£2m hole found in Forestry accounts

The Commission has to account separately for its activities in the three nations and produce consolidated accounts, but they did not match up their sums for the £125m operating costs of the body.

Comptroller and auditor general, Sir John Bourn, said the Commission’s central accounting function and common ledger should show the total net cash required equalling the net value of payments and receipts. But ‘despite extensive efforts by Commission officials to agree the two balances, an imbalance of Pounds 2m remained’.

The Commission blamed the inaccuracy on internal charges creating the possibility of misstated levels of income, expenditure or asset balances, which did not arise with the smaller number of accounts previously required. The number of accounts required to be submitted by the Commission increased from five in 1998/999 to 11 in 1999/2000.

Bourn’s opinion made it clear the qualification was in respect of the imbalance alone, and he added that the Commission would review its reporting procedures in a bid to prevent a recurrence.

His report did not say whether the benefit of the imbalance accrued to the Scots, the Welsh or the English.


Forestry Commission online

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