1 Introduction |
1. Government spendinghow much money is
spent on which activities and projects and how decisions are taken
to determine prioritiesis an issue at the heart of British
politics. It is especially significant during a time of austerity,
when the focus is on where to make cuts and the impact these might
have on service provision, public welfare and employment. The
Government's Spending Review in autumn 2010 was unprecedented
in modern times in envisaging at least five years of austerity,
in order to reduce the budget deficit. The impact of the Spending
Review on transport has underpinned several of our inquiries and
in January 2011 we published a strategy for financial scrutiny
of the Department for Transport (DfT).
This report is the first in what we intend will be a series of
financial scrutiny reports arising from that strategy. We comment
on what has happened to the DfT's budget since the Spending Review,
the department's business plan and its annual report.
2. We are also taking this opportunity to follow
up some of the recommendations we made in our report Transport
and the Economy which was published in March 2011.
This report's recommendations on the appraisal of transport projects
and the wider strategic context are particularly relevant in the
light of the host of new road and rail projects approved by the
DfT as part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's autumn economic
statement in November.
3. Throughout the last year we have corresponded
with the DfT on its financial announcements. We also took oral
evidence from Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, the Secretary of State
for Transport, and Lin Homer, then Permanent Secretary, on the
work of the DfT on 19 October and from the Secretary of State
and Steve Gooding, a senior official, on the autumn economic statement
on 14 December. We publish all of this material with this report.
We acknowledge the assistance we received from the House of Commons
Scrutiny Unit in analysing financial information for us and drawing
our attention to the salient issues.
1 Financial scrutiny of the Department for Transport,
Second Report, Session 2010-12, HC 683 (hereafter Financial
Transport and the economy, Third Report, Session 2010-12,
HC 473 (hereafter Transport and the economy). Back