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posted 3 Jun 2019, 02:31 by Peter Webb

 Your MP won't bother to account to you but here is non-political factual stuff meant for you as well as Parliament. Have a look. Be brave. Explore. Don't swallow all at once. Get familiar with the document construction. These 2017-18 Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) 2017-18: were published by Her Majesty's Treasury on 23rd May advanced by 6 months from last year. A further 6 months at least and they will emerge into the land of the living.

2 They have been  sent to me straight away by my Director contact at the NAO replying to my letter of 29th April attached to the 7th May STAG UPDATE. 

3 They cover the whole range and extent of government's managerial responsiility. According to the effectiveness of that management additional resources can be won without borrowing. 

4 There is no budget comparison yet to fully enrich and transform  appreciation of issues and your informed judgements. 

5 Note tasters such as Stonehenge in our balance sheet;  pass over our ownership of the Royal Bank of Scotland; shudder at MOD records being audit failed yet again; see  government pensions liabilities in context, and much more….. 

6  Key numbers are attached on the single page summary as before. More preliminary reactions are:

·                Note the screaming clash of priorities in comparing debt interest (£44bn) and defence (£37bn). The total debt, not all interest bearing, has almost doubled in 10 years to £4,579trillion.

·                NAO Director Elaine Lewis has also kindly sent me links to key PAC Reports indicating the Parliamentary  dialogue with the Treasury and progress towards the goal of a working financial control system. Many references now indicate 'point taken' but not from political leadership and Parties.

·                Indicative also in my mind is that 2-3 years ago there were said to be c6000 entities to be consolidated. Last year that had increased to c7000. I have just now seen reference to 8000!. That is so revealing of the historical backwardness of government.

·                No-one takes titular responsibility on behalf of the Government for these Accounts by signature, otherwise normal practice. Also, as pointed out last year, that means  no formal presentation and accountability to Parliament who get only a  "lay before". This confirms my unchallenged assertion that there is no Managerial Head of Government and Attendant Civil Service. In contrast the Auditor signs his Report with those Accounts. In my mind this is another manifestation of undemocratic even rotting government underlying the public disillusion with internally clashing tribal politics, the old main Parties, and the brexit shambles. 

7 In passing but relevant I have been alerted from India under the heading "What is Vote On Account? Let's understand it." Discussed is the the historical muddle (arising in the Raj era?) of unsynchronised legal and operational decision processes of financial reporting, budgeting, tax raising legislation, spending and so on. To the extent that we may be trying to rationalise all the 'heartbeat' timetables and Parliamentary protocols there is much still to be worked out for UK such as synchronisation of public report with elections. But attitudes and understanding are slow to change. This is even more  important now that we are faced by brexit and beyond, and threatening confidence damage to the Constitution. That the economically competitive environment becomes centre stage is also threatening as indicated in the headline on 29th May "UK falls out of top 20 league of competitive economies". Our governors must get a grip under a strong patriotic leader.

Peter Webb,
3 Jun 2019, 02:31