The relationship between Defra and its arm’s-length bodies (ALB) is established through a Framework Document which has been agreed between each ALB and Defra to exercise meaningful oversight of the ALB’s strategy and performance, pay arrangements and/or major financial transactions, e.g. by monthly returns, standard delegations and exception reporting. Defra’s accounts consolidate its ALBs, so Defra’s accounting officer must be satisfied that the consolidated accounts are accurate and not misleading.
Defra’s ALBs are required to submit to Defra, on an annual basis, an annual report and audited accounts prepared in accordance with the relevant statutes and guidelines. The annual report and accounts provide Defra with the financial and non-financial performance of the ALB. In addition, they will state if the ALB has met key performance indicators as set out in their business and corporate plans. The report and accounts of each ALB are independently audited and are laid in Parliament and, where commercially possible, made available on the ALB’s website. The consolidated Defra group accounts are audited by the National Audit Office, laid in Parliament, and published on Defra’s website.