PracticePeople In PracticeBenefits Agency accounts get a black mark for 11th year in a row

Benefits Agency accounts get a black mark for 11th year in a row

The Comptroller and Auditor General has qualified his audit opinion on the Benefit Agency's Accounts for the eleventh time in a row.

Sir John Bourn’s action over the 1998-99 Appropriation Accounts follows hard on the heels of a Public Accounts Committee’s findings on his reports on the accounts for 1997-98 and earlier years involving a total of £2bn in `gross miscalculation’ of income support and job seekers’ benefits.

He said there had been ‘some improvement’ in accuracy in volume terms in both allowances, but identified a further increase in the gross level of error to £882m, with wide variations in different regions of the UK.

East London and Anglia, Chilterns and London South areas failed to reach 80% of accuracy, blaming difficulties recruiting and keeping quality staff and the increased complexity of assessments.

Only East Scotland exceeded the target rate of 87% for accuracy. Sir John said he did not under-estimate the scale of the agency’s task in tackling fraud and error, but ‘the levels of both are unacceptably high.’

Ministers urged to sack more NHS executives whose authorities get into financial difficulties

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