National Audit Office
HC 1464, Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Session 2010-12
- National Audit Office (NAO)
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
In this report, 'Means Testing (HC 1464)', the National Audit Office (NAO) finds that means testing will be used extensively for the foreseeable future as it helps target state support at the people that need it most, but there is room for major reform.
The NAO highlights a number of drawbacks to means testing, including:
disincentives for recipients of means-tested benefits to return to work;
complex administration of benefits;
high costs; and
increased rates of fraud and error - incorrect declarations of earnings and errors by officials in calculating entitlements accounted for over half of all fraud and error in benefits and tax credits.
In light of proposed and ongoing reforms to benefits and related programmes, the NAO notes the importance of departments sharing good practice and learning from past experiences in the design of means tests. For example, HM Revenue and Customs has struggled in the past with unexpectedly large overpayments of tax credits (£9 billion between 2003-04 and 2009-10) because of the way that payments are determined under the legislation. Departments need to consider all of the impacts of means testing: for example, the burden on claimants, such as difficulty with completing forms and the cost of requesting advice.
There is a lack of coordination of, and overall accountability for, means testing across government, an example being the absence of an accountable body responsible for looking at how the impact of university fees will be influenced by wider means testing.
|Format||Paperback||Published||14 Sep 2011|
|Availability||Colour copy: 3 - 5 days||Delivery||Delivery options and charges|