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Poor monitoring and follow-up of the cash benefit scheme - Document no 3:12 (2006-2007)

A considerable number of incorrect payments have been made during recent years in connection with the state cash benefit scheme for parents who stay at home with their small children, or choose other day-care alternatives than a publicly-funded kindergarten. This reflects the fact that the work of monitoring whether or not children attend such day-care centres has been assigned low priority, both at the offices of the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service, and in the municipalities. These payments can also be made to EEA citizens without there being documentation to show that the conditions for receiving the benefit have been met.
Published 8/27/2007 1:29 PM

These are the findings of The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of the administration of the cash benefit scheme, Document no. 3:12 (2006–2007), which was submitted to the Norwegian parliament (the Storting) on 3 July 2007.

The main objective of the investigation has been to clarify whether the granting and payment of these cash benefits are adequately monitored. Another goal has been to investigate whether the scheme is being administrated satisfactorily. In 2006 a total of just less than NOK 2.3 billion was paid out under the cash benefit scheme.

The investigation shows that many municipalities assign low priority to the compulsory task of registering children of cash benefit age who attend day-care centres. Consequently the local labour and welfare offices do not have the information they need to check whether the day-care centre condition has been met when granting and paying the cash benefit. The investigation also shows that the local offices to only a small extent document the case processing and ensure that payments are correct.

Many of the local labour and welfare offices have a low level of knowledge about the procedures that apply for processing matters that are subject to EEA regulations. One of the results of this is that such cases can be incorrectly registered in the case-processing system and the number of EEA cases thus appears to be lower than it actually is. The investigation also reveals that more than half of the EEA cases reviewed are granted the cash benefit even though the grounds for receiving it have not been adequately documented.

In addition the investigation identifies serious weaknesses in the management and follow-up of the cash benefit scheme. Deficiencies in the administration of the scheme have been recognised for many years, but these have not been remedied. One example is the considerable number of incorrect cash benefit payments. Furthermore, there is little reporting on the scheme from the Directorate of Labour and Welfare.

In its response the Ministry of Children and Equality said that the necessary steps will be taken to improve the management, follow-up and monitoring of the cash benefit scheme. The Directorate of Labour and Welfare and been asked to draw up a plan containing proposals for measures to improve the conditions described in the investigation of the Office of the Auditor General.

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