Legislation, reporting standard, and terminology

Legislation

The Public Finance Act 1989 and the Crown Entities Act 2004 require public organisations in central government to set out what they intend to achieve and how their performance will be assessed through their strategic intentions and annual performance objectives. Public organisations then must report on their progress and achievement in their annual report.

Reporting standard

PBE FRS 48 Service Performance Reporting (PBE FRS 48) is the relevant reporting standard (effective from 1 January 2022) and establishes generally accepted accounting practice and high-level requirements for reporting on service performance. This guidance will help public organisations to apply this standard and requirements.

PBE FRS 48 requires service performance information to provide contextual information on why the public organisation exists, what it intends to achieve in broad terms, and what was done during the reporting period towards its broader aims and objectives.

It also sets out principles for the selection, measurement, aggregation, and presentation of this service performance information. In particular, it requires public organisations to apply the qualitative characteristics of performance information and the pervasive constraints identified in the Public Benefit Entities’ Conceptual Framework.

The qualitative characteristics are:

  • relevance;
  • faithful representation;
  • understandability;
  • timeliness;
  • comparability; and
  • verifiability.

The pervasive constraints are:

  • materiality;
  • cost-benefit; and
  • balance between the qualitative characteristics.

Public organisations are required to report on progress against their strategic intentions. A public organisation's strategic intentions can relate to different elements of its performance, such as its outcomes, impacts, outputs, and capability.

Terminology 

A public organisation's strategic intentions can relate to different elements of its performance, such as outcomes, impacts, outputs, and capability.

Although outcomes and impacts are not terms used in the accounting standard or legislation, public organisations frequently use these terms in their performance reporting. We also use these terms to describe the immediate and longer-term benefits a public organisation intends to achieve through its services.