UK lawmakers say new health agency had poor financial management


LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) – Britain’s health and safety agency has such weak financial controls that parliament can’t prove that funds are being spent as intended, lawmakers said Wednesday in a critical report. became clear.

UKHSA responded to criticism by saying it was set up to take over public health and health protection responsibilities in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic and has now improved its governance.

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee said it failed to properly account for £3.3 billion ($4.2 billion) of the country’s coronavirus testing and tracking system inventory after it was transferred to the UKHSA.

Commission Chair Meg Hillier said, “It is absolutely extraordinary that an institution envisioned as the cornerstone of our collective security was established with leadership stymied by a lack of formal governance. It is.”

The UKHSA chief acknowledged that there were initial problems due to the “unprecedented circumstances” at the time of its creation, and that while he had taken account and financial management “very seriously”, “the existing Serious issues with accounts had taken over.” autonomy. “

UKHSA took over from Public Health England as the government sought to consolidate several public health functions into one body, including those related to pandemic response.

“We have already put a strong governance structure into place in a highly complex organisation, at the earliest opportunity within our available controls,” UKHSA CEO Jenny Harries said in a statement. Stated.

“This advancement represents a significant shift in our organization in terms of stability, governance and financial management.”

He added that the organization is working with the government to “ensure the robustness of our accounting, both now and in the future,” and that it is meeting its mandate despite the financial challenges it has inherited. .

(1 dollar = 0.7859 pounds)

Reported by Alistair Smout.Editing: William James

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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