Housing fraud plagues WCape

The Auditor-General's performance audit on the approval and allocation of housing subsidies by the Western Cape Department of Housing has highlighted irregularities of almost 4.9 million rand in subsidy allocation.

These figures were revealed in the performance audit report tabled in the Western Cape Provincial legislature. The figures are based on actual subsidies paid as well as a calculated potential amount of 15,000 rand per applicant and were found in 1,449 exceptions out of a national total of 53,426.

On a national level, subsidies incorrectly awarded, across all nine provinces represents a monetary value of some 322 million rand.

The audit procedures applied during the performance audit stemmed mainly from the comparison of the Housing Subsidy System (HSS) with various databases to create exception reports.

Of the 180,742 beneficiaries approved in the Western Cape, irregularities found were - 572 applicants were government employees earning salaries in excess of the housing subsidy threshold (national figure: 7, 353); - 376 subsidy approvals after the applicant's date of death (national figure: 5,335); - 256 duplicate subsidy approvals for the same applicant (national figure 1,618); and 245 potential instances where subsidies were approved for individuals under the age of 21 (national figure: 6,708).

Inadequate management measures identified included, among others, the following:

- Applicants made misrepresentations and supplied outdated information to the department on their subsidy application forms;
- Subsidy application forms were not always verified for correctness and completeness by users and system administrators;
- The HSS system failed to detect that applicants were deceased at the time that the subsidy application was approved; and
- The department did not have adequate management measures to ensure the safekeeping of completed subsidy application forms.

Says Auditor-General Shauket Fakie: "The purpose of this report is to facilitate public accountability by bringing the irregularities and limitation in the current low-cost housing subsidy process to the attention of the legislature, and to assist in improving service delivery and value for the taxpayers' money.

"It is further hoped that this report will enable the Western Cape Housing Department to take corrective steps required to improve the management measures, controls, processes and systems in the approval and allocation process of low-cost housing subsidies."

Separate reports on similar performance audits conducted in the eight other provincial housing departments have been or will be submitted to the respective provincial legislatures for consideration. Most of the findings originated from deficient management measures that were generic throughout.

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Article from: www.sundaytimes.co.za