Protecting the public purse

Local government claims and returns 2011/12 – The Audit Commission’s report on certification work

For 2011/12, auditors appointed by the Audit Commission certified 1,230 claims and returns totalling £50.7 billion, providing assurance to grant-paying bodies that the grants and subsidies complied with relevant terms and conditions; agreed amendments to claims and returns totalling £36.9 million, comprising increases in value of £13.6 million and decreases of £23.3 million; issued 355 qualification letters, on 29 per cent of all claims and returns (78 per cent of claims for housing and council tax benefit subsidy); and continued to find areas where authorities could improve working papers and the supervision and review of claims and returns, to help reduce the number of errors and issues requiring attention.

2011/12 saw a fall in the value of amendments and number of qualification letters, due largely to fewer claims and returns requiring certification, however, the proportion of claims and returns that required amending or to be qualified rose. It is a matter of concern that 78 per cent of housing and council tax subsidy claims received qualification letters. These, together with auditors’ annual reports to those charged with governance, continue to identify opportunities for improvement. Authorities and grant-paying bodies should continue their work to ensure schemes’ terms and conditions are complied with, particularly when schemes change significantly, or are in their final year.

Local government claims and returns: The Audit Commission’s report on certification work 2011/12