Laura Sharman 04 May 2016

Watchdog calls for improved scrutiny of public spending

The increased used of outsourcing and devolution to local areas is undermining Parliament's ability to hold the Government to account, the public spending watchdog is warning today.

A new report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) argues that a lack of cost and performance data across Government is a 'long-standing' problem that is preventing delivery bodies from being held accountable.

It also criticises departmental accounting officers for allowing projects and initiatives to proceed even though there is strong evidence they deliver poor value for money.

The Committee said this was resulting in a 'damaging lack of transparency' about concerns over the use of public money.

Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, said: 'Any threat to effective scrutiny requires serious attention as it risks weakening Parliament's ability, on behalf of the public, to hold the Government to account for its spending.

'We are particularly concerned that accountability arrangements have lagged behind changes in the way government conducts its business. Data is persistently inadequate and there is an urgent need for greater clarity on lines of responsibility.'

It highlighted the funding of Kids Company and the e-Borders programme as recent examples of projects allowed to go ahead unchallenged despite strong evidence of poor value for money.

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