PracticeAuditNERC faces grilling over budget crisis

NERC faces grilling over budget crisis

The National Environmental Research Council is due to be cross-examined by MPs following evidence of a budgeting crisis which arose following the move from cash to resource accounting.

Link: NAO looks forward to ‘robust’ accounting regime

MPs from the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee will want to know what went wrong when evidence is presented to them tomorrow as part of a major investigation into the changeover.

The budgets of the NERC, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council have had to be ‘assisted’ and ‘reprofiled’ as a result of the switch.

The difficulties were disclosed by Trade and Industry secretary Patricia Hewitt in the Commons amidst growing concern among MPs at reports that the councils have had to curb research funding as a result.

One committee member, Norwich North Labour MP Ian Gibson, said earlier: ‘The NERC has had to suspend some of their grants for a year and are trying to blame the Treasury.

‘We have received a lot of letters from people who have had their grants suspended.’

Gibson, who put a series of formal questions to Hewitt, said the committee intended to find out what had gone wrong and whether mismanagement by the research councils was to blame.

He claimed the research councils have had to hire additional accounting staff to sort out the mess, adding: ‘We intend to grill them.’

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