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

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

14/11/2019Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

Public Sector Executive’s Matt Roberts explains how living in a modern, interconnected world, as we do, means public sector organisations cannot afford to ignore the rol... 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 >