Administration and expenditure of the Chancellor's departments, 2007-08 - Treasury Contents


The Treasury Group's own resources

The economic situation is placing ever increasing demands on the Treasury Group. We question whether continued staff reductions will leave the Group able to deliver all that is expected of it. The transactions with the nationalised and part-nationalised banks raise accounting issues which we encourage the Treasury to discuss with the National Audit Office in order to ensure that the Group's 2008-09 Annual Report and Accounts can be laid together prior to the summer adjournment.

The Treasury as a central department

In order to aid public scrutiny, we recommend that the Treasury's future Departmental Reports include information on the performance of the nationalised banks. Similarly, we call upon the Government to publish an annual report on performance indicators for UK Financial Investments (UKFI). We note progress made toward implementing International Financial Reporting Standards for the Government's accounts. We note the work being undertaken to improve the transparency of Government Estimates and accounts and we encourage the Treasury to consider ways in which the revised documents might best facilitate parliamentary scrutiny.

The work of the Debt Management Office

The Debt Management Office (DMO) is facing a substantial increase in its forecast gilt issuance levels due to the financing requirements of the Government's fiscal stimulus and we recommend that the Government reviews the resource requirement of the DMO in light of this. We recommend that the Government puts in place contingency plans should the DMO face a series of uncovered auctions.

The Treasury Group's performance against objectives

The Treasury Group has reported 'slippage' against three of its ten PSAs. We recommend that improvements be made to the measurement of regional economic growth. We note that the Government continues to slip against its target to halve child poverty by 2010 and recommend that the Government improves the clarity of its disclosures against this target. We are concerned that the Lisbon goals no longer feature in any PSA and we call upon the Government to continue to report annually against them.

HM Revenue and Customs

We note the substantial changes to HMRC senior management in recent times. We are concerned that the payment made to one outgoing staff member was unnecessarily generous. In order to create stability and clear accountability within HMRC we recommend that all outstanding senior management positions are filled as soon as possible and invite HMRC to publicise the respective lines of responsibility for its top members of staff. We recommend that HMRC discloses the financial case for the closure of individual offices to allow for proper public scrutiny of these figures. We note performance short-comings by PFI providers of maintenance and IT services and recommend that financial compensation from the businesses involved is obtained.

The work of the Valuation Office Agency

The most significant issue for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is its handling of the ports revaluation. We recommend that the VOA reflect on the consequences of the deficiencies in its communications and that the Government takes into account the position of those Port Occupiers who have already made significant payments to the Port Operators towards business rates. In light of the failings of the VOA and the clear evidence that many businesses will be forced to declare themselves insolvent even under these revised arrangements, we recommend that the Government takes further steps to mitigate the position of ports businesses.

The work of the Government Actuary's Department

We recommend that the Government Actuary's Department (GAD) takes steps to improve its budgetary process. We recommend that the Government ensures all bonus schemes are performance-related. We recommend that the new Government Actuary examines the valuation of miners' pensions. Finally, we trust that the Government Actuary will acknowledge the implications of the Equitable Life situation for GAD's reputation.

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Prepared 23 January 2009