MPs accuse DEFRA of ‘serious failure in financial management’

MPs have blamed ‘a serious failure in financial management’ for a £200m
deficit in the accounts of the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural
Affairs (DEFRA).

The accounting issues forced it to impose substantial budgetary cuts on a
series of agencies ranging from the National Forest Company to Food From
Britain, who were required to cut 8% from their planned expenditure in the
middle of the year.

Senor civil servants at the highest level were accused of being
‘irresponsibly over-optimistic’ about the supposed ‘generosity’ of the Treasury
and their ability to use its full End Year Flexibility and to switch resources
from non-cash to near-cash expenditure.

The Commons DEFRA Committee took evidence from permanent secretary Helen Gosh
and other of bureaucrats, and said this ‘complacency’ had severe un-planed-for
consequences for which it blamed their ‘self deception’.

The committee said only a small part of the deficit was due to un-planned-for
Avian Flu spending and the failure of its computerised single farm payment

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