Jobcentre accounts qualified by NAO

THE GOVERNMENT BODY that provides expenses support to low income people, including the Jobcentre, has had its accounts qualified for the eighth year running.

The National Audit Office has qualified the social fund White Paper Account for material errors in providing budgeting loans, crisis loans and community care grants and in funeral expense payments, with an estimated £114m in overpayments.

The main causes of irregularity in the fund’s accounts come from the JobCentre Plus’ “inability to provide the documentation needed to support cases selected for audit, and a failure to comply with regulations when making awards”.

Comptroller and auditor general Amyas Morse said that JobCentre Plus had made “good progress” but problems still existed that were material.

“Jobcentre Plus should continue work to address my concerns and I will continue to monitor progress,” stated Morse.

Jobcentre Plus believes that the continued high instance of error is due to the ongoing reorganisation of its process centre network, and that the inability to locate all documentation results from the large amounts of paperwork that have been moved between its offices during the year.

For the first time, the NAO has also qualified its opinion on cold weather payments due to errors, to the tune of £21.5m: a 5% error compared to none a year earlier.

Morse has removed his audit qualification for Sure Start maternity grants.

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