UK Politics

Work and pensions staff mistakes 'cost £1.1bn'

Money
Image caption The National Audit Office says it is "frustrating" there had not been more progress in cutting mistakes

Errors made by staff at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) resulted in benefits over-payments of £1.1bn last year, according to official estimates.

The National Audit Office said there were also underpayments of £500m during 2009/10 because of poor administration.

National Audit Office head Amyas Morse said it was "frustrating" there had not been more progress in cutting mistakes.

It also estimates over-payments of £1bn were made last year due to fraud. The DWP paid out £148bn in total.

'Targeted'

Mr Morse said: "The department is clearly committed to reducing the cost of administrative error and it is frustrating that there has been no discernible reduction since 2007.

"Progress will depend on developing a better understanding of the costs and benefits of different interventions, so that they can be targeted more effectively and are able to achieve a significant reduction in the cost of administrative error."

In 2007 the DWP published a strategy for improving quality and reducing errors in the benefits system.

But the National Audit Office said over-payments made in 2009-10 equated to 0.7% of total benefit payments, the same as in 2007.

Underpayments as a proportion of expenditure changed from 0.4% to 0.3%.

However, the National Audit Office said this may "simply be due to the sampling process used - it is not sufficient to show any trend".