Overpayments sees more government accounts qualified by NAO

COMPTROLLER and auditor general Amyas Morse has qualified two more major sets of 2009-10 government accounts due to overpayments totaling up to £207m.

The social fund account was qualified for material errors in discretionary awards for Sure Start maternity grants, budgeting loans, crisis loans, community car grants and funeral expenses of between £82m and £130m.

Morse added a rider to this repeated qualification, limiting the scope of his opinion, because of National Audit Office concerns over the adequacy of evidence supporting the fund’s debt balance.

He also qualified the community legal service fund and criminal defence service accounts due to overpayments to legal aid providers estimated at almost £77m.

Morse said the social fund provided assistance to some of the most vulnerable in society and judgements were to some degree subjective, but there was a material level of error and a number of issues that the Work and Pensions department needed to address.

The bulk of the Legal Services overpayments involved £43.6m, due to legal aid workers over-claiming for work they did. Some 35% was due to incorrect claims by solicitors.


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