• In the pre-recess rush to publish tardy reports, sixth UK Whole of Government Accounts may go unnoticed says ACCA.

Following the publication of the latest Whole of Government Accounts report this week, Anthony Walters, head of UK policy at ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has expressed his concern that such an important report risks sneaking out under the radar:

“This is one of the largest consolidated set of government accounts globally comprising of more than 5,500 government entities including local government, central government, health and education and public corporations. It’s therefore disappointing that the planned timescales to deliver the WGA have slipped and it has been pushed out in the pre-recess rush.”

Anthony Walters says the muted release is regrettable, given the usefulness of the data within. An example of which is that net expenditure reported in the WGA increased from £145.7 billion (2013-14 restated) to £152.0 billion (2014-15). This differs from the Government’s fiscal measure, as reported in the National Accounts, for the current deficit which reduced from £71.0 billion to £57.0 billion.

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“There have been clear improvements in the quality of the data. This rich source of audited financial data provides an opportunity to assess the impact of Government policy on the nation’s finances.

“The challenge remains to encourage politicians, policy makers and all others with a stake in our public finances to make greater use of the WGA. We welcome the efforts made by the Government to make this data more accessible. But more needs to be done to raise awareness of the WGA and its contents and to ensure that the timescales for releasing the annual reports do not drift.

“It is vital that this important financial data does not get lost in the noise; it’s there to be used and to drive transparency and scrutiny in the way in which public finances are deployed and managed.”