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Does anyone understands public sector body accounts?

While the government may say that it has a desire to make the accounts of public sector bodies much more accessible and transparent in order to allow them to be understood by everyday citizens, industry experts say that no one truly understands these accounts – not even the managers of these public bodies.

Public sector accountants are hard at work putting the finishing touches on statutory accounts for the just ended financial year, making it an excellent time to ask if all the expense, complexity, and effort of producing these accounts – notoriously costly and difficult to expand – is worth it in the long run.  It is a necessity for public bodies to produce accounts in some form or another, but with the costs associated with the preparation and dissemination of these accounts, industry experts have been asking who are actually using these accounts and whether they will – or even have the ability to – glean any information that’s of use to them.

The ugly truth is that there’s nothing that suggests these accounts are valuable or useful in any way whatsoever, some experts say.  Accountants and public sector managers routinely respond in the negative if asked if they have ever perused the statutory financial accounts of, say a local NHS trust or local authority – not as professionals, but as ordinary citizens – with many admitting they simply have no comprehension of the accounts if they do take the time to look at them.  Experts feel that if these accountants and managers, with their highly specialised training, lack the ability to decipher the complexities of these documents, there is no way that the everyday citizen and taxpayer be expected can glean even the slightest bit of useful information from them.

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