Public sector – National Savings unmoved by NAO

National Savings brushed aside auditors’ concerns this week about its lack of trained accountants and revealed it had appointed a divisional head of finance who does not hold an accountancy qualification.

Last week, the National Audit Office slammed the agency, which is responsible for #63bn of the public’s money, over ‘significant weaknesses’ in financial management. Controls were so lax it was not possible to gauge the level of fraud, reconcile transactions or explain suspense accounts worth millions of pounds.

The NAO said the dearth of accountants employed by the agency – there are now 19 with a further 22 in training – had contributed to the problem.

National Savings identified 11 posts for which the employee should be qualified and seven requiring the member of staff should have a sound knowledge of the subject.

But the NAO said ‘the key post of head of finance has not been identified as requiring a qualified accountant’.

A National Savings spokeswoman said the agency’s finance director was qualified, even though the head of finance of its operational services division was not. ‘He needs a wide range of skills and holds an MBA, which is more appropriate,’ she said.

But an ACCA spokesman said: ‘It would have been better if they had chosen an auditor.’

Leader, page 14.

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