PAC raises concerns about oversight of devolution deals

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has raised concerns over the oversight of devolution deals in England, warning that plans for proper accountability are not yet in place.

A report from the PAC said that it is ‘not confident’ that existing local arrangements for scrutinising devolved functions are adequate.

Additionally, the report also questioned the role of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), suggesting that many LEPs are not ‘meeting the basic standards of governance and transparency, such as disclosing conflicts of interest to the public’.

The PAC has called on the government to provide stronger leadership and greater clarity in multiple areas of the devolution process, including clearly setting out what it is trying to achieve by devolving services and where it believes that outcomes are a matter for local leaders to decide and where centrally imposed targets are more appropriate.

Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, said: “Parliament and the public must be assured that devolved spending is subject to effective scrutiny and there are clear lines of accountability for delivering value for money.

“These vital arrangements are still very much work-in-progress and must be confirmed as a matter of urgency.

She added: “It must be far clearer about what these deals are intended to achieve and set out in detail where accountability for areas of public spending will lie.

“The interests of taxpayers are paramount and we urge the government to act on our recommendations now to ensure devolution fully serves those interests."