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Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004

Section 45: Benefit administration studies for Secretary of State

95.This section enables the Auditor General, at the request of the Secretary of State, to conduct or assist the Secretary of State to conduct a study designed to improve economy, efficiency and effectiveness and quality of performance in administration of housing benefit or council tax benefit functions by one or more local authorities in Wales (as defined in section 59(5)). The Auditor General can only conduct such a study if the Secretary of State agrees to pay the Auditor General a reasonable fee in respect of the study.

96.The Auditor General has, for the purposes of carrying out such studies, all the rights of access to documents and information etc. set out in section 52. The report resulting from the study must be sent to the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State may publish the report if he chooses, in conjunction with the Auditor General. It was not considered appropriate to place the Secretary of State under a duty to publish the report. The report may for instance include information that might be helpful to fraudsters in highlighting a weakness in the benefits system. It may contain confidential information or the identity of individuals. For these reasons a blanket requirement to publish a report would be inadvisable.

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