Housing benefits subsidy errors totalled £124k last year

Posted On 12 Jan 2016 at 5:30 pm

Housing benefits subsidy errors totalled an estimated £124,000 in the past financial year, according to an auditor’s report.

And Brighton and Hove City Council may have to pay back the money to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The errors amounted to less than 0.1 per cent of the £164 million which the council handled on behalf of the DWP.

The report by Paul King, from Ernst and Young, to the council’s Audit and Standards Committee, said: “Local government administers the government’s housing benefits scheme for tenants and can claim subsidies from the DWP towards the cost of benefits paid.

Council repairs

“We found errors in all benefit types caused by the incorrect consideration of claimant income in the assessment of benefit entitlement and carried out three sets of extended testing covering housing revenue account rent rebates, non-housing revenue account rent rebates and rent allowances.

“The extended testing identified a number of further cases across all benefits types where similar errors had occurred in the consideration of claimant income in the assessment of benefit entitlement.

“We extrapolated the financial impact of our findings to determine the total financial impact of the errors on the claim. The total value of extrapolated errors was £124,160.

“We reported the extrapolated value of these errors to the DWP in a qualification letter.

“The DWP then decides whether to ask the council to carry our further work to quantify the error or to claw back the benefit subsidy paid.

“The errors found in the consideration of claimant income in the assessment of benefit entitlement were pervasive across benefit types and are consistent with the previous period where the council was required to undertake further work by the DWP.

“The council should seek to improve its performance in this area.”

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