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Category: States Assembly

Scrutiny Calls for More Clarity and Transparency in Future Government Spending

Dec 07, 2022

A report examining the proposed Government Plan 2023-26, including 31 findings and 24 recommendations, has been published by the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel. The Panel found that the Plan, which outlines the Government’s financial plans and policies for the next four years, includes funding for New Revenue Growth Programmes and projects without full business cases. The Panel is concerned that the Government has not fully considered the risks and value for money of these proposed projects and has requested that, in future, the Council of Ministers provides New Revenue Programme bids to Scrutiny before the Government Plan is lodged. 

The Panel’s report includes several ‘overarching’ themes concluding findings which all other Scrutiny Panels are in agreement with, including that:

-    Information on ongoing expenditure and business as usual projects is not provided in the Government Plan

-    The Plan does not detail how much of the budget each Minister is responsible for in 2023, as it has in previous years.

-    The late publication of the Government Plan Annex has raised concerns as to whether the proposed Government Plan was agreed by the Council of Ministers with full knowledge of the financials

-    The link between the components of the Government Programme, including the Government Plan, the Ministerial Plans and the Common Strategic Policy, has not been clearly referenced in the Plan

-    The Plan includes £10 million in unallocated Value for Money savings for 2024, 2025 and 2026

-    Some improvements have been made to enhance the accessibility of the Plan, however, it ultimately remains inaccessible to members of the public, particularly children and young people

In turn, each Panel supports the overarching recommendations that:  

-    Ongoing expenditure and business as usual projects must be included in future Plans to enhance transparency and accountability

-    Future Plans must include the budget that each Minister is responsible for, including a detailed breakdown of how funding is split between programmes and services 

-    The Government Plan Annex must be produced and published in tandem with future Government Plans

-    The components encapsulated within the Government Programme and how they link with one another should be clearly referenced within the Plan

-    The Plan should only include Value for Money savings where there is clear evidence of how these will be achieved 

-    The creation of a two-page summary of the Plan and a workshop on its process should be considered ahead of next year, for the benefit of children and young people

The full list of findings and recommendations are detailed in the report.

Chair of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, Deputy Sam Mézec said: “Scrutiny's job is to hold the Government to account for their spending plans. The process of reviewing the Government Plan has been made challenging by the delay of key information and the late publication of the Annex. Whilst it is important that the availability of this information is timely for Scrutiny to complete a thorough review, we also want to ensure that members of the public are readily able to access and understand this in-depth document. This Plan is certainly more readable than previous iterations, but the Panel is of the view that the creation of digital summary versions and workshops for children and young people could aid understanding and make it more accessible. In collaboration with other Scrutiny Panels, our report has highlighted number of specific areas where improvements should be made, which we hope the Government will take into account when preparing future Plans.” 

This week, the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel and the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel will publish reports and the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel and Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel will publish comments papers specific to their individual remits. The debate on the proposed Government Plan 2023-26 will take place during the States Meeting commencing Monday 12 December. 

Government Plan 2023-26 Review Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel - click here to read the report

States Assembly News Release

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