PracticeAuditCabinet accounts qualified

Cabinet accounts qualified

The Cabinet Office, the department heading the government's multi-billion-pound efficiency drive, has been unable to get a clean bill of health for its accounts because it missed the deadline for submission, Accountancy Age has learned.

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The National Audit Office could only issue a disclaimer against the accounts, as they were submitted after the 30 November cut-off date.

The news followed the chancellor’s Budget announcement that tens of thousands of civil service posts would go as part of efficiency cuts across Whitehall departments.

This week, the NAO reminded government that ‘robust, accurate and timely’ financial information was ‘fundamental’ to improved financial planning. The report said faster closing should be an integral part of the move to ‘improve financial management’.

The Cabinet Office is one of 10 departments that failed to submit its accounts on time. It blamed a shortage of accountants and ‘complex’ issues that it needed more time to resolve.

Other accounts that were qualified came from the Department of Work and Pensions, the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office and the Office of the Rail Regulator.

An NAO statement warned: ‘Some departments still view the accounts production process as merely a year-end activity, rather than something that underpins effective in-year financial management and resource planning’.

The NAO’s comments will put immense pressure on Jerry Page, finance director at the Cabinet Office, and his opposite numbers, William Nye at the Home Office and Trevor Woolley at the MoD, to run their departments more effectively.

The Cabinet Office launched the efficiency drive last year with a consultation paper and the appointment of Sir Peter Gershon, tasked with finding savings in Whitehall.

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