Excess votes 2020–21: Serious Fraud Office – Report Summary

This is a House of Commons Committee report, with recommendations to government. The Government has two months to respond.

Author: Committee of Public Accounts

Related inquiry: Excess votes 2020-21: Serious Fraud Office

Date Published: 22 February 2022

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The Committee of Public Accounts scrutinises, on behalf of Parliament, the reasons individual departments exceeded their allocated resources, and reports to the House of Commons on whether it has any objection to the amounts needed to rectify the reported excesses.

In 2020–21, the Local Government Boundary Commission for England breached its Resource Annually Managed Expenditure Limit by £53,000 against a limit of £0. The breach was as a result of the Commission needing to recognise a provision relating to office accommodation which was not foreseen in time to include within the Supplementary Estimates as the Commission believed its remaining Resource Departmental Expenditure budget would accommodate any provision.

In 2020–21, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was authorised a Non-Budget provision of £10 million but reported Non-Budget expenditure of £151.89 million, breaching the authorised limit by £141.89 million. This was because of the correction of a prior period error in valuing the liability arising from Reservoir Operating Agreements.

In 2020–21, the Serious Fraud Office exceeded its Resource Annual Managed Expenditure limit of £1 million by £2.55 million as a result of the SFO being directed in April 2021 by the courts to settle the legal costs in respect of a particular case. As this liability was an adjusting event after the financial reporting period, the SFO was unable to seek additional Resource Annually Managed Expenditure through the Supplementary Estimates process.

On the basis of our examination of the reasons why these bodies exceeded their voted provisions, we have no objection to Parliament providing the necessary amounts by means of an Excess Vote.