Nearly two years ago now I wrote about how NCC's Housing Benefits service were clobbered by the Audit Commission for overclaiming central government subsidy for paying benefit claims. I subsequently discovered that there had already been a heads up on the issue from NCC's own Internal Audit team who expressed alarm about 'experienced staff' shortcutting the process for classifying overpayments, one of the issues that had led to the criticism from the Audit Commission.
There was some talk about challenging the Audit Commission's original statement that £2m worth of subsidies had been overpaid but then it all went a bit quiet. It was down to the Dept for Work and Pensions to decide on the final amount and whether it should be recovered.
I've now managed to get hold of the final figure for the amount that was overpaid and it comes to £408,655, a considerable reduction on that initial estimate. Initially the DWP appeared to want £683,543 back but NCC challenged this further. You get the feeling the DWP gave in just for a quiet life.
So, NCC had to repay over £400k in Housing Benefit subsidy in circumstances that Internal Audit described as 'shortcutting' the correct procedures. To put that into context, they had found only £300k in claimant fraud over the same period of time. I wonder how much sympathy claimants would get for 'shortcutting' the claims procedures?
Still getting that down from £2m is quite an achievement, wonder why we didn't see a nice big press release about their efforts?
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