CIPFA publishes first Wales balance sheet to boost financial transparency

26-11-2015

The first ever comprehensive study of the net financial position of devolved public sector services in Wales has been published today (26 November) by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

CIPFA’s Wales Balance Sheet, compiled using the financial statements of devolved public sector bodies, estimates that the country currently owns or controls around £42bn worth of assets and £23.6bn in liabilities.

Wales’ assets include £38.5bn long term assets including £15bn of ‘network’ assets such as roads, £15bn of assets held by local councils and £2bn worth of student loan debts. 

The Welsh public sector also controls £3.5bn of current assets including short-term investments, inventories and available cash or cash equivalents.

The Institute has also calculated that Wales owes £23.6bn in liabilities, the majority of which is made up of public service pensions - accounting for more than £14bn. This is split between the police (£7bn), local councils (£6bn) and fire and rescue authorities (£1.5bn).

The overall pensions liability figure for civil servants, NHS staff and teachers in the Welsh public sector are not available as they are currently reported at a UK wide or England and Wales level.

CIPFA produced the balance sheet – a key accounting tool for any organisation, government or country - by analysing recent audited financial information for individual public bodies, including central government, local councils and health trusts.

The public sector in Wales is not required to publicly report its overall financial position.

However, with the current level of scrutiny over proposed new fiscal powers for Wales, ongoing debates about the Barnett Formula and set against continued efforts across the UK to reduce the deficit, CIPFA hopes the Wales Balance Sheet will encourage greater financial transparency and accountability across the Welsh public sector.

Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive of CIPFA, said:

“We’re delighted to launch the first Balance Sheet for Wales - it represents an important step forward in encouraging greater financial transparency, accountability and reporting across the devolved public sector in Wales.

“This is all the more important given the significant changes that are happening in the Welsh public sector and the greater financial freedoms and powers that the Welsh Government is working to secure.

“We would urge politicians, policymakers and public sector professionals alike to make use of the balance sheet to ensure that the Welsh public are getting as clear a picture as possible of their national finances.” 

The balance sheet was formally launched at CIPFA Wales’ Annual Conference in Cardiff on 26 November.

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Notes to editors

For media enquiries contact the CIPFA press office on 020 7543 5830/ 5787 / 5675 or E: oliver.finegold@cipfa.org.

Previous CIPFA research estimated that Scotland has assets of £84bn and £100bn in liabilities while Northern Ireland has assets of £51.8bn and £51.3bn in liabilities.

Scotland’s Balance Sheet: 

http://www.cipfa.org/policy-and-guidance/reports/scotlands-future-in-the-balance

Scotland’s figures do not include pension liabilities for civil servants working for the Scottish government as they are reported only at a UK level.

Northern Ireland Balance Sheet:

http://www.cipfa.org/regions/northern-ireland/news/cipfa-publishes-first-northern-ireland-balance-sheet