Whole of government accounts ‘groundbreaking’

UK WHOLE OF GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTS (WGA) have been produced for the first time ever; an unaudited version was published today, with experts having said that the finished product will put the UK at the forefront of public sector reporting.

The figures show a total deficit of £164.1bn with revenue standing at £585.5bn and expenditure of £668.7bn. In producing a consolidated set of financial statements for the public sector, the government hopes to boost transparency and access to public finances.

Around 1,500 organisations’ accounts have been brought together and a final audited report will be published later in the year. In future, WGAs should allow comparison year on year, making it easier to track fiscal changes.

The government will continue to produce National Accounts, worked out on the basis of an internationally agreed system. WGAs use different accounting standards are were designed for different purposes, meaning it may be difficult to draw comparisons between the two.

WGAs are aimed at “offer[ing] new insights into long-term sustainability”, and set out the figures in a format that will be easy to interpret by accountancy professionals and those in the commercial sector.

Supporters claimed WGA will enable Parliament and the public to better understand how taxes are spent; the accounts have been produced according to International Financial Reporting Standards adapted for the public sector and are similar to business accounts.

CIPFA chief executive Steve Freer welcomed the data, saying: “It represents an important step towards the planned publication of the first audited WGA in the autumn. At that stage, the UK will be right at the forefront of government reporting internationally.”

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