Throughout 2011-12 we have followed announcements on public expenditure from the Department for Transport, culminating in the new transport projects announced in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's autumn statement. We commend the department for simplifying the way in which it presents financial information so that it is now possible to compare future plans with past outturns. However, we recommend that more information should be published about in-year changes to budgets.
We note that the department's underspend for 2010-11 was larger than the cuts to its budget during the year. We recommend that the department could do more to ensure that its expenditure plans involve a fair allocation of resources across the nation and we seek information about how the department's funding of the Regional Growth and Growing Places Funds has been used.
Although we welcome the additional investment in road and rail infrastructure projects announced in the autumn statement we have some concerns about how the projects were chosen. We recommend that the new rail schemes be regarded as additional to those which the Government will agree to fund as part of planning for the 2014-19 rail spending period.
Finally, we are critical of the thin account of the department's performance in its annual report for 2010-11. There is no agreed way of measuring the department's performance which again highlights the absence of a strategy for transport. We again recommend that the Government publish such a strategy.