Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Helping the Nation Spend Wisely

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Helping the Nation Spend Wisely

Article excerpt

Byline: By Andrew Jackson

Paying tax might be a fact of life, but who actually makes sure the Government is held to account for the money it spends?

As the Parliamentary watchdog, the National Audit Office plays a crucial role in making sure that money spent on public services in the United Kingdom is spent wisely.

And, in turn, money spent on the running of the NAO is good value.

For years the NAO has saved the taxpayer pounds 8 for every pounds 1 it costs to run.

Recently this target was increased to save pounds 9 to the taxpayer for every pounds 1 spent on running the office.

As well as examining Government department accounts, the NAO carries out studies looking at the value for money on a range of topics from the Olympic Games to NHS consultants.

But the process of monitoring Government spending doesn't stop there. Once reports are produced, Parliament's all-party Public Accounts Committee (PAC) holds a hearing and invites evidence from senior Government officials and other expert witnesses on the issues.

The Government formally responds to the report the PAC produces and accepts almost all its recommendations. The end results are saved money and improved public services.

The opening of a new office in Newcastle is an important milestone in the history of the NAO. This is the first time that the NAO will have such a substantial presence in England outside London. Although there has long been a team based in Newcastle, the decision has now been made to base around 90 people in the city ( representing around a 10th of the NAO's total staff and a sixth of our mainstream audit staff.

The office works in parallel with the London office and as such carries out the full range of audit functions.

Staff working in Newcastle, therefore, have opportunities to work on financial audit and investigative studies covering a wide range of policy across Government departments and other bodies. …

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