Friday, 15 February 2013

Benefits Certification Returns Qualified by Auditors - Again

NCC has had it's grant claim for Housing and Council Tax Benefits qualified by new auditors KPMG. This seems to be an ongoing issue.

Again, the problem appears to be incorrect classification of overpayments which, as I wrote about before, has an affect on how much central government pays the council towards its benefit expenditure. It may be that the DWP chases up the council for a return of up to £799k, which is just under  0.5% of total expenditure on benefits.

Last time this happened, Deputy Leader Graham Chapman was quite chilled about it, preferring to concentrate on the 99.53% that was classified correctly. However that's slightly misleading as the problem is concerned with the classification of overpayments (which account for a very small part of expenditure), so expressing the sum at risk as a percentage of ALL benefit expenditure is very much turning a frown into a smile.

What's more, pretty much every year the National Audit Office qualifies the DWP's accounts and that tends to be seen as pretty newsworthy, will it be the same locally?

Another thing to bear in mind is that, when it is found that CLAIMANTS fraudulently obtain 0.5% of a benefit's expenditure, as is the case with Disability Living Allowance, it is seen by successive governments, both Labour and Tory, as signifying the end of days. Yet when a local council fucks up to that extent, everybody remains relaxed.