Gareth Davies, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) of the National Audit Office, has reported on the 2019-20 accounts of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

He has qualified his opinion on the DHSC’s ‘Core Department and Agencies’ Statement of Financial Position because it records loans to local NHS trusts that the C&AG believes should be reduced in value at the reporting date because there was no prospect of them being fully repaid without the Department itself injecting the cash to facilitate repayment. DHSC disagreed with this judgement and the accounts reflect the full value of these loans – a figure some £2.2 billion higher than if the loans had been reduced in value. Because these loans are with bodies within the DHSC group, and balances within the group are eliminated on consolidation, the financial position of the group overall is materially correct. Therefore, the C&AG has not qualified his audit opinion on the DHSC group.

In his report the C&AG also touches on other important issues relating to his audit including financial reporting and governance issues at University of Leicester Hospitals NHS Trust, the two Ministerial Directions in operation during 2019-20 (covering clinicians’ pensions and COVID-19 spend) and the absence of authorisation from HM Treasury for certain special payments. He also briefly looks ahead to the challenging technical issues likely to be a feature of his audit of the 2020-21 accounts.

Annual report and accounts

Audit certificate and report (pages 118-131)

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