Report on St Helena Financial Scrutiny Training Workshop

Over three weeks CPA UK organised virtual workshops on financial scrutiny, designed to meet the needs of St Helena’s Public Accounts Committee. Three separate sessions were delivered on 16 November, 30 November and 7 December 2020. Designed and delivered by Larry Honeysett, Head of Financial Scrutiny at the UK Parliament Scrutiny Unit, the main goal of the workshops was to improve knowledge and understanding of financial scrutiny in relation to three topics; Understanding Financial StatementsMeasuring Performance and Value for Money, and Approaches to Scrutiny and Questioning.

Day one began with an opening statement by Victoria Bower, Head of CPA UK’s International Partnerships Team, focusing on the work of the UK Overseas Territories Project and emphasising the importance of building the relationship between British Overseas Territories, the UK Parliament and CPA UK. The workshop then focused on the structure and purposes of financial statements and considered the differences between public and private sector statements. To round off day one, delegates learned about the role of the external auditor and their relationship to the Public Accounts Committee.

Day two centred on the topic of performance – including identification and appraisal of inputs, outputs and outcomes as well as making comparisons and evaluating value for money – to gain clearer understanding of how government spending relates to the actual delivery of objectives. Delegates explored the qualities of good Key Performance Indicators and the idea of assessing accountability and risk, by looking at specific examples from St Helena, including the responsibilities of the Financial Secretary.  

Day three concentrated on the programme life cycle and considered why, for effective scrutiny, it is critical to understand and target each stage of the cycle. Delegates were also provided with examples of approaches to questioning and developed an understanding on why it is crucial not only to make recommendations for improvement but also follow up to ensure that change occurs.

Day three concluded with words of thanks from Honourable Cyril Gunnel, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, who commented on how much the PAC has benefitted from the content of the workshops and looked forward to the positive outcomes moving forward as a result of the training.

To view the full report on this workshop, please click here.