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Report cover showing coal miners

Coal Health Compensation Schemes

“The former Department of Trade and Industry has settled some 575,000 coal health compensation claims which in itself would be a major achievement, but it did not prepare itself properly for introducing the schemes for these two serious mining related injuries. In the early stages the consequences were significant. The taxpayer has paid too much in administration costs and many claimants, some of whom are elderly and infirm, have had to wait a long time for their compensation.

“But the Department also showed what can be achieved once it started to get its act together. These schemes illustrate important lessons for other government departments when establishing and implementing future compensation schemes.”

18 Jul 2007
Report cover showing trawlerman

The compensation scheme for former Icelandic water trawlermen

Todays report highlights a number of problems experienced by the Department while implementing its compensation scheme for Icelandic water trawlermen. The scheme had evident shortcomings that inhibited efficient and effective delivery of the scheme objectives. Better preparation by the Department prior to launching the scheme would have put it in a much stronger position to deliver an effective service to claimants.

The Ombudsman highlighted, in her report in February 2007, a lack of Government guidance on designing compensation schemes. It is important that other departments learn the lessons outlined in our report so that the same mistakes are not made again.

29 Jun 2007
Report cover showing kitchen utensils

Benchmarking and market testing the ongoing services component of PFI projects

“It is important that public officials test the cost and quality of facilities services to get value for money during the life of a PFI contract. My report highlights lessons in how value-testing should be carried out. In particular, public officials must have the necessary skills, must promote vigorous competition when value testing, and they must have a full understanding of whether and how the private sector’s price and service proposals offer value for money.”

The report recommends that the recent Treasury guidance be taken up by departments and that the Treasury should continue liaising with departments to identify suitable cost data to use in benchmarking. The NAO also urges that further steps should be taken to compare the cost and quality of facilities services under the PFI with conventional outsourcing experience.

6 Jun 2007
Report cover showing a signpost

The Shareholder Executive and Public Sector Businesses

“Despite the Shareholder Executive’s limited powers, it has up to now provided good value for money to parliament and the taxpayer. The Executive has gone a long way in improving how government acts as a shareholder and should be commended for this.

“However, a number of barriers have been identified that could lead to future inefficiencies; and improvements could be made to the way in which the Executive’s performance is measured. The Government should take on board our recommendations if it is to build on its early work and set stretching targets for increasing the value of all public sector businesses”

28 Feb 2007
Report cover showing a weir

Ofwat – Meeting the demand for water

“A good understanding of the needs of water consumers should be at the heart of Ofwat’s regulatory regime. The regulator must work to achieve robust and reliable data on how consumers use water and on how effective water efficiency projects are in conserving water. This data can then be used to underpin its regulatory decisions.

“In the case of leakage problems in the Thames region over the last six years, Ofwat has now taken direct action with a view to protecting the consumer. It must ensure, in future, that its enforcement actions are timely and focused on the consumer.”

19 Jan 2007
Tax slotting into the jigsaw

Helping newly registered businesses meet their tax obligations

“Newly registered businesses are a diverse group, ranging from those setting up in business for the first time to those with previous business experience, so increasing tax compliance among this group requires a flexible approach which targets the differing needs of businesses. Pursuing the recommendations highlighted in this study will help HM Revenue and Customs in further improving the ability of new businesses to deal with their tax affairs.

Introducing a unique tax identifier would require substantial resources but could also result in substantial benefits, enabling HMRC to view the entire tax affairs of individual businesses and achieve a better understanding of the needs of different groups of taxpayers.”

6 Dec 2006
Report cover showing a baton being passed between hands

HM Revenue & Customs: ASPIRE – the re-competition of outsourced IT services

“The Department successfully completed the first major re-competition of a large public sector IT contract and transfer from one supplier to another without a loss in service to the taxpayer. In doing so they spent £75m on procurement and transition. The Department’s reason in this case to pay part of the bid costs and to contribute to the costs of transition was to encourage competition.

“My report highlights useful lessons from HM Revenue & Customs’ experience of ASPIRE for other government departments in re-competing major contracts and managing transitions.”

19 Jul 2006
Report cover image showing illustration of the globe and internet terminology

VAT on e-commerce

“I find it encouraging that HM Revenue and Customs is well positioned to manage the current risks to VAT from electronic commerce. With internet sales set to mushroom in the next few years, the Department faces a challenge to ensure it stays ahead of the game. Some businesses are inventive at side-stepping VAT, and the Department must be equally innovative in guaranteeing the Exchequer gets the revenue it is due.”

26 May 2006