The failure to sign off the EU budget by the European Court of Auditors has brought forward the usual predictable criticism of Brussels incompetence and mismanagement (your report, 7 November).
What this criticism curiously fails to highlight is the fact that 80 per cent of the budget is spent in the EU member states and these failures are often down to the national and local governments responsible for overseeing the distribution of funds, rather than just the European Commission.
In fact, improperly accounted for expenditure, which includes fraud, is higher in the UK’s national accounts.
It is also true that the EU sets higher standards for its accounts than those required by Parliament in the UK.
It is worth noting in this context that the accounts of Britain’s Department of Work & Pensions, which is responsible for distributing pension and other social security benefits, have been qualified by the National Audit Office every year for 20 years.
Despite this supposed clean bill of health, fraud and error in the payment of UK benefits amount to an estimated £3.3 billion in 2010-11.