Background to the report

In January 2018, Parliament approved the Restoration and Renewal Programme (the Programme) so the significant work to the Palace of Westminster could be undertaken, and to meet wider objectives such as improving accessibility and providing educational facilities.

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The Programme is at an early stage with an outline business case planned to be ready in autumn 2021, and approval from Parliament expected to follow in 2022. This is subject to change, given the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019 set out how the Programme would be managed from April 2020. It formalised a new Sponsor Body, responsible for the Programme, overseeing a Delivery Authority which manages the Programme.

Content and scope of the report

Through our wider value for money work we have seen how major programmes often face challenges in their early stages. Unclear objectives and rising costs can contribute to poor value for money. There are similar early risks associated with any of the approaches taken to restore the Palace. This report aims to identify the value for money risks relevant to the approach approved by Parliament – doing repair work while it moves elsewhere. It recommends how Parliament and the Sponsor Body can reduce these risks and describes the potential impact of not doing so. It outlines:

  • the Programme background (Part One); and
  • progress developing the Programme, alongside the relevant value for money risks (Part Two).

This report is based on work carried out between January and March 2020 and draws on our back catalogue of reports. As such, the timeframes included in this report represent the position as at March 2020 – these may change as the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic becomes clearer. Because the Programme is at an early stage, we do not seek to conclude on its value for money or whether the best value for money option for the works was selected. We will revisit our understanding of the risks as the Programme develops.

“The restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster is a highly complex and challenging programme. It is vital that from the outset the Sponsor Body and Parliament work together to apply the lessons from other major projects. This will allow them to manage the risks to value for money and timely delivery, and maintain public confidence in the programme.

“We will update our assessment of progress in managing these risks at all key stages of the programme.

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO


Publication details

Press release

View press release (24 Apr 2020)

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