The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every aspect of people’s lives and placing great demands on governments and public institutions.
The scale of the UK government’s response will have implications for public spending and public service delivery for years to come. It is too early to tell what the impact will be, but it will be profound.
As the UK’s public spending watchdog, it is our role to support Parliament in holding the government to account. We will be carrying out a substantial programme of audit work on the government’s response to COVID-19. Our work will also provide expert insight to help ensure that appropriate lessons are learned for the future.
Gareth Davies, Comptroller & Auditor General
Our programme of work
In light of the wide range and significance of the government’s actions to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, we intend to carry out a broad and varied programme of work.
We are looking at government preparedness for the pandemic, the spending on the direct health response and the wider emergency response. We are also looking at the measures aimed at protecting businesses and individuals from the economic impact.
We will prioritise our work on areas where we think there have been particular challenges and where we feel there is most to learn.
Work in progress
Previous relevant reports
A collection of our previous work which is relevant to the issues being faced in the pandemic response.
Preparing for emergencies
- Contingency preparations for exiting the EU with no deal (2019) looked at the work of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, which aims to increase UK government’s ability to respond to and recover from civil emergencies.
- Exiting the EU: supplying the health and social care sectors (2019) examined the government’s plans for maintaining medical supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Responding to economic shocks
- Asset protection scheme (2010) looked at a scheme the government introduced in 2009 to protect banks against exceptional losses during the financial crisis.
- The creation and sale of Northern Rock plc (2012) examined the nationalisation and eventual sale of Northern Rock, another significant government intervention in banking brought about by the financial crisis.
- Support to business during a recession (2010) looked at the design and set-up of several schemes to support businesses through the recession that stemmed from the financial crisis.
- Evaluating the government balance sheet: borrowing (2017) includes an explanation of how government borrows money to fund public expenditure, and the costs and risks of doing so.
- NHS financial management and sustainability (2020) was our eighth report on the financial sustainability of the NHS.
- Adult social care at a glance (2018) looked at key trends, developments, and pressures in the social care system.
- Financial sustainability of Local Authorities (2018) reviewed the financial and service sustainability of local authorities.
How we are working
We are mindful of the pressures COVID-19 is placing on government and are carefully considering our work to ensure we do not compromise the emergency response.
Read more about the way that we are working during the pandemic, including our approach to financial audit and how to contact us.