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The costly and debt fuelling flaw or design fault becomes ever clearer

posted 7 Jan 2017, 06:44 by Peter Webb

It is not being tackled because no office door marked  ‘government’  can be found:Two very recent PAC (Public Accounts Committee) Reports are consistent with the observation that (a) there is no proper financial and budgetary  control system in place, (b) the NAO(National Audit Office) is not invited to recommend a Cabinet reporting protocol, and (c) Parliament has not succeeded at that interface to secure antiquated Treasury overhaul.

 A PAC Report No 27 of 23rd November 2016 Managing government spending and performance opens with "There has been some progress in the way that government plans and manages business across departments. However there is not yet an adequate approach in place to support achievement of government objectives and safeguard value for money across government. Significant improvement is needed to address the deep-seated problems that prevent government measuring performance and linking outcomes in funding - which is ultimately taxpayers' money." But it is not clear who or what is "government" and who is supposed to direct the necessary "improvement".

The PAC Report no 32 of 18th December 2016  Devolution in England: Governance, financial accountability and following the taxpayer pound is equally critical. It is even reported that in some quarters there is little understanding of what is being talked about. The phrase ‘headless chickens’ comes to mind. Recorded in somewhat formless panel  discussion all at taxpayers’ expense are sprinkled overworked words: “Value for Money” (in reality the opinion of the spender); “scrutiny” (looking for what?); “accountability” (‘reporting up’ with objectives and outcomes to the fore is better).

 Meanwhile wasted time and uncontrolled debt piles up . In many quarters there seems an unspoken awareness of a hapless but untouchable Treasury. Noted on p 309 of The Blunders of our governments  was what was divulged about the Treasury to Anthony King and Ivor Crewe in 2013-14. In 2013 I wrote with pieces of evidence by the hand of my MP to The First Lord of the Treasury Who will mend UK government? But this was intercepted and a different question answered over the signature of the then Treasury Minister Sajid Dravid.