By Vivienne Russell
28 July 2010
The UK Statistics Authority has had its 2009/10 accounts
qualified after auditors found that it had spent more cash than it was
The National Audit Office said yesterday that the regulatory
body spent £208.112m, of which £0.251m was more than the amount authorised.
The comptroller and auditor general said the cash breach was
mainly caused by a failure of year-end financial controls. The cash management
process that operated throughout the year meant there was a risk of exceeding
approved limits by the end of the year. When this risk materialised, the
management review process did not pick it up, the NAO found.
Another contributory factor was a change in payment
deadlines for suppliers. In March 2010, the government changed this from ten to
five days. This meant the statistics authority worked to pay as many creditors
as possible before the year end.
NAO head Amyas Morse said: ‘I have qualified my audit
opinion on the 2009/10 financial accounts of the UK Statistics Authority
because it spent more cash than the authorised limit set by Parliament… It is
important that the steps now being taken by the authority have the desired
effect of improving financial management.’
The authority has commissioned its own internal audit to
establish the cause of the overspend and identify the improvements required. It
is also introducing additional supervisory controls, better documentation and
more training and guidance for staff.
A UK Statistics Authority spokesman said: ‘The UK Statistics Authority, in supervising the
Office for National Statistics, will ensure that the necessary improvements
required by the comptroller and auditor general are implemented. The comptroller
and auditor general has said that he is content that steps are being taken to ensure
that this situation will not recur.’