Feeds

UK taxpayers lose billions to errors, fraud and crap IT

Ill-judged re-orgs

High performance access to file storage

Large-scale errors and fraud in the benefits system cost the taxpayers an estimated £3bn in 2003-04, according to report from the Government's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Problems highlighted included customer and official errors, a complex benefits system and an ill judged IT re-organisation.

The recent move to form Jobcentre Plus and the Pension Service led to an increase in the level of errors by officials, says the report into the Department for Work and Pension (DWP) run system. Staff moving into unfamiliar roles and the introduction of new methods of working and IT systems led to a rise in mistakes, which could have been combated with a comprehensive programme of training and support for staff, says the report.

The DWP also needs to be able to retrieve customer records without "undue effort". The Department has taken steps to improve document storage and retrieval, but improvements are still needed to improve on the 1.3 per cent not being found. Computer logging of all new and existing files will help improve this figure, say the PAC.

Overpayments, which totalled £1.1bn by March 2004, are another stumbling block. With no satisfactory audit trail, not all benefit overpayments had been identified, some had been identified but not referred for recovery action, while others were awaiting input into the recovery systems.

Of the estimated £9bn overpaid on the last three years, only £550m has been recovered. The Department should give priority to increasing the rate at which debts are recognised and recorded, says the report, which calls on the DWP to tighten local office procedures so that all benefit overpayments are identified at source. New IT systems will also help, it adds. The DWP expect to complete the migration of existing data on debt to a new debt management system by September 2005, and believe in around two years' time it will have made substantial progress in improving the management of debt.

The PAC acknowledge that some progress has been made with fraud but it adds that there has been little change in levels of customer error, mainly because of the complexity of the benefits system. The report points out that the wholesale simplification of the benefits system would require major changes in policy, which could result in large increases in expenditure. Despite this, the Department has simplified the rules for some benefits such as Housing Benefit and Pension Credit, and should extend these efforts to other benefits. Rules, systems and processes should be made easier to understand for both staff and customers, say the PAC.

The report is here (403kb - PDF)

Copyright © eGov monitor Weekly

eGov monitor Weekly is a free e-newsletter covering developments in UK eGovernment and public sector IT over the last seven days. To register go here.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.