The hon. Member for South Norfolk, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission, was asked—
National Audit Office’s Estimate
In line with its statutory duties, the Public Accounts Commission sits formally to discuss the NAO’s main supply estimate, taking evidence from the Comptroller and Auditor General and other NAO officials. On 1 March last year, the Commission approved the NAO’s supply estimate for the financial year that will shortly end, and it also approved an adjustment in November to allow the NAO to enter into a lease in Newcastle. On 8 March this year, the Commission is due to consider the NAO’s supply estimate for the forthcoming financial year, which will end in March 2024.
The National Audit Office does superb work with penetrating analysis of public expenditure, but it now covers the greatest ever number of public sector organisations. Will the Public Accounts Commission take that into account when arriving at the estimate for next year?
Yes, it will. The National Audit Office is affected by inflation, which is now at 9.2%, as well as other cost pressures relating to its statutory role, including the greater work required by updated international audit standards and the fact that when more public bodies are created, they need to be audited. The Commission also notes that the NAO is competing against private sector audit firms in recruiting and retaining staff, and needs to take that into consideration. The Commission will discuss those issues in more detail when the NAO presents its main estimate on 8 March.