Public Accounts Committee raises ‘grave concerns’ over BEIS preparation for Brexit

The Public Accounts Committee has said it is ‘alarmed’ over the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s planning for Brexit. The PAC said that although BEIS’s work streams were among the most affected of any department, it has made little attempt to re-order its priorities, and although it has recruited staff, they ”lack the required level of experience and expertise to deliver a very challenging programme of work at pace”.

BEIS has 68 Brexit-related work streams with around 150 statutory instruments that have to pass through parliament, as well as its 120–130 business-as-usual statutory instruments, in the next two years. The PAC said, “Its work streams are significant and complex and yet we have no detail on what the work streams are, how critical they are, nor the progress being made against them.


“It has also not planned any contingency to resort to in the event that the legislation it has proposed is not passed by Parliament.”

IT was identified as a major issue. A dozen work streams require new digital systems to replace databases shared by the UK and EU. BEIS has only recently started the process of setting out the system requirements and will begin procurement over the next two or three months.  What is more, as they may have to serve a range of scenarios tied to the outcome of the negotiations, BEIS does not know the requirements for new systems. For example if the outcome of the negotiations on the emissions trading scheme means it has to build a trading system, then a much more complicated IT system will be required. PAC said BEIS, “acknowledged the added challenge of working with multiple scenarios and the implication on procuring its IT systems”. It also had to overcome “a historical lack of digital skills”.

The PAC said BEIS has one of the most significant and important workloads of any department, including 21 priority workstreams. It wanted an update in two months on progress, including current risks ratings and progress against high-level milestones.