Treasury fails to provide adequate analysis of Garden Bridge funding

Chair of PAC, Meg Hillier, has expressed her annoyance at Treasury for failing to provide analysis of the Garden Bridge business case with regards to how the project will be funded but instead providing a statement of the facts and a commentary

In a letter from Hillier to Tom Scholar, permanent secretary of the Treasury, she states that following the committees hearing on 17 October, which questioned Treasury about funding of the Garden Bridge, Treasury was asked to provide an analysis of the business case which was subsequently received on 17 November.

However, the piece received only confirmed the points raised at the hearing without analysis.

Hillier said: ‘I remain concerned about the risk to taxpayers' money and the commitments that were made to underwrite the project if it is cancelled.

‘Could you please provide the committee with what it asked for - namely an analysis of the business case rather than a statement of facts and a commentary. What you have provided does not meet the rigorous standards I would expect the Treasury to apply to its work.’

The supposed analysis provided by Treasury states the need for a pedestrian link between Temple station and Southbank which Hillier responded to saying: ‘This seems an extravagant solution to deal with a 'missing' walkway and given the suggestion that the bridge would be closed for up to 12 nights a year for private events does not seem to be one that addresses the issue.’

The Treasury failed to provide analysis on how the new bridge will boost tourism with Hillier expressing her concern at how the bridge will offer value for money.

She says: ‘The conclusion in the document states that ministers believed there was "a reasonable prospect of it delivering value for money". This was though dependent on two points, estimates on land values and overseas investment and the effective delivery of the project "as there were some significant deliverability risks".’

‘These are significant risks and I fail to understand how such an optimistic conclusion could be reached on delivering value for money. Given a ministerial direction was sought to grant funding this was obviously a view shared by DfT, that funding for the project is inherently risky.’

Meg Hillier’s letter to Tom Scholar is here. 

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