lead to better value for money in the Probation Service. Reducing current sickness absence rates of 12.3 days per person to the Service’s target of 9 days would save £11 million, equivalent to 66,420 working days or some 300 full time employees. Tackling the problem will require investment in better information, robust and proactive management, and consistent application locally of policies that have been agreed nationally, particularly to tackle stress and improve work/life balance. "
- Update on PFI debt refinancing and the PFI equity market21 April 2006
HC: 1040 2005-2006
"This report gives an update on how much money the public sector has recouped from PFI debt refinancings which I am pleased to say resulted from work carried out by the NAO and the Public Accounts Committee. The public sector is also being more cautious about entering into refinancing deals after the NAO highlighted the risks that can attach to these transactions.
We will continue to monitor future developments in the PFI debt and equity markets including the trends in financing costs as these are an important component of all PFI deals. More information on PFI investors’ costs and benefits will assist an understanding of how the market is functioning"
- Good Practice Briefing for PFI PPP1 April 2006HC: N/A
- Financial Auditing and Reporting: General Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General 2004-0531 March 2006
HC: 1015 2005-2006
"I am pleased to see an increasing recognition of the key role that financial management has to play in the efficient use of resources and the delivery of efficiency programmes. The continuing steps being taken by the Treasury and departments to improve the professionalism of the finance function are therefore very welcome.
"A number of departments are still finding it difficult, however, to submit good quality financial accounts in time for them to be audited and laid before Parliament before its Summer Recess. It is essential for all departments to recognise the immense benefits to themselves of producing robust, accurate and up to date financial information throughout the financial year and not leaving it to the end of the year. This is essential if they are to improve their resource planning and decision making."
- Ministry of Defence: Reserve Forces31 March 2006
HC: 964 2005-2006
“The men and women who make up the Reserves have provided our nation with a vital service over the last decade. The Ministry of Defence has successfully created a culture where Volunteer Reservists expect and want to serve on military operations. To sustain and make the most of Reserve Forces’ contribution, the Department should build further on the momentum in its ongoing work to improve the training and support of Reservists.”
- Smarter food procurement in the public sector30 March 2006
“While many public bodies have made progress in achieving better value for money from their catering services, there is still much to do to improve performance. The principal lesson is that gains in efficiency need not be at the expense of, indeed can go along with, improvements to the quality of food and sustainability.”HC: HC 963-I 2005-2006
- Financial management in the European Union29 March 2006
HC: 999 2005-2006
“I am pleased to see the Court was able to issue a positive Statement of Assurance on a larger percentage of EU spending than it had done at any time in the previous decade and that it reported that the Commission had made progress in a number of key areas of financial management, such as the development of its internal control framework.
“Last year, I said that the United Kingdom’s Presidency of the European Union in the latter half of 2005 presented the United Kingdom authorities with an opportunity to push for improvements in financial management. I am pleased to see therefore that the United Kingdom Presidency made a substantial contribution to initiatives in this area. The challenge is to keep up the momentum during the Austrian and Finnish Presidencies in 2006.”