Eric Pickles' Communities Department - charged with getting local council budgets under control - fined for £217m unauthorised overdraft
Margaret Hodge describes department finances as 'a shocking example of incompetence'
Friday 28 June 2013
The Department for Communities and Local Government has been reprimanded by the Whitehall spending watchdog after running up an unauthorised overdraft of £217 million.
Head of the National Audit Office (NAO) Amyas Morse announced that he was “qualifying” his regularity opinion of the department's financial statements because of its breach of Treasury spending limits.
The finding is an embarrassment for Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who has regularly lectured local councils on the need to get their finances under control.
Delivering his Commons statement on the Government's spending review on Wednesday, Chancellor George Osborne praised Mr Pickles as “the model of lean government”.
But the NAO disclosed that the Treasury had imposed a £20,000 fine on his department as a punishment for its poor financial management.
In a further setback, the NAO found that the department's local government capital expenditure limit of £80,000 had been exceeded by almost £1.2 million as a result of overspending by two of its arm's-length bodies - the Valuation Tribunal Service and the Commission of Local Administration in England.
Chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge described the failure of the department to control its finances as “a shocking example of incompetence”.
“This is an unacceptable abuse and waste of public money that could have been avoided with the right financial oversight,” she said.
“I am staggered that the department has been so blase with its resources and so poor at staying within some of its budgets.
“If local authorities, for whom the department is responsible, acted in this way, the department would be down on them like a ton of bricks. The Department for Communities and Local Government must learn lessons and ensure it does not repeat these mistakes.”
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 3 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 4 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
- 5 The Greece debt crisis explained in less than 100 words
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
Greece debt crisis as it happened: EU chiefs at loggerheads hours before Alexis Tsipras’s last ditch deal proposals
Florida teacher sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexually abusing three pupils
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...