Wednesday 22 June 2011 8:15 pm

Britain could struggle to cut benefits bill, says NAO

IAIN Duncan Smith, the welfare secretary, has been warned he could miss ambitious targets for slashing Britain’s benefits bill. The National Audit Office (NAO) said the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) would need to make “rapid progress” if it is to cut its overall spending by almost £20bn over the next four years. If the DWP – the Whitehall department with the biggest budget – fails to cut spending by as much as planned it could throw the coalition’s deficit reduction plan off course. The NAO said the department did not have a clear plan beyond 2011-12 for reducing spending and warned there was a “risk of not achieving substantial savings”. The DWP must cut its own running costs by £2.7bn and the cost of benefits and pensions by £27bn by 2014-15.