Thursday, April 20, 2006

Billions More Squandered


As we've blogged previously, the Department for Work and Pensions is a basket case in terms of financial management. Its accounts have been qualified for each of the last fifteen years, and on its own admission it loses £3bn pa to fraud.

Today we get some gruesome details on DWP overpayments- ie their own incompetence in calculating entitlements:

"Last year the total overpaid in income support - an income-related benefit paid to low earners aged between 16 and 60 - was £200 million, up from £140 million two years before. The total income support overpayment since Tony Blair entered Downing Street is now £1.17 billion.

The total overpayment for the jobseekers allowance...since 1997 is £910 million.

These figures are in addition to tax credit overpayments of £1.9 billion last year and pension credit overpayment which has more than trebled since 2001/02 to £130 million last year."

Of course, it's unfair to blame it all on DWP incompetence: the fiendish complexity of Brown's credit and benefit system would defeat even the best of Britain's brains. And they most assuredly do not work at the DWP.

But whoever should be blamed, totting everything up, DWP's annual losses to fraud and overpayment are equivalent to about 1p on our standard rate of income tax.

It is truly appalling.

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