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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 older people using technology

Progress in Making e-services Accessible to All: Encouraging use by Older People

“Older people are major users of public services but, as a section of society, are far less likely to access those services electronically. However, these e-services are potentially a great boon to older people many of whom have mobility problems, have difficulty in gaining access to sources of information, live alone or want to remain independent and involved.

“If government is to take full advantage of the potential of technology, it must make sure its e-services are accessible to all and work to avoid a ‘digital divide’. More older people would be willing to use new technologies if they saw the benefit to them of doing so. The Office of the e-Envoy, Departments and agencies have a key role to play in publicising the benefits of e-services and providing older people with the encouragement and facilities to use them.”

Published:
20 Feb 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 showing two people cycling

Opra: Tackling the risks to pension scheme members

“Opra has achieved much since they were established in 1995. But, as it and the Government now recognise, it needs to move from handling a large number of small scale reports to focus more on identifying and mitigating the more serious risks faced by members of pension schemes. Opra’s enthusiasm for change will be an important asset during a time of general development in the regulatory environment for work-based pensions”.

Published:
6 Nov 2002
Report cover showing young people's images on playing cards

The New Deal for Young People

“The New Deal for Young People has been successful in placing 339,000 unemployed young people into jobs, and the programme has also had a beneficial effect on the economy.

“The programme must continue to evolve to meet the needs of the increasing proportion of clients with severe or multiple barriers to employment and the changing economic climate. It is therefore vital that the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus continue to monitor and evaluate the programme’s effectiveness. In particular, they must evaluate the changes introduced to the programme to ensure that it continues to help these vulnerable young people and provide good value for taxpayers’ money.”

Published:
28 Feb 2002
Report cover

Teachers’ Pension Scheme (England and Wales) Resource Account 2000-2001

Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, today reported to Parliament on the 2000-2001 Teachers’ Pension Scheme (England and Wales) Resource Account. He has limited the scope of the audit opinion because the Managers of the Scheme were unable to provide him at the date of his opinion with sufficient evidence to support … Read more

Published:
8 Feb 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