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Report cover showing English countryside

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Countryside Agency – The right of access to open countryside

The crucial test for the right to roam is whether walkers can use it, and on this score it has been a success. Walkers are no longer restricted to existing footpaths across large areas of the countryside, with thousands of hectares now open to the public, in many cases for the first time. But although the scheme’s implementation has gone well, the Countryside Agency should have put effective risk and project management procedures in place earlier.

Published:
9 Jun 2006
Report cover showing a woman's feet on a stepladder

A Foot on the Ladder: Low Cost Home Ownership Assistance

“Low cost home ownership assistance has helped thousands to take their first step onto the housing ladder. But, to ensure that as many other households as possible get the chance to do the same, the assistance needs to be more tightly managed and better focused on those it would benefit most.

“The Department for Communities and Local Government, the Housing Corporation and Registered Social Landlords must work together to ensure that the assistance is being effectively managed and monitored. This will be particularly important in securing value for money as the schemes expand to try to help an extra 100,000 households.”

Published:
14 Jul 2006
Report cover showing a train

The Modernisation of the West Coast Main Line

“When the Strategic Rail Authority stepped in, the project to modernise the West Coast Main Line was in disarray, vastly over-budget and with few of the planned improvements in place. It was only through good direction by the Strategic Rail Authority and then the Department for Transport and through the exercise of firm management by Network Rail that the project was brought back on track so that benefits of faster journeys are now being delivered to passengers.

“The weaknesses in the management of the project before 2002 should provide ample warning of the dangers of entering into a scheme on this scale without clear leadership, plans and project management expertise; without fully engaging stakeholders; and using untried technologies.

“Future major projects should draw upon these lessons learned, give careful consideration up front to the potential effects of programme slippage and include plans to minimise these risks.”

Published:
22 Nov 2006
Report cover showing defence land

Managing the Defence Estate: Quality and sustainability

“The effectiveness of our armed forces depends fundamentally on the quality of their living and working accommodation.
The Ministry of Defence is working hard to improve the management of its estate and its current strategy, if pursued consistently, should build on recent progress and bring further dividends in future.”

Published:
23 Mar 2007
Report showing a government building

Building for the future: Sustainable construction and refurbishment on the government estate

“When I last reported on construction in 2005, I emphasised the need to consider both the costs and benefits over the whole life of a building, not just the initial capital required. Despite this, today’s report highlights a continuing failure by departments to consider the long-term value of sustainability in their new builds and refurbishments. This is particularly disappointing given the importance of sustainability in promoting a deeper understanding of value for money.

“Government departments and agencies spend in the region of £3 billion each year on new builds and major refurbishments. If sustainability is well handled, and addressed at the very beginning of construction projects, it can and should provide better value for money in the long term.”

Published:
20 Apr 2007
Report cover showing the Thames Gateway area

The Thames Gateway: Laying the Foundations

“The Thames Gateway is the most ambitious regeneration and development programme in Western Europe. If these ambitions are to be realised it is crucial that there is stronger cross-government leadership and clearer objectives for local partners to work towards. An overall programme plan to coordinate projects and give a live picture of what has been achieved and what remains to be done is an urgent priority.”

Published:
23 May 2007
Report cover

Vehicle Excise Duty Accounts 2006-07

‘I was concerned last year that the significantly higher rates of VED evasion by motorcyclists might undermine confidence in the DVLA’s enforcement regime. My concern is even stronger this year, given the sharp jump in the evasion by motorcyclists, and by motorists more generally.’

‘It must be brought home to persistent non-payers of VED, whether motorcyclists or car drivers, that they will sooner or later be subject to enforcement action.’

Published:
19 Jul 2007