Future PSA targets
33. Under the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) 2007, these
seven PSA targets were replaced by four new ones that narrow down
the focus further, to road (two targets), rail and project management.
The 2007 CSR covers spending allocations from 2008-09 to 2010-11.
The Department will also support the work of other departments
in delivering PSAs related to housing supply and regional economic
Rail PSA target
34. The new rail PSA target (third indicator of PSA 5)
focuses on capacity and crowding on the network - it does not
address reliability and punctuality. Although capacity is an increasingly
salient issue, it will be of little comfort to passengers if they
trade a situation where they can stand aboard a punctual train
for one where they are able to find a seat on a train which is
late. We are concerned that the Department for Transport appears
to have lost interest in rail punctuality and reliability. The
PSA targets on punctuality and reliability have not been met,
so there can be little justification for dropping the target.
A loss of focus in this area might lead to a reversal in such
progress as has been made in the past five years.
Roads PSA targets
35. The new roads PSA targets focus on urban journey times
as well as reliability on strategic roads. They largely reprise
the previous PSA targets in these areas. The new strategic roads
indicator is the
same as the previous PSA target for strategic roads, i.e. to improve
reliability of journeys on the strategic road network. This is
not a very ambitious target, though the DfT has failed to deliver
it so far (see below). The new urban roads indicator focuses on
journey times, as did the previous urban roads PSA target. As
this has not been assessed so far, it is difficult to comment
on the worth of this target.
36. The Minister has expressed the view that
the Department must be both economic and green.
In light of this, the absence of an explicit 'green' indicator
from the department's new PSA targets is a matter of concern.
The Department's success or failure will be judged largely
on the basis of its achievement of the PSA targets for which it
has lead responsibility. There is a clear risk that the Minister's
stated ambitions for synergy between economic and green imperatives
in the Department's operations will fall by the wayside.
37. The Minister stated that "using
the Eddington framework we have three major priorities in this
country. One is to improve our inter-urban networks between cities.
The other is to improve our international gateways. The other
is to improve mobility within our cities". This set of priorities
does not map across to the new PSA targets in a self-evident manner.
The two roads indicators clearly do, but none of the new indicators
link directly to the objective of improving international gateways.
38. We are concerned that the Department's
approach to its new PSA targets lacks clarity. The new targets
do not address the issues raised by the Eddington study in any
obvious manner. In our judgement, there is no clear link between
the new PSA targets and the Eddington priorities.
39. The Department will also have supporting
responsibilities for two further PSA targets, no. 7 (Improve the
economic performance of all English regions and reduce the gap
in economic growth rates between regions) and no. 20 (Increase
long-term housing supply and affordability).
BERR (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform)
and CLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) respectively
are taking the lead on these two targets. The Department for
Transport has been unable to clarify the manner in which it will
contribute towards meeting the PSA targets in which it has a supporting
role. The lack of clarity concerns the budget that the DfT intends
to allocate as well as changes in strategy and approach. There
is a real risk that responsibility for delivering the Department
for Transport's element of these joint PSA targets will be too
diffuse, undermining performance and accountability.
Future Departmental Funding and
40. In addition to setting targets, the 2007
Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) also set a budget for the
three years from 2008-09. Under the 2007 CSR, the Department's
budget will be boosted by a rate of real growth of 2.1% a year
on average. Given the current constraints on public expenditure
this is a reasonable increase, indicating the importance of transport
to the overall success of the UK, as noted by the Secretary of
State: "As Sir Rod Eddington's report argued, a well functioning
transport system is vital to the continued success of the UK economy
and our quality of life". We are concerned, however, that
this spending will be concentrated in the capital. Major infrastructure
improvements in London, such as Crossrail, are likely to have
strong benefit to cost ratios because London's economy is strong,
and the implication is that such projects will be favoured. We
are concerned that the fourth indicator of the DfT's new PSA target,
to "deliver reliable and efficient transport networks that
support economic growth" could result in a very narrow perspective
on transport investment. We recommend that, when allocating investment
funds, the Department gives due consideration to factors beyond
the absolute value of improvements in terms of economic performance
and growth. It is important, for example, that the Department
should take equally seriously its supporting role in regional
Development PSA targets.
41. By 2010-11 DfT will be spending £14.5
billion of public money. It is important in this context that
the Department does not lose its focus on delivering efficiency
savings to ensure that the highest possible level of service and
investment is maintained. The requirement that future efficiency
savings should all be "cashable"capable of being
quantified in cash termsshould not lead to a reduction
in the achievement of non-cashable savings where these are possible.
31 The number of Departmental PSA targets held are
as follows: CO 3, DCMS 4, MoJ ?, MoD 6, HO 7, DfT 7, ODPM 8, DoH
8, FCO 9, Defra 9, DWP 10, HMT 10, DBERR ?, DfEF ?, DIUS ?. Back
Autumn Performance Report 2007, page 5. Back
Transport Committee, Fourth Report of Session 2006-07, Department
for Transport Annual Report 2006, HC 95, page 6 Back
PSA Delivery Agreement 5, 'Deliver reliable and efficient transport
networks that support economic growth', p.5, available at www.hm-treasury.gov.uk.
'Meeting the aspirations of the British people', 2007 Pre-Budget
Report and Comprehensive Spending Review, Cm 7227, pp 189, 193 Back