The Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has described government estimates showing £10.9bn written off in unpaid tax as staggering in a recent report.
“We were surprised to find that the Treasury did not have a grip on trends in some key areas of risk or plans for managing them,” the MPs concluded.
Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee, said the WGA has revealed some “staggering numbers” and that this was the first time Treasury officials, ministers, MPs and the public had been able to look at the total cost.
She added that the Treasury had departed from accounting standards by leaving out of the accounts such bodies as Network Rail and the publicly owned bank, leading to the accounts being qualified by the National Audit Office.
Amyas Morse, comptroller and auditor general at the NAO, said in the WGA: “The external auditor of some 16 bodies included in the WGA, qualified their audit opinions owing to the material existence of irregular spending; that is using resources not in accordance with Parliamentary intentions. Of these, two are of significance to the WGA. These cover error and fraud in benefit payments and tax credit payments.”
Business and finance journalist