Your Councillors

AUDIT, GOVERNANCE AND

STANDARDS COMMITTEE

14th January 2019

 

Housing Benefit Grant Claim

 

Final Decision-Maker

Audit, Governance and Standards Committee

Lead Head of Service/Lead Director

Sheila Coburn, Head of Revenues and Benefits

Lead Officer and Report Author

Liz Norris, Business Support Manager

Classification

Public

Wards affected

All

 

Executive Summary

 

To consider the findings of the work undertaken by Grant Thornton to certify the housing benefit subsidy claim that the Council submitted for 2017-2018.

 

 

This report makes the following recommendations to Audit, Governance and Standards Committee

1.   That the findings of the Housing Benefit Grant Claim audit undertaken by Grant Thornton and planned action by the Revenues and Benefits Service be noted.

 

 

 

Timetable

Meeting

Date

Audit, Governance and Standards Committee

14 January 2019



Housing Benefit Grant Claim

 

 

1.††††† INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

 

1.1        Grant Thornton undertook work to certify the Housing Benefit grant claim for 2017/18 that was submitted by the Council with a value of £45.4 million.

 

1.2        In line with the standard work programme specified by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Auditors undertook a sample check of 40 housing benefit claims across the main areas of expenditure. They identified 4 errors.† As a result of the errors identified a further sample of 166 cases were checked with 7 further errors identified.† The total value of the errors identified was £823.00.

 

1.3        With the value of errors extrapolated across the subsidy claim a total gross adjustment of £34,024 was made, with the net effect being no change to the overall value of the claim submitted by the Council, due to the errors attracting the same rate of subsidy.† That error rate suggests the original claim as presented by the Council was 99.93% accurate.

1.4        The Revenues and Benefits Service carried out around 63,000 benefit assessments during 2017/2018 and whilst that work is undertaken with a high degree of accuracy, supported by robust quality assurance measures, a level of error is unavoidable.† It is commonplace for housing benefit grant claims to be qualified and this Council has a good track record in earlier certifications.

1.5        The level of adjustment as a result of the audit represents 0.07% of the total grant claim.† As specified in the claim (appendix 2) at cell 201 the DWP has an error threshold of 0.48%, essentially representing the level of error DWP considers reasonable.† Even after these adjustments, the total level of error in processing at the Council is 0.17%, well under this threshold.

 

1.6        The errors found and actions planned are summarised at appendix 3.

 

2.           AVAILABLE OPTIONS

 

2.1        This report is provided for information only.

 

 

3.        RISK

3.1    This report is presented for information only and has no risk

management implications.

 

4.††† CONSULTATION RESULTS AND PREVIOUS COMMITTEE FEEDBACK

 

4.1†† The report is provided for information only with no consultation required.

5.††† CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES AND IMPLICATIONS

 

 

Issue

Implications

Sign-off

Impact on Corporate Priorities

In maintaining effective financial controls the Council is able to confidently progress† its priorities

Head of Revenues and Benefits

Risk Management

The work undertaken by Grant Thornton† provides external assurance to the Council on the effectiveness of its controls †around accurate payment and recording of benefit expenditure

Head of Revenues and Benefits

Financial

The adjustments outlined have no impact on the net value of the Councilís claim and the level of error identified does not indicate any significant underlying control weaknesses.

Section 151 Officer & Finance Team

Staffing

No Impact

Head of Revenues and Benefits

Legal

No Impact

Head of Revenues and Benefits

Privacy and Data Protection

No Impact

Head of Revenues and Benefits

Equalities

No Impact

Head of Revenues and Benefits

Public Health

No Impact

Head of Revenues and Benefits

Crime and Disorder

No Impact

Head of Revenues and Benefits

Procurement

No Impact

Head of Revenues and Benefits

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.††† REPORT APPENDICES

 

The following documents are to be published with this report and form part of the report:

         Appendix 1: HB qualification letter

         Appendix 2: HB grant claim

         Appendix 3: Summary of errors & actions

 

 

7.††† BACKGROUND PAPERS

 

None