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The UK Central Government Public Finance Management System: a guide for stakeholders


Published: 20 Nov 2017 Update History

ICAEW has a new addition to the better government series: a guide for stakeholders working with the UK Central Government Public Financial Management System.

The UK central government public financial management system has evolved over several centuries to become one of the most advanced and transparent in the world. It is designed to help Parliament and Citizens to hold government to account, but to do so these 'stakeholders' need to be equipped with a sound working knowledge of the features of the system.

While the UK system is transparent, the relationship between the Government, acting on behalf of the Crown and Parliament is complex, with a number of parties involved in the overall process by which public expenditure is approved, managed and accounted for. This document aims to provide a simple and clear explanation of how the system works – in one short and accessible document.

As Chartered Accountants, one of our duties is to always act in the public interest. In producing this guide for stakeholders the ICAEW has sought to do for stakeholders in the UK Government, what chartered accountants do every day in business: bring clarity and simple explanations to complexity. In particular providing an overview of:

  • The roles and responsibilities of Parliament, HM Treasury, Spending Departments and the National Audit Office
  • How public money is managed
  • The Fiscal and Spending Framework
  • How spending is controlled
  • How Government Departments are held accountable to Parliament for their resources

We consequently hope this guide will be useful to all citizens and particularly that it assists Members of Parliament who have a role in authorising the use of public funds by government and in subsequently holding ministers and officials to account for how those funds have been used.

Better Government Series

Our Better Government Series is a series of thought leadership, policy insights, toolkits and best practice special reports on topical public sector financial management issues.

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Read our guide to the UK Central Government Public Financial Management System.