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Audit of HM Customs and Excise Systems and Accounts, 2001-2002

” Customs’ approach to the collection of revenue has shifted to focus on those traders presenting the greatest risk of non-compliance. In 2001-2002 they were able to identify £2.5 billion net underpayments, some 5 per cent more than in the previous year. But I was concerned to find that in the same year the amount of tax owing to Customs increased markedly. Customs’ latest debt figures show some signs of improvement, but they have a long way to go.

” It will be of concern to everyone that there have been serious weaknesses in Customs’ systems for holding and disposing of seized goods. Customs are implementing a range of measures to address these weaknesses but they could have been quicker to deal with serious underlying problems.”

11 Dec 2002
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Comptroller and Auditor General’s Standard Report on the Accounts of the Inland Revenue 2001-02

” It is important that the Department are learning the lessons from their experiences of the current tax credits to minimise similar problems in the new tax credits that are to operate from April 2003.

“They should also enhance their management information so that it is capable of demonstrating much more comprehensively their achievements in debt management and tax collection”.

9 Dec 2002
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Ministry of Defence: Major Project Reports 2002

“The Ministry of Defence is controlling costs and expects to meet the technical requirements of the armed forces in most cases. But delays continue to be a problem with some projects. The reasons for these delays are complicated – a mixture of over-optimism and systemic factors. The Ministry of Defence has made some progress in tackling these factors this year, and future Major Project Reports will provide evidence to assess further progress.”

4 Dec 2002
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Community Legal Service: the introduction of contracting

“I welcome the improvements that have been made to improve scrutiny of civil legal aid expenditure. However, I urge the Commission to clamp down faster on suppliers that overclaim. The Commission needs to look closely at the current pattern of service provision to ensure that, wherever possible, gaps are addressed.”

28 Nov 2002
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The Invest to Save Budget

“The ISB programme was set up to promote innovation and better working together by organisations. But departments’ management of ISB projects needs to be strengthened to form a better judgement as to whether projects are worth implementing more widely to improve services and efficiency. “

22 Nov 2002
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Ministry of Defence: Resource Accounts 2001-2002

“Although I have qualified my opinion on the Ministry of Defence’s 2001-02 Resource Accounts, this represents a significant improvement from last year. The MOD has successfully cleared two of the four substantive issues which were the basis for the qualification of my opinion on the 2000-01 Accounts and is progressing the remaining issues as fast as it can.”

21 Nov 2002
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.”

20 Nov 2002