Headlines: July 29th, 2010

The Audit Commission says it found £54.5 million of errors in claims for grants and subsidies made by councils in 2008/9. However, most claims by local authorities were completed correctly.

In a report issued today, the Commission says that councils claimed £45.6 billion pounds for funds including council tax and housing benefit, Sure Start money, and funding for major projects in local transport plans.

While most claims for grants and subsidies have been completed in line with the terms and conditions set by grant-paying bodies, there were corrections of £54.5 million as a result of Audit Commission auditors’ work.

The figure for adjustments is £16 million more than last year, although £9.4 million was an adjustment to a single claim by one- unnamed- council, and the Commission says this does not reflect poorer performance by councils.

Negative adjustments accounted for almost £32 million of the total, while there was £22.5 million of positive adjustments. Housing and council tax benefits are a particular concern, with issues attibuted to the complexity of the system and the volume of claims. Overall, however, the Commission says that many authorities need to improve their practices.

Martin Evans, the Audit Commission’s Managing Director of Audit, said: “Our auditors’ work gives assurance to central government and other bodies that pay out grants and subsidies. We’ve made sure claims and returns were completed properly and pointed out where the amounts claimed or reported were based on inaccurate information.”