Friday, 3 February 2017


This is best described by the NAO (National Audit Office) in a recent report as follows: we do not consider that there exists a coherent, enduring framework for planning and management that government needs.” At last recognition…but what will be done?

The management cycle is integral to virtually all human activities: the car driver has a destination and is constantly reacting to the feedback that comes at him through the windscreen, the next corner and so on. 1n the 1940s fighter and bomber pilots were debriefed immediately on landing enabling operational plans to be updated.  The industry boss will be constantly looking ahead, giving directions and strategies aided by feedback, statistics and so on. Periodically his finance team will collate proposals and needs from all quarters of the organisation and compile the plan for the ensuing period for adoption or amendment. The resulting budgets are then issued back down the line for execution and as time  passes report back on outcomes, all in standard measured format.
Government doesn’t behave like that. It regards politics as the method and as an end in itself. It does not even seem to have a one-page public statement of its primary objectives in running the country. Lacking management information it drives with a rear-view mirror and misted windscreen. It sets up a committee. It sets up a quango (jobs for the boys). It ‘empowers’ (?). It legislates and then ‘takes the day off’. It excludes. It believes it can manage without ‘tools’ and ‘machinery’ which are regarded as separate and beneath consideration. It doesn’t understand that the art of management is the delegation of responsibility while retaining control. It seems to be trying to fill the void by second guessing and supplementing unstructured line management using words like ‘independent’ and ‘democratic, to ‘scrutinise’ (looking for what?) and debate without executive conclusion.

The above can be seen in the FLAW evidence put to the C&AG (Comptroller & Auditor General): “There is a deep conceptual but simply identified flaw in government accounting which must be costing billions and is creating uncontrolled debt”.

1 That accountability is in the hands of recipients of public funds is the cause of the failure of the (European court of auditors) to sign off the accounts. “They never will until this is addressed.” This is not so much a suggestion of corrupt practices, though it may be, but saying that there is no outcome feedback. That applies equally in UK though since 2009 there has been feedback into WGA Whole Government Accounts but with the resulting consolidation taking up to a useless 14 months. It was intended that by 2010 comparative budget values would be incorporated but that has not happened.

2 The IMF has just been criticised by its ‘independent examiner’ for its role in the Greek crisis and failure to grasp that currency unions require treasury and political union or are vastly exposed to debt crises. In other words  the budget must be resourced and achievable as seen at the time. The same very clearly goes for the UK sterling area.

3 There is lack of information on which to vote in that in UK the universal franchise has not yet extended to formal accountability. “Accountability” needs information to inform the required decision. For government it only so far means exposure to election. There is no systematic feedback to MPs as deputed by the cabinet (?) or via the DCLG (Dept. of Communities & Local Government), or to residents by Annual Report.

The recognition of need is present but is neutered by an expressed general feeling, particularly in the treasury of insurmountable complexity. In fact the right drivers would come from an immediately instituted Cabinet agenda spot served by regular Report in standard format. The Cabinet Secretary would need to ‘believe’ and CFO and ministers put ‘on the spot’ in turn. The initial absence of the data for key-figures would stimulate system upgrading. Then the evolutionary process would take care of ‘deep-reaching’ improvement to a wide range of government activities, tax simplification and so on all prompted by the new dialogue from the top. Savings would be in billions with true Value for Money .

.2nd February 2017

Tuesday, 15 November 2016


The Annual Report – with references to and experience of Surrey County Council and boroughs.

WHY ACCOUNT? (This excludes Management Accounting until a reference in the closing paragraph)
1.    In every walk of life we join together in proprietorial groups with varying activities and purposes. Whether it be a tennis club or plc it will be governed for good order and inter-party relations by rules or a constitution. Varying degrees of prescriptive law apply. Structures are organised and  by ancient necessity we elect or appoint from amongst ourselves or hire others to run the show.

2.    Given this delegation we retain control by long established formal accountability for stewardship and renewal. Normally there is an annual heartbeat with a discharge by Annual Report, a narrative with facts, to account for decisions taken with explanations of intentions, and renewal by (re)election. Government doesn’t yet embrace this only comparatively recently having evolved out of  feudal society, traces of which remain, and granted the incompletely installed universal franchise.

3.    We all became the funders of an always growing interventionist State which tries to govern, by whipping, through tribal political Party ‘secret society’ association and influence which has no legal right to exist. This tends to usurp the proprietorial group structures and electoral process. We are ill-served in this respect.

4.    Efforts to persuade local authorities, concentrating on Surrey County Council, to comply with the spirit of accountability have failed. That is in spite of that sprit being behind much legislation and best practice. I have, via my MP, sought direction on standards  from the NAO, who referred me to the Electoral Commission. They in turn gave me a named contact  in the Cabinet Office. Eventually after administrative cock-up the matter was said to be with their constitution group. From there – nothing. I submitted at their invitation to the House of Commons Inquiry into Voter Engagement which terminated only with registration having so far found but not recommended for –“Lack of belief in the meaning of elections as they are presented; Poor voter turnout is not due to apathy but lack of awareness and information on which to vote;  dissatisfaction with politicians, political parties and UK politics”.  An appeal to the Local Government Ombudsman against the council’s refusal to address the Report to residents has also met with: “This matter affects all or most of the residents within the council’s area and is outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction”.

5     Surrey County Council has recently started to produce an Annual Report. That for 2015-16 is exemplary. But undemocratic Party supremacy seems to be behind a refusal to communicate it to the electorate most of whom don’t know of its existence, or more importantly, if they do what is its purpose. In fact we have again the crazy result that for 2016-17, the period ending before the election it will, without a swifter timetable or delay in election date, be withheld until after the council elections.

SOME ASPECTS AND IMPLICATIONS with the Surrey Report in view.
6     An example of activity change: helpful reference was made in context to the bed unblocking policy of the new re-ablement service which I have personally experienced but knew nothing about as a ‘shareholder’
7     It is the natural vehicle for compulsory disclosures or links to data. By definition they must be made to someone.
8     Financial matters are reported on and explained. Surrey CC is insolvent due to the pension deficit, a matter of direct consequence to taxpayers.
9     Allowed its intended function greatly reduced FOI and “transparency” burdens on staff would undoubtedly follow.
10 Under the dubious cloak of “transparency” we are offered access to quantities of internal working documentation, but how can we tell the time from a clock in pieces ?
11 Criminally in 2009 election year the devastatingly critical Frater Report (see website page) was deliberately withheld by the councillors.
12 It is said that “ interest in such documents is likely to be limited to a very small minority…” . That is a lazy and decadent thought which categorises electorate classes. The point is not the degree of interest but the placing of responsibility for being informed by the giving of due notice. “…Those parties interested in………” are not able to apply if unaware.
13 Council refusal to address all residents is on the lame excuse of distribution cost which could, where the internet doesn’t serve, with a ‘can do’ attitude be funded by income  (cover charge and/or sponsorship?)
14 As a private sector shareholder I must by law be accounted to and must give consent to receive the Annual Report electronically. Either as shareholder or resident voter my equity interest is identical . My preference has often been to check that the audit report is 'clean' and then perhaps leave it at that. There have been Surrey cases of qualified reports as just one of many reportable matters of concern but invisible to we resident voters about councillors’ behaviour and performance in their managerial role on our behalf (see 11 above).
15 They quote legal ‘small print’ which is said to place the process with the council. Councillors thereby exclude us to deny our democratic rights, and responsibilities, and allows councillor conflict of interest.
16 Once elected to the Council they become responsible for the running of the enterprise. The electorate should be able to judge performance and competence. In the absence of formal accountability I am not equipped to vote in local elections and publicly say so.


17 Local authorities could be regarded as  accountable to central government and not resident taxpaying voters. But that is not so, a matter of an identified costly and uncontrollable debt generating Europe-wide  system flaw subject to needed further development of WGA (Whole Government consolidated Accounts) and WGB (budgets). I have submitted deep probing questions via my MP about this backed by very high level evidence to the C&AG and PAC. 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Because politicians seem to prefer it that way

Running the country is not what they like doing. They want to be allowed to use pretend money, some of it tax and some borrowed, without thought for tomorrow. It is hoped that that will take care of itself because of “the economy” at least for the immediate electoral period.

The fatal flaw is summed up for the Eurozone and sterling area by an MEP in 2008 who said:

“ The chances of the EU meeting the entirely proper demands of the nine taxpayers alliances are close to zero. On Monday, we heard yet again from the Court of Auditors a catalogue of good intentions wholly unequal to stopping the misplaced flow of billions of euros. The EU has been shifting the deckchairs on this particular Titanic for years. It stays afloat largely because of public indifference to the waste of their taxes. #The concept of “shared management”, which leaves accountability in the hands of recipients of public funds, is not widely understood. Yet it is the cause of the failure of the court to sign off the accounts for the past 14 years. They never will until this is addressed.”

And reported of the IMF in 2016: failure to grasp that currency unions require treasury and political union or are vastly exposed to debt crises.

And for the UK sterling area and its devolution method cf the unforeseen accumulating Scottish deficit (£15bn in 2015-16)

Government adopts cash and borrowing orientation whereas management accounting also reflects and supports the organisation structure in which it is employed. It works with the 500 year old accruals (double entry) basis of transaction date and period without which large organisations cannot delegate/devolve authority while retaining control. Setting budgets from committed plans is part of that. Such a  financial system is not complete without a constantly updated scoreboard  reflecting upward reporting for re-direction and plan updating.

In what way do governments think they can manage otherwise ? Where is the relationship, contractual/constitutional and operational difference between any central government or currency zone and an international multi-product conglomerate ? Governments round Europe are beginning to come round to this but this issue of public finance management is seldom met in media and public discourse. All the learned political economics concentrates on “the economy” and esoteric questions of money printing and quantitive easing, both of which have bad side effects.

And "One of our interviewees (of Anthony King and Ivor Crewe in 2013-14 The Blunders of our governments p309), after a long and wide-ranging discussion, said there was one important issue we had not raised. "what was that?" we asked. "The Treasury", he replied. He blamed the Treasury for almost all of Britain's ills dating back over many decades and wondered aloud why an organisation that had presided for so long over such a poor economic performance was still held in such high esteem. The short answer may be that, at least within Whitehall it is less esteemed than feared." 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

FLAWED GOVERNMENT the case of Surrey County Council

1.      As of January 2016 Surrey County Council does not understand the FOI question “To whom, for what and how is it accountable”.

2.      The answer has been given in the form of references to its Constitution which is necessarily and effectively the Council routinely  talking to itself. Article 1 says ”The council will exercise all its powers and duties in accordance with the law and this Constitution”.

3.      There is also Article 3 which is entitled THE PUBLIC AND THE COUNCIL and sets out all the access rights and boundaries appertaining to that undefined class but not it’s interest. There is no reference to Council reporting responsibility outwards towards central government, taxpaying voting residents and other identifiable classes served.

4.  Stakeholders apart that responsibilty would cover reporting  to provide the feedback necessary to establish that requirements of law and policy have been carried out so that policy can be adjusted if necessary, executive action is informed and resource disposition is changed if necessary. For stakeholders the purpose is to account for discharge and renewal, for (re)election of representatives, and for any other business.

5.      In every situation there is a superior authority.  Wellington’s victory at Waterloo and Nelson’s at Trafalgar  required a despatch. Battle of Britain pilots returned to a debriefing. The RSCH Trust lays its Annual Report before Parliament; that document covers not just the financial but  all aspects.

6.      To some undefined degree we the people are the superior authority but whether as local residents or citizens of the Nation is not clear. Is the County Council accountable via the Centre or to local voters directly ?

7.      It is already officially established that there is a lack of belief in the meaning of  elections as they are presented and that poor voter turnout is not due to apathy but lack of awareness and information on which to vote.

8.     At present we are asked only to vote for people to represent us for no clear reason and without conventional supporting evidence. But the undersigned’s representative on Surrey County Council refused to answer, with the support of the Monitoring Officer and Audit & Governance Committee, invited fed-back questions on the Annual Report 2014-15. That same Annual Report was not targetted at stakeholders though so addressed. That for 2016-17 will be held back until just after the 2017 election. Yet Council Leadership can see nothing wrong with that and has no suitable answer to the FOI question at 1 above.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

AND NOW THERE IS GREECE - Government accounting is now really found wanting.

There  is a lot of news going on. Roger Federer reaches new heights in the Wimbledon Men’s Singles, England roundly defeat Australia with a day to spare to start the home Ashes series. The Chinese stock market crashes (relatively). Then there is Greece and the Eurozone. This goes beyond all else for historically profound significance in peacetime. Yet the circumstances are commonplace in 'real' life. It is at last sinking in that countries are no different from households and businesses when it comes to financial health. The eurozone has to manage itself as if a global industrial conglomerate and Greece a subsidiary company.

This weekend the European authorities have to decide whether and how to rescue that country from bankruptcy when they don’t trust the competence and commitment of the Greek government with an unsustainable total debt and faced with popular but induced uncomprehending vote to “end austerity”. The very real and present disaster is with them already because the banks have run out of money and all trade and other transactions are at a standstill. Famine stalks the streets. The IMF has now in effect said we won't touch Greece with a bargepole. Once again it’s the poor wot suffers.

Yet no country has a ‘top of the range’ financial system and only 14 nations do balance sheets according to the IMF. Europe has failed its audit for some 20 years. Only since 2009 has UK produced  ‘proper accounts’ which are heavily qualified by the auditors and these are said to lead the field. What is so terrifyingly odd is that the ‘powers that be’ don’t know what a financial system looks like and why such an out-of-date situation is so avoidably dangerous. The penny hasn’t dropped yet with the high-flown economists and political scientists.

The chair of  CIPFA international (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) tells it like it is but even he seems to be trying not to offend and lacking  full technical appreciation[1] . Why “net worth” ? UK isn’t for sale is it ? Or perhaps Ian Ball has in mind content and presentation of loan applications. Again, he uses that anaemic word “transparency” as a purpose. That purpose should be, looking ahead, to continuously produce management and operating data in standard conventional format in as nearly as possible real time to be taken together with feedback to prompt re-direction and ‘touches on the tiller’.

[1] CIPFA International chair Ian Ball has urged governments across the world to use balance sheets and accrual accounting to improve the transparency of their public finances. July 2015.
Speaking at CIPFA’s International seminar today,   Ball said the challenge was to get all governments to use these methods as the basis for financial management and budgetary decisions.
The publication of public sector balance sheets was “going back into favour” as  a measure and could be used as a measure of government’s “net worth”, he told delegates.
“However I would say they are not back in favour in that senior policymakers and politicians are not using them for their decision-making. I think that is the next step.”
This would be implemented by all governments, Ball added, as the public finances could not be managed properly unless governments thought about how the decisions it makes impact on its net worth.
“The net worth is the much better measure of the government’s fiscal position – but people don’t talk about it in these terms  because most governments don’t have that information.
“And if you want to do an international comparison like the Org for Economic Co-Operation and Development and the IMF would do, you can’t do that because it isn’t shown. The IMF said in its latest report that 14 governments had provided it with a balance sheet, but you need more than 50% compliance.
He did acknowledge, however, that governments in some parts of the world – particularly Latin America and Africa – were promoting good governance and accrual accounting, such as Brazil and Tanzania.
The use of balance sheets also allowed policy plans to be matched against outcomes, he said.
“For example when we see the UK budget this week I would like to see a forecast set of financial statements.
“(This way) we can look at the end-of-year WGA and say how do they compare with the budget we saw at the beginning of the year.”
In addition Ball highlighted the importance of having qualified Chief Finance officers to make the system run smoothly both in departments of government and at the centre.
“There needs to  be a very strong financial management function in the treasury”., he concluded. “in a way the test is when that is integrated in into the budgetary decision-making process. The people who look at the budget have got to be  a team with accounting and economic skills”.

Thursday, 19 February 2015


This is the third submission to the POLITICAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL INQUIRY
By Peter Webb, FCA retired, Romilly Cottage, 139 Binscombe Godalming Surrey GU7 3QL, 01483 425385; following the
It follows Edward Faulkner’s personal invitation by email dated 23rd December 2014 which admitted that transparency and accountability of government are not issues the Committee considered to a great extent in their interim report.

1.    The Report discovers
·  Lack of belief in the meaning of elections as they are presented.
·  Poor voter turnout is not due to apathy but lack of awareness and information on which to vote.
·   Dissatisfaction with politicians, political parties and UK politics”. 
My first and second submissions give my status and qualification. This one amplifies analysis and known solutions.

2.  Firstly we can conclude that government fails to service voters in the established way of doing things but which it nevertheless expects from those subject to its laws and good practice. A cause would seem to be tardy evolution of governance during growing prosperity allowing lack of stringency. The archaic Treasury is the weakest link (paragraph 34), with the top civil service need of re-skilling and reform dependent in turn on enlightened and insightful political leadership direction. This paper proceeds in logical sequence through the Report’s findings above and concludes with an illustrative parable with “guidance notes”.

3.  I will vote for “none of the above” while my vote can be taken to legitimize government by ‘secret society’ with its risks of totalitarianism. Rights of association and networking notwithstanding Democracy is not served by an organised and disciplined political party  populating Parliament and  organs of the State when it is not itself accountable, and is unconcerned about governance and managerial competence.

4.  We the people are now the paramount authority as ‘shareholders’. This has not always been the case. To choose or support someone with our precious vote we need assured information. This needs consideration of the ‘by whom, to whom, for what and how’ of accountability.

5.  Constitutional and operational evolution has not kept pace in that there is no complete organogram for the hierarchy of accountability, direction and feedback (cf European and UK audit failure). That condition persists with fiscal discipline being seen apparently as an optional choice rather than a necessity. Antiquated accounting means that domestic government is ill-equipped for control, forward planning, policy formation and implementation

6.  A very current piece of evidence is the survey by ICAEW and PwC of 10,000 Europeans finding that only one in five feel that their government provides them with sufficient information about the state of public finances. “There is a wide crisis of confidence …in their governments’ ability to manage public finances, 70% wanted more action ….to reduce the debts of their countries”. There is little understanding among the general public and “despite the introduction of whole of government accounts” UK came fourth in that regard.

7.  Having placed voters within geographical and/or constitutional boundaries and located them then if engagement is to happen it is necessary to, well……engage. This means addressing them with a question supported by facts and inviting an answer or result.

8.  For this purpose these are three types of question:
·                   That seeking a specific single answer such as “do you wish for Scottish independence, yes or no?”
·                   That seeking periodic approval and democratic renewal such as “do you approve of what we have done and do you authorise my/our continuation in office?” Note that it is easy to stipulate that abstention is to be either a vote of confidence, or not, once notice is given and received.
·                   That seeking support for system change such as “do you wish to vote for X or Y for the new position of Police Commissioner?” Comment: it is reasonable to ask what difference that change makes beyond needing more support bureaucracy, and bearing in mind that no change in accountability has taken place only it’s routing within an overall but disorganised hierarchy.

9.  People will be unaware unless their attention is sought. Proper NOTICE with purposeful agenda is missing. Fulfilment by posted voting card might be sufficient constructive communication if expanded to state:
§     In a sentence what we are summoned/invited to vote for as well as who.
§     A list of official documentation given in evidence. 
§     Hard copy pick up points (and cover price?) and electronic links for downloading.
§     Personal CVs including such as political Party affiliation could be included in this process. 

10.                      Suggested wording, having defined who is accountable to whom in the total government hierarchy is as follows: “I am the appointed/elected leader of your xxxxxx. Here for each of our entitled recipients is our formal Report on how we have performed on our planned objectives outlined a year ago, including facts and disclosures required by law and best practice and with statements  about the outlook and immediate plans”. Then for elected bodies:  “At the forthcoming election on xxxx you are invited to elect a candidate to represent you. In so doing, or placing your X in the box “none of the above”, you will be indicating approval or otherwise of the content of the Report and authorising continuation, or otherwise”.

11.                      See above and below. For elections for democratic approval and renewal the conventional prime functioning document is the Annual Report which is already defined by government for government use. Its timeliness is important with each day of delay in publication to addressees wastefully reducing its value. It makes no sense for local Annual Reports, when produced, for the period ending before the election to become available weeks after the election.

12.                      That may extend to the outdated nature of domestic public decision-making, organisational and reporting hierarchy and formal communications. If a politician’s wish for “vibrant (local) democracy” means passionate but poorly informed argument without executive conclusion then it needs to be challenged.

13.                      There is undoubtedly mistrust now of the ‘Establishment’ by the people. Communicated information of a trustworthy and politically unspun nature would help alleviate this. Real mistrust is engendered by the example at paragraph 32.

14.                      It is also noticeable that much duplication and wasteful activity is built in to the system in order to protect us from politics. A perfect example is the creation of the “independent” OBR (Office of Budget Responsibility) to by-pass an archaic and demonstrably deficient Treasury. Another example of muddled thinking is given at paragraph 33.

15.                      The question, for your Committee perhaps, is whether politics is now fit for purpose for decision-making and control. If “all is politics” as the air we breathe then we should move on and think managerially. We understand that limited resource allocation is difficult but inconclusive partisan argument is wasteful of time, effort and money. Perhaps government now needs its own professional leadership cadre.

16.                      Belief in elections can be restored by the above measures and adaptation to them because feedback, if formalised, would suggest evolutionary amendments to the process and of course to the quality of governance. These are surely ongoing concerns for your Committee? The Ship of State has no Chief Engineer – Systems.

17.                      There is a giant safari park in this country. It contains prehistoric animals (political governors) attended by primitive tribes (Party people), still hard-wired for killing strangers from the other side of the forest, led by Chief Ponzi and Chief Madoff. There are guides and invisible in the background are groundsmen and servants (civil servants). Visitors and sightseers are welcome on pain of taxation.

18.                      Every so often visitors can assemble in the clearing to watch and pretend to take part in a Ritual (election). Formalised games are played and a tribesman is chosen as winner according to the colour of the adornment they wear. Some wear red feathers round their waist, some blue feathers in their headdress. Why? Its origin is lost but it is fun.

19.                      A visitor asks “how do they know when to assemble for the Ritual?“  A great cry goes up from the governors in their long house which tribespeople just know is The Call. They wait for the sun to rise seven times and on the 8th day they come together.” Came the day when dawn was inconvenient so they all stood about until the sun’s shadow was at its shortest.

20.                      It was thanks to a visitor (the man from the Taxpayers Alliance) that they were introduced to the idea of the clock. So now they have all been presented with a little bag full of tiny metal shapes and pieces of glinting gem-like things (spending details on line). This they were assured would tell the time and keep them amused and be a great step forward for mankind. But it didn’t, it didn’t, and it wasn’t.

21.                      The governors hit on the idea of rule by TLA (three letter acronym) and changed the Counting House to the OBI (Office of Budget Irresponsibility)(Treasury).

22.                      The Governors were troubled when their people grew up, became restless and began to ask questions. “What do you do that we should dance for you and bow down in the ritual? “ “What happened to those promises made earlier?” “Why is your music not rhythmic and harmonious (method and systems)?” “What do you do with the tax money?” “How is it that the water (money) hole is empty?” “We’ve done the rain dance (the economy) for you and we’re knackered.” “Why should we vote for you again?”

23.                      On the verge of extinction the governors heard at the back of the group of tourists the words “what you must do is to prepare for the Ritual with a nourishing feast (Annual Report) that will satisfy all those hungry questions!” But they weren’t listening because busy trying to work out why the clock pieces wouldn’t tell the time: they debated what the time might be without executive conclusion; the economists looked for statistical correlations between the metal shapes and gem-like things inside the clock-case; and the Party people believed they knew best what the time was. The accountants assembled the clock, waited to be asked what the time was and why it wasn’t something else, and announce what it would be 10 minutes hence and whether that would be a good time to dance. A tiny group in the Counting House were not allowed to simplify tax because someone believed complexity to be job-creating and necessary for “fairness” of punishment.

EXPLANATORY NOTES FOR GUIDES (Comment and explanation)
24.                      It seems to be outside government’s mind-set to deal in information communicated for a purpose when it comes to its democratic responsibilities to its citizens for stewardship, service performance, and explanation of managerial objectives and so on, and electoral renewal.

25.                      Politicians piously profess transparency and open government. But that is a qualitative attitude and passive. It too often means only access to lifeless and historical mass data. It has no primary operational point, only secondary availability for academic research or statistical purpose.

26.                      Accountability on the other hand, which is professed but not practiced by government, is an act of discharge or formal process for a purpose. It is for a chairman, leader, group leader or other proposer to support with evidence and organised data the formation of policy and operational decision. That embraces the total management control system and also democratic discharge and renewal. At root is the transaction which once executed is not informative in isolation. All the Authorities, laws, customs and so on have long defined and prescribed how constitutionally governed bodies should go about this, pulsing annually. Government exempts itself.

27.                        Electoral periodicity does not align with all other connecting ‘heartbeats’, for Parliament, reporting, budgeting and accounting and so on which are usually annual. Moreover untimely information grows misleading and wasteful by the day. Examples are WGAs (Whole of Government Accounts) and the inherently ridiculous performance of local authorities stated in 11 above.

28.                      According to correspondence via my MP Rt.Hon. Jeremy Hunt it is now ruled by the Secretary of State, Communities and Local Government that the Annual Report  should not be delivered because “unsolicited” nor should it coincide with elections to inform voters. Is the council tax invoice with its tax calculation detail unsolicited?

29.                      He goes on to say that “openness and transparency in decision-making is important. That is why Government has required councils to put details of their spending on-line.” “Council publicity must ensure that the public are kept informed, but must be proportionate and cost-effective”. But no data is ‘active’ for this purpose unless communicated. The detail of line by line spending is akin to the notch on stick method of counting which preceded the invention of the balance sheet in 1492 (does government know ?). It doesn’t inform and is therefore not cost-effective. Potholes don’t happen in parcels of £500 nor get filled by let alone costed as individual payments. Since 1492 accountancy has evolved as a tool in keeping with needs. Cost and Management Accounting (CIMA is the professional body) are terms still not yet much in evidence in the government lexicon.

30.                      There is much information and data which as voters we would be confused by and don’t need however “transparent” because we are not and cannot be the deciders and operational users.

31.                      Under current permissive law the Annual Report can be delivered electronically provided the entitled recipient has given consent. The document must include those matters and disclosures required by law such as senior pay scales and much more ( to government inexplicably a separate novelty), but can be split so that an abbreviated version becomes with links a gateway to the more detailed data.

32.                      As reported in the Telegraph on 31st December a Surrey local authority has admitted that six of its elected members have not paid their council tax for three years. Voters are not allowed to know who they are and judge the financial management competence risk  yet other non-payers are pursued even to the Courts.

33.                      A news report (27th December 2014) is revealing: “Town Halls must spend their £21bn stash, says Pickles” referring to the figure (£21bn) of reserves “produced by the Office of Budget Responsibility”. He is talking about reserves which are created by over-providing (in council tax) for expenditure in a later period (not many people know that….it is profit by another name). There are these implications:
·         The source of the information is the OBR whereas the Treasury is supposed to be the National Government’s Financial Department. The latter has only recently started proper Accounts the probable factual source.
·         He is interfering in and second-guessing local financial judgement for which he is not accountable to the local residents concerned.
·         These reserves in aggregate affect the amount of national debt and deficit yet he is not exercising strategic managerial leadership at the level of his Department’s overall responsibility, except accidentally.

34.                      It is by no means assured that current reform of the civil service recognises that the archaic Treasury is the weakest link.  Julian Kelly is the new Director General of public spending and finance and the Review of financial management in government is not yet in force. Mr Kelly is not apparently to be alongside the new Chief Executive John Manzoni in cabinet and the ICAEW (Chartered Accountants) says “.the appointment…does not go far enough”. What are his chances when:
·                One of our interviewees (of Anthony king and Ivor Crewe in 2013-14 The Blunders of our governments p309), after a long and wide ranging discussion, said there was one important issue we had not raised. “What was that ?” we asked. “The Treasury”, he replied. He blamed the Treasury for almost all of Britain’s ills dating back over many decades and wondered aloud why an organisation that had presided for so long over such poor economic performance was still held in such high esteem. The short answer may be that, at least within Whitehall it is less esteemed than feared.”
·                “The archaically named Treasury is demonstrably 50 years out of date, operationally illiterate and backward in its accounting and financial management” (Peter Webb to first Lord of Treasury 13th June 2013, Who will mend UK government ?)

35.                   Therefore the absence of an Annual Report to citizens time aligned for elections is a negligent omission on the part of out-of-date government as has been weak financial management. The manifesto and Queen’s speech commitment might usefully include actions for BETTER GOVERNMENT.

6th January 2015