COVID-19 cost tracker update

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

Thirty-Eighth Report of Session 2021–22

Author: Committee of Public Accounts

Related inquiry: Covid-19: Cost tracker update (+ Spending Review)

Date Published: 23 February 2022

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Contents

Introduction

Shortly after the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic on 11 March 2020, government began announcing a series of measures to support public services, workers and businesses. To make decisions and disburse funding more quickly, government relaxed the usual rules over the management of public money and took on significant financial risks which will have implications for future spending decisions. The National Audit Office (NAO) has been collecting and publishing information on the government’s COVID-19 response measures on the NAO website in its COVID-19 cost tracker (the cost tracker). The first iteration of the cost tracker was published in September 2020. The NAO updated the cost tracker in January 2021, May 2021 and, most recently, in September 2021. In May 2021, we took evidence on the cost tracker and subsequently published our report COVID 19 Cost Tracker Update, making eight recommendations to government about: the importance of continuing to capture the costs of the pandemic; how an approach similar to that taken by the NAO for the cost-tracker could apply to other large cross-government programmes; and learning lessons from the pandemic.

The cost tracker presents the measures implemented by government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the estimated lifetime cost of these measures, and how much has been spent to date. The cost tracker also captures the total value of loans government expects to guarantee or issue, the value of loans guaranteed or issued by government so far and the total amount government estimates that it will lose as a result of loans that it does not expect will be repaid (write-offs). In September 2021, the cost tracker showed that the total cost of government’s measures was estimated to be £370 billion, of which £261 billion was reported as having been spent. The total value of loans guaranteed or issued by government so far was estimated to be £129 billion, and the total amount of money associated with these loan schemes that is expected to be written-off was estimated at £21 billion.

Conclusions and recommendations

1. The COVID-19 cost tracker has increased transparency and helped hold government to account for its funding commitments and spending to date. In September 2021, the NAO published the fourth iteration of the COVID-19 cost tracker, setting out the cumulative costs of government’s response to COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, the cost tracker has demonstrated the importance and value of capturing and sharing timely data on government’s actions and costs. We have used the information provided in the cost tracker to inform our work looking at departments’ responses to COVID-19 and to hold them to account for their performance during the pandemic. The format of a single, comprehensive and updateable dataset covering all cross-government spending relating to a single theme has been a useful tool for monitoring the spending of taxpayers’ money. It is essential that the strengths of the cost tracker’s format are replicated in future government reporting. We previously recommended that government consider using a similar technique to monitor other areas of thematic spend, such as Net Zero. While HM Treasury recognises the helpful role the NAO’s cost tracker has played in improving the transparency of the cost of COVID-19 and its role as the definitive source of information on the associated costs, it has not outlined how it will use the cost tracker model to inform its approach to monitoring and reporting on costs in future.

Recommendation: As part of its Treasury Minute response, HM Treasury should explain how the strengths it identified from the cost tracker approach, including transparency and accessibility, can be applied to the presentation of other thematic areas of public spending.

2. We are concerned that HM Treasury does not intend to adequately monitor and update the ongoing cost of COVID-19 to the taxpayer. Monitoring the forecast costs and actual spend related to COVID-19 is crucial for Parliamentary scrutiny and for holding departments to account for their use of taxpayers’ money. The cost-tracker has enabled Parliament and the public to have full visibility over what government has spent and committed to spend in response to the pandemic and the financial risks to the public purse. Government estimates that it will lose £21 billion as a result of loans that it does not expect will be repaid. HM Treasury will know more about how much will be lost in connection to these loan schemes over time as more repayment data is received. HM Treasury has committed to conduct a routine review of material changes to the estimated costs, including updating the costs associated with the COVID-19 loan schemes and some public services measures, where these can be reliably attributed to COVID-19. However, it has not specified which elements of government’s response to the pandemic will be included in these updates, what will constitute material changes to estimated costs, or how the costs of those elements which are excluded will continue to be monitored and Departments held to account for spending taxpayers’ money. From 2022–23 onwards, funding to tackle issues arising from COVID-19 will not be ring-fenced. Some of the costs currently included in the cost tracker will form part of departments’ ongoing activities.

Recommendation: As part of its Treasury Minute response, HM Treasury should explain how, when, and which subsets of the data captured by the NAO in the COVID-19 cost tracker it will continue to update. This should also address how loan book commitments, including those made under the Culture Recovery Fund, and any associated liabilities, such as estimated write-off costs under the Bounce Back Loans Scheme, will be monitored.

3. HM Treasury does not yet know how much money has been lost to fraud and error across government’s response to COVID-19. Our previous work on government’s response to COVID-19 has revealed that the risk of fraud and error to public finances has risen substantially during the pandemic. As a result, government is likely to be exposed to significant financial risk. Some of the larger COVID-19 measures are likely to lose large sums of taxpayers’ money to fraud and error. For example, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is estimated to lose £5.3 billion to fraud and error – equating to 8.7% of the funding distributed through the scheme. HM Treasury asserts that it has increased its investment in the detection and recovery of fraud and expects this to have a significant return. However, HM Treasury is not able to put a figure to the expected return on investment or the amount of fraud and error across the breadth of government’s response to COVID-19. Given that the increased risk of fraud and error could cost the taxpayer billions of pounds, it is crucial that HM Treasury can identify, estimate the volume of, and attempt to recover, funding that was distributed in error or through fraudulent claims.

Recommendation: HM Treasury should write to the committee by the end of the financial year with its estimate of:

  • how much taxpayers’ money has been lost to fraud and error within schemes introduced in response to the pandemic; and
  • how much it expects will be recovered for each pound it spends doing so.

4. HM Treasury has not set out what lessons it has learnt from the government’s response to COVID-19 and how it will apply these in future. The pandemic required government to respond rapidly to emerging issues across all areas of society. It is essential that government learns from its response to the pandemic and identifies what it should do to ensure that those lessons are applied, both to improve its ability to respond to emergencies, and to improve its business-as-usual service delivery. Departments cannot wait until the public inquiry, which may take some years to complete, to learn the lessons from government’s handling of the pandemic. HM Treasury agreed that it is now an appropriate time to undertake a lessons learned exercise covering the whole of government’s initial response to the pandemic. The sooner this exercise takes place, the quicker departments can embed the lessons they have learned in their practices and guidance.

Recommendation: HM Treasury should write to the committee by the end of the financial year setting out:

  • what it has learned from the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • what action it is taking to identify and collate learning from across government departments.

1 The cost of the pandemic to the taxpayer

1. Based on the fourth iteration of the COVID-19 cost tracker (the cost tracker) published by the Comptroller and Auditor General in September 2021, we took evidence from HM Treasury about the costs of government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.1 In May 2021, we took evidence from HM Treasury on the third iteration of the cost tracker (published by the Comptroller and Auditor General in May 2021) as part of our series of inquiries into the pandemic.2

2. COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020, shortly thereafter government began to announce a series of measures to support public services, workers and businesses. Since then, the National Audit Office (NAO) has collected information on the government’s measures that address COVID-19 and its effects. In its initial report Overview of the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NAO estimated that the total cost of government’s measures was £124 billion at May 2020.3 Subsequently, the NAO has collated and presented this information in a published database; the COVID-19 cost tracker, and updated it every four months. The cost tracker captures the range of government measures introduced in response to the pandemic, categorised by the lead department and nature of the measure. Where data are available, it presents the relevant department’s estimate for the total cost of the measure, and how much has been spent on the measure to date. The cost tracker also captures the costs involved with the government’s different loan schemes introduced to support business and other organisations during the pandemic. Some loans have been provided directly but the largest estimated cost is associated with government guarantees on loans provided to qualifying businesses by banks (for example the Bounce Back Loan Scheme provided by high street banks or the Covid Corporate Financing Facility run by the Bank of England). The table below shows the reported figures at each publication of the cost tracker.4

Estimated lifetime cost of government’s COVID-19 measures (£ billions)

Amount reported spent on government’s COVID-19 measures (£billions)

Estimated total volume of loans expected to be guaranteed or issued by government (£billions)

Volume of loans reported guaranteed or issued by government (£ billions)

Estimated cost that the government will be required to fund either through reimbursing banks due to loan guarantee mechanisms or direct defaults on the government’s loans
(£ billions)

September 2020

210

70

-

-

17

January 2021

271

116

94

89

31

May 2021

372

172

100

92

26

September 2021

370

261

134

129

21

3. According to the latest update of the cost tracker, in September 2021 government estimated that its measures addressing the COVID-19 pandemic will cost £370 billion, £2 billion less than the £372 billion estimate published in the cost tracker’s May 2021 update. Of the £370 billion estimated cost, government has spent £261 billion, an increase of £89 billion since the cost tracker’s previous update. The cost tracker also captures the total value of loans guaranteed or issued by government, the total amount government estimates that it will lose because of loans that it does not expect will be repaid (write-offs), and how much money it has written-off because of these loan schemes so far. In the September 2020 cost tracker, the estimated total volume of loans expected to be guaranteed or issued by government and the volume of loans reported to be guaranteed or issued by government was not captured.5

Transparency and accountability

4. We previously examined the cost tracker and government’s spending in response to the pandemic in May 2021. In our report in July 2021, we concluded that the cost tracker showed the importance and value of capturing, sharing and presenting timely data on government’s actions and costs during a crisis. We noted that HM Treasury had acknowledged how valuable the cost tracker was in documenting and understanding government’s costs in responding to the pandemic. We recommended that HM Treasury write to us to explain how it will monitor the cost of other large cross-government programmes that would benefit from an approach similar to the cost tracker, such as the drive to achieve net-zero greenhouse emissions.6 In its response, HM Treasury accepted our recommendation and committed to writing to us by the end of the year detailing the structures it uses to monitor the costs of other large cross-government programmes.7 The Department wrote to us in December 2021, and told us that it was committed to transparency in public expenditure, and that it published a “wide range of data covering spending already incurred and plans for future spending”. These included: Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis; thematic funding data reported in the Budget and Spending review documents, for example those on net-zero and COVID-19 funding included in 2021; the Government Major Projects Portfolio; Departments’ Annual Reports & Accounts; and Other publications such as the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline. However, it did not outline how it planned to integrate the positive attributes of the cost tracker to further increase transparency and accountability around other large areas of spending.8

5. In our evidence session on 17th November 2021, we observed that the cost tracker had supported Parliamentary scrutiny of departments and enabled us to hold government to account.9 We have found the model used in the cost tracker very useful, and it has helped in the ongoing exercise of monitoring COVID-19 spending.10 We asked HM Treasury whether it planned to use a similar model to the cost tracker in future to track other areas of spending. HM Treasury told us that it was still looking at whether it would use a model similar to the cost tracker to monitor other areas of thematic spend, such as the transition towards a net zero economy. HM Treasury said that the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy and public finances, meant that it was easier to identify the public spending implications of it than would be the case in other situations. For example, it told us that the banking crisis some 12 years ago was “also an enormous shock” and that it was difficult to attribute particular fiscal pressures to the banking crisis because it required disentangling lost tax revenue and additional public spending. It told us that most net zero related spending will also be designed to achieve other objectives, so it would be difficult to determine what is being spent on one objective or another. HM Treasury recognised, however, that it needed to work out the best way to ensure it was accountable and “give a clear sense of what is being spent on what, in a way that is meaningful and helpful”.11

Monitoring the ongoing costs of COVID-19

6. We noted that the public inquiry into government’s handling of COVID-19 was due to start in the spring or summer of 2022, and that understanding how money was being spent was likely to be an important part of this inquiry. We therefore asked HM Treasury how it would ensure that this information was kept in good shape to allow for proper scrutiny and oversight about how government had handled the pandemic. HM Treasury explained that there were three elements to identifying the cost of COVID-19. The first is the direct public expenditure during the pandemic, which was captured by the cost tracker. Secondly, there would be ongoing costs to public services in the future which would not have happened were it not for the pandemic, which it told us was “easy to measure today … [but] gets harder to measure as time goes by”. It explained that the third element is the indirect cost due to the effect on the economy, jobs and businesses, and the effect of this on tax revenue, which it told us was much more difficult to answer.12

7. HM Treasury told us that, during the pandemic, it had made some very significant sums of money available at short notice in conditions of great uncertainty. This funding was ring-fenced so that, if it was not needed for the intended purpose, it would not be spent on other things.13 HM Treasury told us that there will not be separate ring-fenced COVID-19 expenditure for 2022–23 onwards. It suggested that bringing the tracker to a close at the end of 2021–22 was “probably the right thing to do” given the difficulties in distinguishing expenditure from this point.14 We therefore asked what its approach would be to programmes such as NHS Test and Trace and the vaccines programme, which would still be in place after 202122 and were clearly COVID-19-related costs. HM Treasury told us that while some ongoing costs, such as NHS Test and Trace and the vaccines programme, could reasonably be separately identified, it was increasingly difficult to distinguish costs due to COVID-19 from routine business costs.15 It gave the example of the backlog of cases within the criminal courts where HM Treasury asserted that the source of the backlog did not matter, what mattered was dealing with the backlog and that it had not ring-fenced any money specifically for COVID-19-related backlogs. It told us that this approach would provide departments with greater flexibility to deal with the circumstances they faced.16 HM Treasury said that it would keep the departmental allocations under review and respond to changes in the pandemic.17

8. HM Treasury told us that one element of the cost tracker it would definitely continue to monitor and report on was the cost of the various loan and grant schemes where the true cost will only be known over time.18 Government has guaranteed or issued loans worth a total of £129 billion during the pandemic. This comprises of loans issued through business support schemes such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, the Future Fund and the Covid Corporate Financing Facility.19 The September 2021 cost tracker reported that the government expected to lose £21 billion as a result of some loans issued or guaranteed by government not being repaid (write-offs).20 The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) produces estimates of write-offs that the government will be required to fund if loans it issued or guaranteed are not repaid. In October 2021, the OBR revised its estimate of the cost of write-offs for the 2020–21 financial year down to £21 billion from £26 billion in March 2021. This is partly because the economy is recovering better than expected but also due to some early repayment data.21

Scheme

Estimated total volume of loans expected to be guaranteed or issued by government (£ millions)

Volume of loans reported guaranteed or issued by government (£ million)

Expected cost of write-offs
(£ millions)

Bounce Back Loan Scheme

47,360

47,360

18,373

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

26,390

26,390

2,198

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

5,560

5,560

357

Future Fund

1,137

1,137

75

Recovery Loan Scheme

1,600

428

164

Total

82,047

80,875

21,167

9. Across government’s response to COVID-19, there are also other substantial loan books that have no estimated write-offs as at the September 2021 update to the cost tracker, but which government will have to manage until the loans are repaid. For example, as at the September 2021 update to the cost tracker, Arts Council England was responsible for £252 million of loans issued through the Culture Recovery Fund.22 We examined the Culture Recovery Fund in June 2021 and concluded that, as the largest ever single investment in the arts and culture sector, and with a typical 20-year term, these will require skilled oversight and careful management for years to come. We were concerned about the Department’s and Arts Council England’s ability to manage the significant and ongoing loan book commitments created by the Fund and recommended that the Department made sure it had the resources in place to take on the new responsibility for managing the loans.23

10. In its letter to us after our evidence session, HM Treasury recognised the helpful role that the NAO cost tracker has played in improving transparency on the cost of COVID-19, as well as its role as the definitive source of information on the public expenditure costs of the pandemic. It told us that it would conduct “a routine review of material changes to the estimated costs of these measures and provide public updates”. It confirmed that this would include updates to the estimated lifetime costs of loans and updated costs for some public services measures “where these can be reliably attributed to COVID-19”. It did not comment, however, on which measures this would include, what would constitute material changes to estimated costs, or what approach it would take to monitoring the costs of those measures that were not included in the updates.24

2 Fraud and error within pandemic spending

11. We examined fraud and error across government in 2021. We found that government had introduced many vital support schemes in response to the pandemic, but that these had substantially increased the risk of fraud and error to public finances and the taxpayer was expected to lose billions of pounds as a result. Between April 2020 and March 2021, fraud within Universal Credit rose to an all-time high of 14.5%. At the time of our previous evidence session, BEIS estimated that between 35% and 60% of loans issued through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme may not be repaid.25 HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are responsible for some of the schemes we identified as having the highest risk of fraud and error. Since our report in June 2021, all three departments have published their annual report and accounts for 2020–21, which provide an updated position on the estimated fraud against some of the largest COVID-19 measures. These show that at the end of March 2021, these three departments expected to lose £15.7 billion as a result of fraud and error within COVID-19 support schemes, with their estimated total losses ranging between £12.4 billion and £20.1 billion.26

Department and scheme

Estimated loss from COVID-19 support schemes

Lower estimate (£ millions)

Central estimate (£ millions)

Upper estimate
(£ millions)

Department for Work & Pensions & Universal Credit

3,850

HM Revenue & Customs & Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

4,065

5,279

7,281

HM Revenue & Customs & Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

355

493

631

HM Revenue & Customs & Eat Out to Help Out

43

71

99

Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy & Bounce Back Loan Scheme

3,615

4,944

6,725

Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy & Local Authority Grant Scheme (figures do not include all local authority grant schemes)

514

1,038

1,562

Total

12,442

15,675

20,148

12. We asked HM Treasury what its current assessment of fraud and error across government was, given the availability of the new data. HM Treasury told us that its upfront estimates on losses due to fraud and error were broadly in line with HMRC’s most likely scenario in its annual report and accounts for three of its measures: the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and Eat Out to Help Out (EOHO). It explained that this had helped HM Treasury validate its methodology for estimating fraud. For example, it had initially estimated that fraud within CJRS and EOHO would be between 5% and 10%. It told us that the most likely estimated of fraud within the schemes were 8.7% and 8.5% respectively. It similarly told us that this had allowed it to target funding in a more effective way when investing in counter-fraud activities.27

13. In our report in June 2021, we recommended that HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office set out how they would ensure that departments implemented a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and error following the pandemic and ensure taxpayers’ money was recovered.28 We therefore asked HM Treasury what it was doing to recover money which had been paid due to fraud or error. HM Treasury told us that it had “put a lot more of [its] investment in the detection and recovery side of [its] fraud activities”.29 It explained that as a result of recent investment, HM Revenue & Customs had over 1,200 people dedicated to collecting this money. It explained that it expected this investment to have a “significant return” but admitted that, although it was monitoring this regularly, it did not yet have a good enough sense of “what that would actually mean in pounds and pence”.30 It confirmed, however, that it would not write-off this money until it had “pursued every single opportunity to recover it”.31

3 Learning lessons from government’s response to COVID-19

14. The COVID-19 pandemic placed increased pressure on government departments to respond to a crisis while continuing to provide their business-as-usual services. The Comptroller and Auditor General told us that the NAO had now, for the most part, completed its examination of the initial schemes that were implemented at pace in response to the acute phase of the pandemic. He explained that in relation to the pandemic, the NAO was now examining longer-term issues such as the impact of backlogs in many public services and the recovery of fraudulent payments. He noted, however, that lessons can be drawn from these initial schemes, particularly regarding the trade-off between the need to act at speed, and control of public money and value for money.32

15. As part of our previous examination of the cost tracker in May 2021, we concluded that government’s ability to achieve value for money was compromised during the pandemic by poor quality impact assessments and Accounting Officer assessments.33 To address this, we recommended that HM Treasury should review major COVID-related spending decisions to identify cases where decisions made had resulted in poor value for money. We recommended that it should report its findings to us by the end of 2021, and use the lessons learnt to produce guidance to minimise the risk of this happening in future.34 HM Treasury shared a copy of its response to our recommendations with us ahead of our evidence session. In its response, HM Treasury disagreed with our recommendation. While HM Treasury agreed that lessons learnt from the pandemic should inform its future approach to similar situations, it asserted that maintaining a proper distinction of roles between Accounting Officers, HM Treasury and the NAO was the best way to do this.35

16. We therefore asked HM Treasury what it was doing to identify and address some of the issues raised by our and the NAO’s work examining the response to the pandemic, for example around the trade-offs between acting at speed and ensuring value-for-money.36 HM Treasury said that, although it had disagreed with our recommendation, it agreed that it should review major COVID-related spending decisions and “consider very carefully value for money”.37 It told us that it did not intend to carry out a full formal audit of all COVIDrelated expenditure and then reach a value-for-money judgement on all programmes. However, when we asked whether there was a process for assessing previous spending decisions and learning from them, it told us that ahead of new funding decisions, for example on NHS Test and Trace and the vaccines programme, it reviewed and learned lessons from departments’ previous spending.38

17. We examined the initial lessons that can be learned from government’s response to the pandemic in June 2021 based on 20 evidence sessions on various aspects of the government’s response. In our report, we set out our views on what government can learn from its response to the pandemic, what it should do to ensure that those lessons are applied, and what it should do to improve both its ability to respond to emergencies and its business-as-usual service delivery. We noted that the future public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic could take some years to complete, and that government could not wait for the review before learning important lessons.39

18. HM Treasury informed us that it had conducted a lessons learned exercise with Accounting Officers and it planned to update Managing Public Money in December 2021. It also told us that it had commissioned a Government Internal Audit Agency review of COVID-19 schemes.40 It explained that, six months into each financial year, it commissioned departments’ assessments of their forecasting so that it can monitor and evaluate forecasting across government.41 HM Treasury told us that COVID-19 had affected departments’ abilities to forecast accurately and that it was seeking to address the aspects of departments’ forecasting that need improving by providing forecasting standards and a forecasting toolkit to departments.42 It explained that it was already pulling together some lessons that could be learned from the government’s response to COVID-19. HM Treasury recognised that it should clearly identify and report to Parliament the lessons it had learned from the pandemic, and that it was now an appropriate time to share with us the common themes that it had identified from lessons learned exercises.43

19. We asked HM Treasury what it was doing to ensure that, if emergency support such as business support schemes or loans were needed in future, those responsible would have the information they needed to act quickly, informed by lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. HM Treasury explained that it was able to draw on lessons learned from the financial crisis of 2007–2009 when designing some of the COVID-19 schemes. In particular, HM Treasury said that it was useful to be able to draw on the design of measures used to address the effects of the financial crisis when it was designing the Covid Corporate Financing Facility, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. In contrast, it explained that there was no relevant precedent that HM Treasury could use to help design the Bounce Back Loan Scheme. As a result, HM Treasury recognised that there was a huge amount that could be learned from that scheme. We stressed that these lessons should be recorded in such a way that their usefulness does not depend on current HM Treasury staff being available when the lessons need to be drawn upon.44

Formal minutes

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Members present:

Dame Meg Hillier, in the Chair

Dan Carden

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Peter Grant

Sarah Olney

Kate Osamor

Nick Smith

COVID-19 cost tracker update

Draft Report (COVID-19 cost tracker update), proposed by the Chair, brought up and read.

Ordered, That the draft Report be read a second time, paragraph by paragraph.

Paragraphs 1 to 19 read and agreed to.

Summary agreed to.

Introduction agreed to.

Conclusions and recommendations agreed to.

Resolved, That the Report be the Thirty-eighth of the Committee to the House.

Ordered, That the Chair make the Report to the House.

Ordered, That embargoed copies of the Report be made available, in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order No. 134.

Adjournment

Adjourned till Monday 7 February at 3:30pm


Witnesses

The following witnesses gave evidence. Transcripts can be viewed on the inquiry publications page of the Committee’s website.

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Sir Tom Scholar, Permanent Secretary, HM Treasury; Cat Little, Director General Public Spending, HM Treasury; Conrad Smewing, Director Public Spending, HM TreasuryQ1–58


Published written evidence

The following written evidence was received and can be viewed on the inquiry publications page of the Committee’s website.

CCT numbers are generated by the evidence processing system and so may not be complete.

1 Equifax (CCT0002)

2 International Transport Workers Federation; and Unite the Union (CCT0003)

3 Local Government Association (LGA) (CCT0001)


List of Reports from the Committee during the current Parliament

All publications from the Committee are available on the publications page of the Committee’s website.

Session 2021–22

Number

Title

Reference

1st

Low emission cars

HC 186

2nd

BBC strategic financial management

HC 187

3rd

COVID-19: Support for children’s education

HC 240

4th

COVID-19: Local government finance

HC 239

5th

COVID-19: Government Support for Charities

HC 250

6th

Public Sector Pensions

HC 289

7th

Adult Social Care Markets

HC 252

8th

COVID 19: Culture Recovery Fund

HC 340

9th

Fraud and Error

HC 253

10th

Overview of the English rail system

HC 170

11th

Local auditor reporting on local government in England

HC 171

12th

COVID 19: Cost Tracker Update

HC 173

13th

Initial lessons from the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

HC 175

14th

Windrush Compensation Scheme

HC 174

15th

DWP Employment support

HC 177

16th

Principles of effective regulation

HC 176

17th

High Speed 2: Progress at Summer 2021

HC 329

18th

Government’s delivery through arm’s-length bodies

HC 181

19th

Protecting consumers from unsafe products

HC 180

20th

Optimising the defence estate

HC 179

21st

School Funding

HC 183

22nd

Improving the performance of major defence equipment contracts

HC 185

23rd

Test and Trace update

HC 182

24th

Crossrail: A progress update

HC 184

25th

The Department for Work and Pensions’ Accounts 2020–21 – Fraud and error in the benefits system

HC 633

26th

Lessons from Greensill Capital: accreditation to business support schemes

HC 169

27th

Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme

HC 635

28th

Efficiency in government

HC 636

29th

The National Law Enforcement Data Programme

HC 638

30th

Challenges in implementing digital change

HC 637

31st

Environmental Land Management Scheme

HC 639

32nd

Delivering gigabitcapable broadband

HC 743

33rd

Underpayments of the State Pension

HC 654

34th

Local Government Finance System: Overview and Challenges

HC 646

35th

The pharmacy early payment and salary advance schemes in the NHS

HC 745

36th

EU Exit: UK Border post transition

HC 746

37th

HMRC Performance in 2020–21

HC 641

1st Special Report

Fifth Annual Report of the Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts

HC 222

Session 2019–21

Number

Title

Reference

1st

Support for children with special educational needs and disabilities

HC 85

2nd

Defence Nuclear Infrastructure

HC 86

3rd

High Speed 2: Spring 2020 Update

HC 84

4th

EU Exit: Get ready for Brexit Campaign

HC 131

5th

University technical colleges

HC 87

6th

Excess votes 2018–19

HC 243

7th

Gambling regulation: problem gambling and protecting vulnerable people

HC 134

8th

NHS capital expenditure and financial management

HC 344

9th

Water supply and demand management

HC 378

10th

Defence capability and the Equipment Plan

HC 247

11th

Local authority investment in commercial property

HC 312

12th

Management of tax reliefs

HC 379

13th

Whole of Government Response to COVID-19

HC 404

14th

Readying the NHS and social care for the COVID-19 peak

HC 405

15th

Improving the prison estate

HC 244

16th

Progress in remediating dangerous cladding

HC 406

17th

Immigration enforcement

HC 407

18th

NHS nursing workforce

HC 408

19th

Restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster

HC 549

20th

Tackling the tax gap

HC 650

21st

Government support for UK exporters

HC 679

22nd

Digital transformation in the NHS

HC 680

23rd

Delivering carrier strike

HC 684

24th

Selecting towns for the Towns Fund

HC 651

25th

Asylum accommodation and support transformation programme

HC 683

26th

Department of Work and Pensions Accounts 2019–20

HC 681

27th

Covid-19: Supply of ventilators

HC 685

28th

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s management of the Magnox contract

HC 653

29th

Whitehall preparations for EU Exit

HC 682

30th

The production and distribution of cash

HC 654

31st

Starter Homes

HC 88

32nd

Specialist Skills in the civil service

HC 686

33rd

Covid-19: Bounce Back Loan Scheme

HC 687

34th

Covid-19: Support for jobs

HC 920

35th

Improving Broadband

HC 688

36th

HMRC performance 2019–20

HC 690

37th

Whole of Government Accounts 2018–19

HC 655

38th

Managing colleges’ financial sustainability

HC 692

39th

Lessons from major projects and programmes

HC 694

40th

Achieving government’s long-term environmental goals

HC 927

41st

COVID 19: the free school meals voucher scheme

HC 689

42nd

COVID-19: Government procurement and supply of Personal Protective Equipment

HC 928

43rd

COVID-19: Planning for a vaccine Part 1

HC 930

44th

Excess Votes 2019–20

HC 1205

45th

Managing flood risk

HC 931

46th

Achieving Net Zero

HC 935

47th

COVID-19: Test, track and trace (part 1)

HC 932

48th

Digital Services at the Border

HC 936

49th

COVID-19: housing people sleeping rough

HC 934

50th

Defence Equipment Plan 2020–2030

HC 693

51st

Managing the expiry of PFI contracts

HC 1114

52nd

Key challenges facing the Ministry of Justice

HC 1190

53rd

Covid 19: supporting the vulnerable during lockdown

HC 938

54th

Improving single living accommodation for service personnel

HC 940

55th

Environmental tax measures

HC 937

56th

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

HC 941


Footnotes

1 The COVID-19 cost tracker, available at: COVID-19 cost tracker - National Audit Office (NAO)

2 Committee of Public Accounts, COVID 19: Cost Tracker Update, Twelfth Report of Session 2021–22, HC 173, 25 July 2021

3 C&AG’s Report, Overview of the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Session 2019–21, HC 366, 21 May 2020

4 The COVID-19 cost tracker, available at: COVID-19 cost tracker - National Audit Office (NAO)

5 The COVID-19 cost tracker, available at: COVID-19 cost tracker - National Audit Office (NAO)

6 Committee of Public Accounts, COVID-19 Cost Tracker Update, Twelfth Report of Session 2021–22, HC173, 19 July 2021

7 HM Treasury, Government response to the Committee of Public Accounts on the Twelfth and Seventeenth to the Twenty-First Reports from Session 2021–22, CP 583, 9 December 2021

8 Letter from Tom Scholar, Permanent Secretary, HM Treasury, to Dame Meg Hillier MP, Monitoring the cost of cross-government programmes, 23 December 2021

9 Q 13

10 Qq 1, 56–58

11 Qq 56–58

12 Q 19

13 Q 18

14 Q 9

15 Qq 8, 10

16 Q 18

17 Q 11

18 Qq 19, 21; Letter from Tom Scholar, Permanent Secretary, HM Treasury, to Dame Meg Hillier MP, Monitoring the cost of cross-government programmes, 23 December 2021

19 The COVID-19 cost tracker, available at: COVID-19 cost tracker - National Audit Office (NAO)

20 Q 37

21 Office for Budget Responsibility, Economic and fiscal outlook – October 2021

22 The COVID-19 cost tracker, available at: COVID-19 cost tracker - National Audit Office (NAO)

23 Committee of Public Accounts, COVID 19: Culture Recovery Fund, Eighth Report of Session 2021–22, HC340, 23 June 2021

24 Letter from Tom Scholar, Permanent Secretary, HM Treasury, to Dame Meg Hillier MP, Monitoring the cost of cross-government programmes, 23 December 2021

25 Committee of Public Accounts, Fraud and Error, Ninth Report of Session 2021–22, HC253, 24 June 2021

26 HM Revenue & Customs, Annual Report & Accounts 2020–21, 4 November 2021 HMRC Annual Report and Accounts 2020 to 2021 (Web) (publishing.service.gov.uk); Department for Work & Pensions, Annual Report & Accounts 2020–21, 15 July 2021 HC 422 – Department for Work and Pensions – Annual Report and Accounts 2020–21 (publishing.service.gov.uk); Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Annual Report & Accounts 2020–21, 25 November 2021 BEIS Annual report and accounts 2020–21 (publishing.service.gov.uk)

27 Q 30

28 Committee of Public Accounts, Fraud and Error, Ninth Report of Session 2021–22, HC253, 24 June 2021

29 Q 31

30 Q 31

31 Q 32

32 Q 5

33 Committee of Public Accounts, Fraud and Error, Ninth Report of Session 2021–22, HC253, 24 June 2021

34 Committee of Public Accounts, Twelfth Report of Session 2021–22, COVID-19 Cost Tracker Update, HC173, 19 July 2021

35 Q 2; HM Treasury, Government response to the Committee of Public Accounts on the Twelfth and Seventeenth to the Twenty-First Reports from Session 2021–22, CP 583, 9 December 2021

36 Q 2

37 Q 2

38 Q 40

39 Committee of Public Accounts, Initial lessons from the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thirteenth Report of Session 2021–22, HC 175, 25 July 2021

40 Q 5

41 Q 49

42 Qq 52, 54

43 Qq 2, 5

44 Q 42