Good Day To Bury Bad News
WHITEHALL auditors have refused to sign off part of the Treasury's accounts over its exposure to potential bank losses.
The National Audit Office (NAO) has not passed the accounts in full as insurance granted to troubled banks Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland was not approved by parliament. It is thought to be the first time that the Treasury's accounts have been qualified. It will publish its annual report and accounts this afternoon – as MPs prepare to depart Westminster today for their summer recess.
However, a Treasury spokesman said: "They have not expressed concern about the figures for the costs of interventions … which are consistent with the range of £20 billion to £50bn set out in the Budget."
Four other government departments – HM Revenue and Customs, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office – are also expected to disclose that their accounts have been qualified by the NAO.
So would you invest in a company whose accounts were not accepted by the auditors and the MD and senior staff all went off for a three month holiday the same day?
UPDATE - The Times has more:
A mountain of bad news was buried by the Government as it rushed out reports and 26 ministerial statements the day before MPs go on holiday. Whitehall sources said that many of the reports were ready to be published weeks ago, and would normally be released in stages, but ministers had insisted they all be delayed till yesterday.
The dangerous state of the public finances was laid bare by the reports, which showed that the Government’s tax take plummeted by £32 billion last year. Figures from HM Revenue & Customs showed income tax, national insurance, VAT, stamp duty and corporation tax fell by £21 billion, while other debts and legal liabilities had cut income by a further £10 billion.
The figures were disclosed as the National Audit Office (NAO) refused to sign off six sets of Whitehall accounts because of fraud, error, overpayments and IT problems. The accounts, covering billions of pounds, included the Ministry of Defence, the Treasury, the Revenue, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Home Office and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. The Government also slipped out reports criticising its training programmes and announced delays in several policy areas.