Latest Public Sector News

10.01.19

‘Don’t cry when things go wrong’: NAO finds ‘unacceptable’ levels of financial weakness across public bodies

An “unacceptably high” number of public bodies have significant financial weaknesses and are failing to provide taxpayers with value for money, Whitehall’s spending watchdog has warned.

Of nearly 1,000 councils, NHS, police, and fire bodies examined by the National Audit Office (NAO), 208 (22%) were found to have “significant weaknesses” in their financial health in 2017-18, a figure which is steadily increasing.

Auditors have offered “qualified conclusions,” a judgement that finances are “seriously wrong,” at 8% of local government bodies last year, and at 18% of county or unitary councils.

The spending watchdog said the number of public bodies with “significant weaknesses in their arrangements for delivering value for money for taxpayers is unacceptably high and increasing.”

Its report stated that given increasing financial and demand pressures, local bodies must take prompt and effective action to improve performance and strengthen financial arrangements where issues have been raised.

The auditor warned that the proportion of bodies with insufficient plans or significant weaknesses in their governance is not only too high, but also pose a risk to public money and could undermine confidence in the management of local services.

NHS trusts and CCGs performed even worse than local government, with 38% of NHS bodies producing financial statements that were cause for concern. The NAO’s head, Sir Amyas Morse, stated he was “shocked at the persistent high level of qualified audit report at local public bodies.”

“A qualification is a judgement that something is seriously wrong, but despite these continued warnings, the number of bodies receiving qualifications is trending upwards,” he said. “Let us hear no cries of ‘where were the auditors?’ when things go wrong. The answer will be ‘they did the job, but you weren’t listening.’

“This is not good enough; local bodies need to address their weaknesses, and departments across government should ensure they are challenging local bodies to demonstrate how they are responding.”

 

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the open more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Government accountability: A year in crises

15/01/2019Government accountability: A year in crises

From Windrush to Univerisal Credit: the Institute for Government’s (I... more >
Rethinking public-private partnerships

15/01/2019Rethinking public-private partnerships

Trinley Walker, senior policy researcher at the New Local Government Networ... more >

interviews

Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welco... more >

the raven's daily blog

Blog: 5 minutes with Dr Tracy Vell MBE, Associate Lead for Primary and Community Care, Greater Manchester, Health and Social Care Partnership.

17/01/2019Blog: 5 minutes with Dr Tracy Vell MBE, Associate Lead for Primary and Community Care, Greater Manchester, Health and Social Care Partnership.

Ahead of next month’s EvoNorth event we caught up with Dr Tracy Vell MBE, Associate Lead for Primary and Community Care, Greater Manchester, Health and Social Care Partner... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >