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Department for Culture, Media and Sport Accounts 2011-12

Amyas Morse, Comptroller and Auditor General, has refused to fully sign off the 2011-12 accounts of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The C&AG’s audit opinion was qualified due to the Department’s accounts not accurately reflecting the value of certain assets held within the Group.

The BBC properly prepares its accounts to the International Financial Accounting Standards, rather than government accounting standards, meaning it recorded its tangible non-current assets (mainly land and buildings, plant and machinery, and fixtures and fittings) at depreciated historic cost rather than under the fair value convention. The BBC has indicated to the Department that it will supply figures on a fair value basis for future years.

Despite the absence of reliable valuation information under the fair value convention, given the cost of the assets involved, it is likely that there is a significant misstatement of assets in the Department’s accounts.

The Department’s focus on the delivery of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games meant that it had originally planned to prepare the accounts in the autumn and lay them in December. Notwithstanding the difficulties involved in preparing the accounts for a complex department with a large number of separate bodies, this still allowed a period of more than four months to prepare the accounts. However, the Department underestimated the complexity of the task and lacked the necessary capacity in its finance function, meaning that an extension to the statutory deadline had to be granted, and additional help needed to be purchased.

The Department has committed to undertake a review of the 2011-12 process. This review has been welcomed by the NAO, which has called on the Department to learn the lessons from this year to ensure it can account to Parliament in a timely manner in the future.

Notes for Editors

  1. Under the Government Resources and Accounts Act 2000, the Treasury is required to have laid accounts for all government departments before the House of Commons by 31 January. This deadline was amended to 25 February 2013 in this instance.
  2. Press notices and reports are available from the date of publication on the NAO website, which is at https://www.nao.org.uk. Hard copies can be obtained from The Stationery Office on 0845 702 3474.
  3. The National Audit Office scrutinizes public spending for Parliament and is independent of government. The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), Amyas Morse, is an Officer of the House of Commons and leads the NAO, which employs some 860 staff. The C&AG certifies the accounts of all government departments and many other public sector bodies. He has statutory authority to examine and report to Parliament on whether departments and the bodies they fund have used their resources efficiently, effectively, and with economy. Our studies evaluate the value for money of public spending, nationally and locally. Our recommendations and reports on good practice help government improve public services, and our work led to audited savings of more than £1 billion in 2011.

PN: 13/13