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WGA provides sobering picture of UK public finances

Thursday 28 June 2018, Commenting on the 2016-17 Whole of Government Accounts (WGA), published today, Henning Diederichs, Public Sector Financial Reporting Manager said:

“The WGA provide a sobering picture of the public finances, which need much more attention than it is likely to get. With total liabilities of 214% of GDP and net liabilities of 120%, the financial position of the UK public sector is even worse than presented in the Budget. The accounting loss for the year was £98bn, more than twice the fiscal deficit of £45bn.

“This goes a long way to explaining the pressure that the Chancellor is under. He needs to balance the need to repair the public balance sheet with the increasing demands on spending departments as austerity proves harder to continue.

“WGA continue to make progress in reducing their audit qualifications. A big success has been the removal of the qualification relating to the completeness and accuracy of intra-government eliminations in the previous year.

“However, whilst some of the previous qualifications persist, a new qualification has arisen due to the academies. Over 5,500 academies are consolidated into Academies Sector Annual Report and Accounts (SARA), yet these are not included in DFE’s annual report. DFE was unable to provide sufficient audit evidence on the value of land and buildings totalling £45 billion nor did they provide any information to adjust SARA’s accounting reference date to be in line with WGA. Whilst it is regrettable that WGA has been qualified in relation to the academies, it nevertheless raises questions about who is accountable for these.”

The full accounts can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/whole-of-government-accounts-2016-to-2017

Natalie Bruce

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