Briefing for House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee: Performance of the Dept of Energy and Climate Change
28 Oct 2009
This briefing has been prepared for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee to provide an overview of the work and performance of the Department in the financial year 2008-09 and subsequent months.
“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.”
This briefing by the National Audit Office is in response to a request from the Environmental Audit Committee to provide an overview of government policy on adapting to climate change, including the implications of the Climate Change Act 2008 and the cross-government Adapting to Climate Change Programme, and progress across government Departments in identifying and managing risks from future climate change impacts.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
This briefing by the National Audit Office has been carried out in response to a request from the Environmental Audit Committee to provide an update on the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme covering developments since the Committee last reported on this topic in 2007.
“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.”