Home Office ‘fitter for purpose’

By Alex Stevenson

An influential Commons committee has praised improvements in the Home Office’s financial management, three years after the department was declared “not fit for purpose” by then home secretary John Reid.

The public accounts committee said the Home Office had improved so much it was being extolled as an example of good progress in the civil service by the Cabinet Office.

Chairman Edward Leigh said the department had “come a long way since 2006 when its basic financial systems and processes were in disarray”.

He said there had been “great improvement” but said that sound financial management had still not yet been established at all levels.

“Things are going in the right direction. The department must build on the momentum it has achieved,” Mr Leigh added.

Among the breakthroughs achieved by the Home Office was its decision to employ, in the words of the PAC report, “capable professionally qualified accounting staff”.

Mr Reid’s decision to declare his department unfit eventually led to its split. Responsibilities for the courts were handed to a new Ministry of Justice, which also assumed the duties of the Department for Constitutional Affairs.