Has the National Audit Office surrendered its independence to become the mouthpiece of the government?

Has the National Audit Office surrendered its independence to become the mouthpiece of the government?

18:08 PM, 20th January 2017, About 6 years ago 13

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NAOThe National Audit Office issued a report on housing in England on 19 January 2017. 

Its head was quoted in the press release:

“The need for housing in England has in recent years grown faster than its supply, and housebuilding needs to increase across the country.  The government has responded to this by putting in place a range of policies to increase housing supply and home ownership. Central to this is an ambition to increase the supply of housing by one million homes by 2020, largely through support to private housebuilders. Delivery of this target will not require a substantial increase in current levels of housebuilding.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 19 January 2017


This gives the comforting impression that the needed increase in supply is going to be met.  So everything’s all right then.

Except that one million homes will not reduce the housing shortage, because it will not even match increasing demand.  The National Audit Office report “Housing in England: overview” concerning the Department for Communities and Local Government does not mention this detail, even though it includes figures which would make it obvious.


“1.11 Housebuilding between 2011 and 2015 did not keep pace with demographic projections. Across England as a whole, it has been estimated that approximately 54% of the homes that were needed, according to the Department’s 2012-based household projections, were actually built.

The Department’s most recent projections imply that an additional 227,000 households will form in England each year between 2011 and 2021; substantially higher than the annual average of 166,000 extra homes in England over the last 10 years. Since 2011, the cumulative gap between the number of homes built and the number of households being formed has increased by 370,000.7

Footnote 7 reads: “The 2014-based household projections show an increase of 1,215,000 households between 2011 and 2016. There were 756,570 net additions to dwelling stock in the five years from 2011-12 to 2015-16, a difference of 368,000.”

I make it a difference of 458,000, unless the figures for the projected increase in households have been transposed and should be 1,125,000.

That is the estimated difference between the increase in demand and the increase in supply in five recent years, i.e. the increase in the housing shortage in that period.

However, the million is just an arbitrary figure.  A million would not even accommodate the additional 227,000 households a year that the Department projects.  Therefore the existing shortage that increased by 370,000 in the last 5 years alone will go up, not down.

This report appears to be propaganda, merely intended to confirm that the government’s ambition is achievable, even though they can see it is insufficient.

There is no indication of why the NAO has undertaken this work, which has avoided doing what the NAO is supposed to do.  Its remit is described on page 2:

“Our vision is to help the nation spend wisely. Our public audit perspective helps Parliament hold government to account and improve public services.

The National Audit Office scrutinises public spending for Parliament and is independent of government. The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), Sir Amyas Morse KCB, is an Officer of the House of Commons and leads the NAO, which employs some 785 people. The C&AG certifies the accounts of all government departments and many other public sector bodies. He has statutory authority to examine and report to Parliament on whether departments and the bodies they fund have used their resources efficiently, effectively, and with economy. Our studies evaluate the value for money of public spending, nationally and locally. Our recommendations and reports on good practice help government improve public services, and our work led to audited savings of £1.21 billion in 2015.”  (Emphasis added.)  That was my understanding of its role.

However, paragraph 3 states that “This report is designed to provide an overview of the housing market in England, the overall, cross-cutting public policy landscape, and the Department’s housing strategy. We have not assessed the merits of the government’s objectives or the value for money of any individual programme supporting these objectives. We do, however, comment on the ability of the government to achieve its ambition of delivering one million new homes. In addition, we seek to provide clear information on the housing landscape and the Department’s housing objectives. We aim for this report to lead to future studies that focus on particular aspects of housing policy, building on the work that we, and the Committee of Public Accounts, have carried out on the implementation of housing-related policies in recent years.” (Emphasis added.)

It looks like the NAO is as independent of the government as Mark Carney and the OBR are.

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Dr Rosalind Beck

20:41 PM, 20th January 2017, About 6 years ago

And, one might add, the Bank of England - as we know, Mark Carney also conveniently supported George Osborne's unfounded notion that BTL represented a danger to the economy, as he also did regarding Osborne's scaremongering about Brexit. The Bank is supposed to be independent of the Treasury. I have also heard Carney being interviewed, stating that the Bank bases its recommendations on evidence. Didn't bother when he set the scene for Osborne's attack on landlords. In fact, the LSE has been far more reputable in terms of basing its recommendations on evidence and the LSE clearly pointed out how the idea of BTL posing a risk to the economy was not evidence based.

We are seeing a pattern of the important institutions of this country being co-opted and dangerously linked to Government. They should take a leaf out of the IFS' book, as they 'fiercely guard' their independence and impartiality. I know this first-hand because whenever I have asked them to issue a statement supporting us they refuse! Luckily they do make their impartial statements from time to time however, which implicitly support our cause - not because we ask, but despite the fact that we ask.

Jay James

20:47 PM, 20th January 2017, About 6 years ago


They had it taken.


7:49 AM, 21st January 2017, About 6 years ago

Its a sign of a morally corrupt political elite that it has to force supposedly independent but respected organisations to spread its sophistry

Dr Rosalind Beck

9:44 AM, 21st January 2017, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Barry Fitzpatrick" at "21/01/2017 - 07:49":

I know, Barry. Actually, I hadn't bothered with politics for years so when this all erupted and we had to examine what was going on I was shocked. I thought it was just countries like Italy, Spain, Greece and the developing world who conducted politics and government this way. It's shameful that it is happening in the UK.

Michael Holmes

23:38 PM, 23rd January 2017, About 6 years ago

Whether the NAO is independant or not is frankly irrelevant in the context of what is happening to this country wih regard to immigration. As long as the borders are not properly policed and we have a continuous influx of immigrants we will always have a housing crisis and we will never catch up with the required number of houses. Every government falls back on a building boom to boost GDP and keep themselves in power. The result is an ever increasing urbanisation, loss of high grade farmland and cycles of boom and bust ad infinitum. We have been living beyond our means for years and I can't see that any of the currrent policies pursued by this or any other government is doing anything that will correct this.

The latest fiasco concerning the Trident program and the silence emanating from Theresa May about her knowledge about this failed test merely underlines what we have been talking about. The government looks after its own, they won't come clean about anything unless they are backed right into a corner

Chris @ Possession Friend

17:48 PM, 24th January 2017, About 6 years ago

What do you mean, ' become ' - it always has been !
It's a quango. Set up by Government.
Just look back at the response of the Financial Ombudsman when Landlords complained about the West Brom and others.
It's time for Political change. I think some Landlords need to join UKIP and get support to win seats.
I don't seee any other political party rushing to Landlords rescue, and I'm not saying ukip would, unless they're 'educated'
Difference is I believe they're capable of persuasion.
Sorry for delving into politics here, but I'm not convinced Landlords have any better options. - We might have some wiggle room on tax by clever use of some strategies, until the Govt catch on and block them, but that's only one line in many attacks there have been on Landlords, and everyone expects more to come, not less.

Simon Griffith

17:58 PM, 24th January 2017, About 6 years ago

I wrote to UKIP a month or so ago expressing my disdain with the 'mainstream' parties and highlighting the number of potential landlord voters now turned off by so called conservatives. I asked what UKIP's housing policy and PRS policy might be. I'm still waiting for a response. Sorry but I have learnt over the last year that all politicians are complete self interested, ill qualified, out of touch wasters - no wonder the best the most advanced country on earth could do was Trump - what a pathetic state of affairs. I shan't waste my time voting any more.

Chris @ Possession Friend

18:24 PM, 24th January 2017, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Simon Griffith" at "24/01/2017 - 17:58":

Simon, your right in much of what you say, I believe there's numerous issues that ukip haven't got a policy - strategy on yet. I think they're a relatively new party that needs developing and that there's scope for enough Landlords to do just that.
No party is going to satisfy all of anyone's concerns, but leaving the voting to others means you'll be left with what the majority of those who did bother, wanted.


18:27 PM, 24th January 2017, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Simon Griffith" at "24/01/2017 - 17:58":


I did the same over a year ago. I'm still waiting a constructive reply. They have no policy as far as the PRS is concerned, and weren't tempted by a possible 2m Landlord votes.

Simon Griffith

8:11 AM, 25th January 2017, About 6 years ago

Chris, I can't argue with what you say. Indeed I've always made the effort to vote in the past but the consequent betrayal my family and I have faced by the liberal elite masquerading as true conservatives (free marketeers believing that working hard should be rewarded accordingly) has made me very angry. Its the same old story the middle classes and indeed working classes forking out ever more to keep the n'er do wells in cider, fags and big tellies (no sign whatsoever of a clamp down on benefits paid out) and the very rich crack on. Whilst UKIP may offer some hope they do need to get their act together following the sterling work (!) they did on securing Brexit for the greater good of the country. I don't think they will cut the mustard which is a shame. As NW Landlord has said on this forum it's time to focus inward, look after your own and keep your head down ! Sad really.

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