When I saw the COINS data that was published at the beginning of June, I suspected there was something missing.
I was therefore expecting to see the local council assets and accruals data of the sort that is recorded in the L-packs as well as central government spending captured annually in the C-packs. But it wasn’t there.
I conducted some more investigation, speaking to the team at the Whole Of Government accounts. There team is really quite small — only two people in Communities and Local Government WGA team and five or six people in the Treasury — but they do an amazing job of documenting all public assets and accruals. What is more, they have been running it every year for 10 years, each year gathering a detailed picture of local authorities financial health.
Anyway, based on my existing knowledge and my conversations with the WGA team and others, I can now confidently confirm the WGA is completely absent from the COINS data that was released. This means there is no reporting of local authority’s spending in COINS. A report from the WGA is planned spring next year. But I believe this will be at a very high level of detail — the sum of the whole government’s assets and accurals, not the details of individual authorities and departments.
I have requested the 2008/2009 WGA data, with the Department of Health and the Department of Defence data removed, as I believe these two departments may have failed the relevant audit.
Now we’ll wait to see what happens.