Some people claim that EU spending is fraudulent. However:
- The Court of Auditors has signed off on the EU’s accounts for every year since 2007. It has noted some errors in the procedures for making payments but that does not mean that the payments should not have been made.
- The error rate (of 4.4%) although clearly too high is, in the words of the Court of Auditors, “not a measure of fraud, inefficiency or waste. It is an estimate of the money that should not have been paid out because it was not used in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations. Typical errors include payments for expenditure which was ineligible or for purchases without proper application of public purchasing rules”.
- All government systems of payments are likely to contain errors and although the EU should continue to work at reducing its error rate, higher error rates exist in some UK government accounts.
- For example, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) estimates that the total tax gap – the difference between the revenue that should be collected and what is actually collected – was 6.8%, amounting to £34 billion in 2012/13, and including 3% of revenue lost to tax fraud – www.gov.uk/government/news/hmrc-publishes-2012-to-2013-tax-gap. The UK’s National Audit Office has also found that Housing Benefit payments had an error rate in terms of payments of between 5.7% and 6.1% – www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/429749/stats-release-v3.pdf. ↑