IT failure leaves £130m uncollected
Domestic rates worth £130m have not been collected in Northern Ireland because of IT failures, auditors have found.
‘Some basic functionality of a new IT system has not been adequate to meet operational needs,’ says a report from the Northern Ireland Audit Office.
As a result, the Department of Finance and Personnel’s accounts would be qualified were they to be presented now, said auditor general John Dowdall.
But the DFP has promised to urgently review the IT systems and the accountability and corporate governance arrangements of the rates collection system.
Basic financial controls, such as bank reconciliations, were not successfully carried out on the rates collection accounts, the NIAO also disclosed.
Some £5m of allowances were paid to landlords for prompt payment of rates, irrespective of whether the bills were paid on time.
When the IT system went live it was unable to issue final notices or process debt proceedings, leading to an increase in rates arrears from £35m in March 2005 to £130m now.