The Treasury’s responsibility for the results of public spending

This report from the UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at the Treasury’s role in public spending.

Public spending is often wasteful, with the government failing to set out clear spending intentions and taking decisions without clear information. This report calls for a change in the role of the Treasury – in how it takes on responsibilities for the results of spending, and understands better the effects outside Whitehall. The Treasury needs to do more than simply set budgets – it needs to apply itself, consistently, to how money can be spent to achieve as much impact as possible.

The report finds that the government’s single departmental plans (SDPs), published annually since 2016, fall a long way short of what is needed, and its new Public Value Frameworks also have limitations. It calls on the Treasury to take on a more radical approach in three areas: The Treasury should address intended performance with the same thoroughness as it does spending – with much stronger use of data and evidence. The Treasury must set and enforce clearer standards for departmental performance and internal accountability, ensuring they have the leadership and staff data they need. The Treasury must strengthen transparency and accountability, publish more information on spending and planned performance, and make sure this is accessible to the public or non-experts – including MPs.

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