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Report cover showing a futuristic mobile phone

Radiocommunications Agency : The Auction of Radio Spectrum for the Third Generation of Mobile Telephones

The £22.5 billion auction of radio spectrum for the third generation of mobile telephones was well designed and efficient, Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, told Parliament today. Key success factors were that the Radiocommunications Agency marketed the opportunity and consulted the Industry extensively before the auction, rehearsed it, managed the bidding … Read more

Published:
19 Oct 2001
Report cover showing patients and doctor in waiting room

Inpatient and Outpatient Waiting in the NHS

The need for wider implementation of good practice to manage and reduce waiting lists and times in the NHS in England is highlighted today in a National Audit Office report. In March 2001 some 42,000 patients had been waiting more than 12 months for admission to hospital, and there are large inequalities across the country … Read more

Published:
26 Jul 2001
Report cover

NHS (England) Summarised Accounts 1999-2000

In a report to Parliament today, head of the National Audit Office Sir John Bourn gave the results of his annual examination of the 19 summarised accounts which cover the financial activities of the NHS in England. Sir John’s opinion on each of the 19 summarised accounts was unqualified. The report drew attention, however, to … Read more

Published:
12 Jul 2001
Report cover showing person filling out tax form

Inland Revenue: Income Tax Self Assessment

“The self assessment system is providing an effective framework for managing the risks associated with the assessment and collection of tax. The system has improved the administration of income tax by making assessments more straightforward and by allowing a more focused approach to compliance work.

“However, the Inland Revenue need better management information to assess the effectiveness of the system and to identify areas for improvement as they continue to develop their approach.”

The main findings in the report are as follows.

Identifying potential taxpayers

Individuals have an obligation to notify the Inland Revenue of taxable income and gains. Some will fail to do so, for example ‘ghosts’ and ‘moonlighters’ operating in the hidden economy. The Department’s intelligence work identified some £22 million additional tax in 1999-00 by identifying people not registered for tax.

The Inland Revenue have recently reorganised the way they approach intelligence work. They have set up specialist teams to improve the focus of the work, are increasing the scope and scale of data-matching to identify non-compliance, and are planning to improve the way they collate the results. These changes should also provide the Department with better management information to assess the effectiveness of work at national and local level.

Getting in tax returns

Around 90 per cent of the 9 million tax returns issued each year are filed by the 31 January deadline. The Department estimate that there is potentially between £150 million and £300 million at risk from returns which remain outstanding after automatic £100 penalties have been applied.

The report recommends that the Department should develop their management information to monitor the use of automatic £100 penalties, daily penalties and estimated tax assessments to assess whether these incentives are effective and that they are being used appropriately. The Department are carrying out research into patterns of taxpayer behaviour which should help identify ways in which the current arrangements might be improved.

Carrying out enquiries

The Inland Revenue enquire into tax returns to deter and detect non-compliance. Using new powers, they have carried out enquiries into a random sample of tax returns. The results of this work are providing valuable information about the level and pattern of non-compliance in the taxpayer population as a whole. Results from the first two years, while not providing a definitive view, have, nevertheless, confirmed that substantial sums are at risk.

The self assessment system has enabled the Inland Revenue to introduce a greater uniformity in approach to addressing higher-risk aspects of individuals’ tax affairs and there is now a structured approach to risk assessment and the selection of cases for enquiry. The Department are continuing to develop their approach and in April 2001 introduced specialist teams to carry out risk assessment work. They have also analysed yield from completed enquiries to identify features which will be used to make a central selection of cases for enquiry in 2001-02.

Published:
5 Jul 2001
Report cover showing a royal helicopter

Royal Travel by Air and Rail

In the three years since the Royal Household took over responsibility for managing its own air and rail travel, the cost of such travel has reduced by two thirds. However, as a result of the National Audit Office’s enquiries, the basis of charging by the Ministry of Defence for royal use of the RAF’s 32 … Read more

Published:
22 Jun 2001
Cover picture

Sampling guide

This is a practical guide outlining the general steps undertaken in financial and VFM audit when sampling a population. The guide shows the different sampling methods and when they are suitable, calculating sample sizes and evaluating results.

Published:
1 Jun 2001
Cover of National Insurance Fund Account 1999-2000

National Insurance Fund Account 1999-2000

Section 161 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 requires me to examine and certify the National Insurance Fund Account and this report records the results of my examination of the 1999-2000 account.

Published:
4 May 2001
Report cover showing surgeons operating on a patient

Handling Clinical Negligence Claims in England

“The human and financial costs of clinical negligence are enormous. At the end of March 2000, some 23,000 claims for clinical negligence were outstanding. The net present value of known and anticipated claims at that date was £3.9 billion. Many claims have been outstanding for a long time, and the present system is a slow and inefficient way of resolving small and many medium size claims.

“The Litigation Authority and the Legal Services Commission are making improvements to the way they handle claims. Implementation of our recommendations should provide patients with improved access to remedies, speed up settlements and cut legal costs.”

Published:
3 May 2001