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Cover of report

Child Support Agency Client Funds Account 2003-2004

“Once again I have had to qualify this account because of the high levels of historic error in maintenance assessments that completion of the Child Support Agency’s reforms are intended to remove. The operation of the new arrangements with their simplified methodology for calculating maintenance assessments has so far been disappointing. In 2003-2004, the first year of operation of the reform programme, the accuracy of maintenance assessments has not matched performance levels under the old scheme.

“I intend to report later on what the Agency is doing to achieve its agreed targets and to provide a faster and improved service to all parties and to complete the Reform programme.”

Published:
22 Jul 2004
Report cover

Northern Ireland National Insurance Fund 2002-2003

“I have qualified this account because of high levels of estimated fraud and official error in the payment of benefits from the Northern Ireland National Insurance Fund. I note the measures being taken by the Department to reduce fraud and error, and will review progress as part of my audit of the 2003-04 account to see whether the desired outcomes are being achieved.”

Published:
21 May 2004
Cover of report

Department of Work and Pensions: Departmental Resource Accounts 2002-2003

“The amount of welfare benefit being lost through fraud and error is continuing to run at an estimated £3 billion each year. Once again I must point out that Parliament intends that this money should go only to those who are properly entitled. The challenge which the Department faces in reducing the scale of fraud and error to an acceptable level is very large indeed. However, it is crucial that as much of the money as possible goes to those who are in real need.”

Published:
16 Dec 2003
Report cover showing social security worker

Getting it right, putting it right – Improving decision-making and appeals in social security benefits

“While more than 90 per cent of payments are accurate, more than a fifth of the Department of Work and Pensions thousands of decisions each day on benefits contain errors. Although the number represents less than one per cent of decisions, a quarter of a million people a year go to an appeal tribunal and 40 per cent of these cases are changed in favour of the customer. Customers are also having to wait too long for the outcome. The Department could not only reduce the number of cases where customers have to go through stressful appeals but also save money for the taxpayer, if they got more decisions right first time and put right errors effectively.

“The Department should make improving decision-making a priority in their ongoing programme of organisational change. By focusing more on good quality evidence and effective communication, and setting minimum service standards, they can help to ensure that customers across the country know what to expect from the system and have increased confidence in it.”

Published:
7 Nov 2003
Cover of report

Child Support Agency Client Funds Account 2002-2003

“I have had to qualify this account yet again because maintenance assessments are still subject to high levels of error. I therefore welcome the implementation earlier this year of the Agency’s reform programme with its new, simplified methodology for calculating maintenance assessments.

The Agency believes that this will result in more accurate assessments and provide other associated benefits. The new programme has been operating for only four months and it is too early for me to assess the success of the reforms. I intend to consider their impact in my audit of the 2003-04 account.”

Published:
16 Jul 2003
Report cover showing a fraud officer

Department for Work and Pensions: Tackling Benefit Fraud

“The Department have a set of programmes that are designed to make fraud more difficult to commit, increase deterrence, increase the probability of frauds being detected and have increased the penalties for committing fraud. These programmes have produced some good results but more needs to be done to maintain progress. Amongst other actions the Department should continue to concentrate on areas of higher risk, address the decline in the fraud prevention and investigative activity, and evaluate the deterrent effect of the different sanctions available.”

Published:
13 Feb 2003
Cover of report

Department for Work and Pensions Resource Account 2001-02

“It is of the highest importance that money which Parliament has made available for welfare benefits is paid accurately only to those people who have proper entitlement and are in real need. Although the Department has taken significant steps to reduce the level of estimated fraud and error in recent years, the scale of losses remains substantial at £3 billion each year. The Department face a considerable challenge in reducing these losses further to an acceptable level.”

Published:
7 Feb 2003
Report cover showing pensioners

Tackling pensioner poverty: Encouraging take-up of entitlements

“Many tens of thousands of pensioners who live in poverty each year miss out on benefits to which they are entitled but which they fail to claim. Taking up these entitlements can have a significant effect on the lives of these pensioners since much of the additional money is spent on a range of essential items such as nutritious food and clothing.

“The Department for Work and Pensions have made a start in addressing this situation, by making it easier to claim Minimum Income Guarantee and by establishing The Pension Service, but clearly more could be done. The Pension Service cannot tackle the problem of non-take up on its own. Others who provide services for pensioners such as local authorities and the voluntary sector also have an important role to play to encourage them to claim the money to which they are entitled.”

Published:
20 Nov 2002
Report cover

Department of Social Security Resource Accounts 2000-2001

“Despite the success that the Department has had in exceeding the targets they have been set to reduce the estimated overpayment of Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance, large amounts of these benefits are still being lost through fraud and error.

“Income Support is the benefit of last resort for those most in need in society. This makes it essential for the Department to make accurate and prompt payments while also protecting the public purse. I welcome the strategies being adopted by the Department to strengthen its defences against loss of this benefit and address variations in performance in local offices.”

Published:
31 Jan 2002
Report cover showing a doctor talking to an elderly patient

The Medical Assessment of Incapacity and Disability Benefits

“This has been an innovative project for the Department of Social Security, involving the outsourcing of a service which is close to the department’s core business. The Benefits Agency medical service was underachieving and operated within tight resource constraints. Outsourcing has cut costs and speeded up the processing of the work, but the Department, with SEMA Group, must concentrate on improving the quality of assessments and customer service.

“Bottlenecks and delays throughout the system for paying these benefits also need to be addressed. The aim should be to ensure that disability benefits are speedily paid to those entitled to them, as well as reducing losses to the public purse from payments to those who are no longer eligible for benefit.”

Published:
9 Mar 2001