The creation of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Departmental Annual Report 2008-09 - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  We agree with the Permanent Secretary that the Department has 'logic in its structure', with significant potential benefits to the further and higher education sector. Given the economic climate, the main challenge for the Department will be to strike the right balance between the short-term immediate priorities of helping businesses through the recession and the longer term priorities of ensuring that the higher and further education sectors are able both to flourish and to equip the future workforce with the skills that businesses need. (Paragraph 12)

2.  We note the Permanent Secretary's assurances that the new Department has been created with a minimum of disruption. However, any departmental restructuring has an impact, in the short term, on policy implementation, as resources are diverted to manage that change. The Permanent Secretary acknowledged that "stability" was one of the main risks facing the Department. Given the degree of departmental change experienced in the Department and its predecessor Departments in recent years, we believe that a sustained period of stability in the Department's structure would be in the interests of all policy areas in its remit. (Paragraph 21)

3.  Furthermore, we are encouraged by the fact that the initial costs of the merger will be met by existing budgets. (Paragraph 22)

4.  Managing the Department's large number of delivery partners represents a significant risk. We welcome the Department's review of its relationships with its delivery partners. We look forward to receiving early sight of the recommendations arising out of that review and details of the Department's plans for their implementation. (Paragraph 26)

5.  We look forward to considering the Department's new DSOs and indicators when they are published in the Department's Autumn Performance Report. (Paragraph 30)

6.  We commend the (former BERR) Department for being one of the first to produce its resource accounts together with its Departmental Report in 2008-09 (BERR's Annual Report and Accounts 2008-09). We look forward to the new Department producing a combined Departmental Report with resource accounts for 2009-10. (Paragraph 33)

7.  We welcome the fact that the Department has now lowered the limit of the Automotive Assistance Scheme from £5 million to £1 million, in line with the Committee's recommendation. (Paragraph 36)

8.  While we are aware of the apparent success of the scrappage scheme, and while we appreciate the fact that negotiations to agree loans and loan guarantees with car companies can be complex and time-consuming, the absence of a single loan or loan guarantee from a scheme which was heralded as "a further £2.3 billion package of loan guarantees" is disappointing. The Government needs to expedite its negotiations, and prove to us and the automotive industry that the Automotive Assistance Programme can provide tangible benefits to the industry. (Paragraph 40)

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