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Report details
Autumn 2019

Government support to business

The support that government extends to businesses and industries is substantial and complex, including loans, grants, tax reliefs, training and business advice. Delivering this support is spread across central government departments and local bodies. The European Union provides support to UK businesses of around £3 billion a year. The study will review a sample of … Read more

Autumn 2019

Shale gas fracking (hydraulic fracturing)

The government says shale gas fracking (hydraulic fracturing) has the potential to support greater energy security, economic growth and jobs as part of the UK’s transition to a lower carbon economy. It contends that a strong regulation regime will ensure on-site safety, prevent environmental contamination, mitigate seismic activity and minimise greenhouse gas emissions. Following widespread … Read more

Autumn 2019

Investigation: Pre-school vaccination programmes

Vaccination is a crucial tool in protecting individuals’ health and the wider population, particularly for people with existing health problems who are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Vaccinations are a key element of preventing both outbreaks and transmission of disease. Vaccines are given in early childhood to provide protection at a time when children are … Read more

Autumn 2019

Exiting the EU: supplying the health and social care sectors

On 31 October 2019, the United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union (EU). The Continuity of Supply Programme has been set up by the Department for Health and Social Care to ensure the supply of medicines and other goods to the health and social care sectors in the event of ‘no deal’. As … Read more

Autumn 2019

The UK border: preparedness for EU exit further update

On 31 October 2019, the United Kingdom (UK) is set to leave the European Union (EU). The government is preparing for when the UK–EU relationship changes and the EU begins treating the UK as a non-member state and third country for the purposes of EU law. We have previously published two reports on government’s preparedness at the … Read more

Autumn 2019

The Equipment Plan 2019-2029

The Ministry of Defence’s (the Department’s) Equipment Plan will set out its equipment and support budget for the period from 2019 to 2029. It includes spending on equipment already in use and equipment in development. It accounts for more than 40% of the Department’s total spending, meaning stability of the wider defence budget depends on … Read more

Autumn 2019

Investigation into university technical colleges

University technical colleges (UTCs) are a type of academy school that focus on providing technical education primarily to students aged 14 to 19. At June 2019, 50 UTCs were open and 8 had closed, of which one converted to be a mainstream secondary school within a multi-academy trust. Two more UTCs are due to close … Read more

Autumn 2019

Investigation into the rescue of Carillion’s PFI hospital contracts

The construction of the new Midland Metropolitan hospital and the extension to the Royal Liverpool University hospitals were funded by Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) and were being built when Carillion collapsed in January 2018. Both construction projects were not able to attract private re-financing and in mid-2018 the PFI contracts were cancelled and HM Treasury … Read more

Autumn 2019

British Business Bank

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a major role in the economy but sometimes have problems accessing finance. British Business Bank, which launched in 2014, supports SMEs in accessing finance to start and grow their businesses. The study will test whether the British Business Bank is optimally delivering access to finance for small and medium-sized … Read more

Autumn 2019

Management of nuclear-licensed infrastructure projects

The Ministry of Defence (the Department) requires specialist infrastructure, such as docks and assembly facilities, to support its Nuclear Enterprise. In our 2018 landscape report we described the infrastructure environment and listed a series of projects which the Department had underway to upgrade facilities and build what it needs to support the Enterprise. A number … Read more

Late 2019

Review of capital expenditure in the NHS

The National Audit Office is undertaking a review of capital expenditure in the NHS. This follows on from our January 2019 report on NHS Financial Sustainability, which described issues with capital funding and planning, or how the NHS spends money on buying or improving assets such as facilities and technologies. This review will build on … Read more

Late 2019

High Speed Two: progress review

The High Speed Two programme aims to create a new high-speed rail service. The Department for Transport (the Department) is the sponsor of the programme and High Speed Two Ltd (HS2 Ltd), a company wholly owned by the Department, is responsible for developing, building and maintaining the railway. We have reported on the programme three … Read more

Late 2019

Improving the prison estate

The capacity of the prison estate is under strain and much of it is in poor condition. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons documented some of the most disturbing conditions the Inspectorate had ever seen in 2017-18.  HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) has committed to improving the prison estate, including providing up to 10,000 new … Read more

Late 2019

Local authority commercial investment

Local authorities are subject to financial pressures from reductions in government funding and increased demand for services. One way that local authorities are responding is by making commercial investments to provide income (sometimes alongside other objectives). While local authorities have a long history of owning commercial assets, the last three years have seen a step-change … Read more

Early 2020

Electricity networks

The electricity network includes over 800,000 km of electricity cables which connect households and businesses to sources of energy generation. Network costs account for roughly one quarter of the typical household electricity bill. In 1990 the network was privatised and divided among several private companies. Ofgem, a non-ministerial government department, is tasked with regulating these … Read more

Winter 2019-20

Supporting disadvantaged families through free early education and childcare entitlements

This study is part of the National Audit Office’s programme of work on services for children. It will focus on whether the Department for Education supports disadvantaged families and children effectively through the provision of entitlements to free early education and childcare. The study will cover the three entitlements funded by the Department for Education … Read more

Early 2020

Defence capabilities: delivering what was promised

The Ministry of Defence’s (the Department) need to deliver new defence capabilities quickly and in full is becoming more urgent due to pressures on resources and rapid developments in technology. Failure to deliver will see capability gaps, overextended use of old assets and extra costs from delays to delivery. Delivering a capability is about more … Read more

Early 2020

Fraud and error – managing the income risk

The level of fraud and error in benefit expenditure, excluding the State Pension, in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has led to the Department’s accounts being qualified for more than 30 years, yet fraud and error rates are at their highest ever.   The DWP has put in place an updated counter-fraud and … Read more

Spring 2020

Cost of preparations for the UK’s exit from the EU

By June 2019 HM Treasury had allocated £4.5bn to departments to fund preparations for the UK’s exit from the European Union in the period 2016-17 to 2019-20. This includes preparations should the UK leave without a deal. Departments have also allocated resources out of existing budgets. Our work on EU Exit to date has examined … Read more

Spring 2020

The use of digital technology in the NHS

The Department of Health & Social Care (the Department) and the NHS have published plans to use digital technology to help transform the way the NHS works. This study will consider whether the Department and the NHS have developed a workable strategy to deliver their ambitions on digital technology and data; whether they understand the … Read more

Spring 2020

Managing PFI assets and services as contracts end

The Private Finance Initiative (PFI), first introduced in the 1990s, engaged the private sector to design, finance, build and maintain public infrastructure projects, such as a school, hospital or road. In return, the government makes annual payments to the private contractor over the life of the contract, typically 25-30 years. Currently, there are over 700 … Read more

Early 2020

NHS nursing workforce

Getting the right NHS workforce in place is essential to deliver safe, high quality services as well as future service commitments as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. Nurses constitute the largest NHS clinical staff group, but have also been subject to the largest shortfalls.  The study will examine how the NHS ensures that … Read more