Benefit fraud and error at record low

Fraud and error in the benefit system has dropped to the lowest level ever, falling by £350 million last year.

New figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that benefit fraud and error fell to 1.8% of overall welfare spending in 2014/15, compared to 2.1% since 2010/11, as  dedicated fraud investigators work hard to pursue and prosecute those that try to steal from the system.

Last year, the DWP and local authorities recovered a record £930 million that had been overpaid due to benefit fraud and error, an increase of 9% over the last year on a like for like basis.

Department for Work and PensionsFraud and error is expected to fall with the introduction of Real Time Information (RTI), introduced in August last year, which means that benefit claims are now cross-checked against earnings to highlight if a person is working while claiming – the top reason benefit fraud is committed or errors occur.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said:
“Benefit fraud is a serious crime and is taking money away from those in genuine need. That is why our investigators are vigilant in targeting criminals and bringing them to justice.

“Our vital reforms are fixing the welfare system and today’s figures show fraud and error in the benefits system has fallen to a record low.

“We are also continuing to recover more money than ever before, and Universal Credit will further reduce fraud and error.”

The data reveals that:

  • fraud and error overpayments have fallen by £350 million to below 2% for the first time in a decade
  • benefit fraud stands at £1.3 billion or 0.8% of expenditure
  • claimant error fell to a record low of 0.6% of spending, which is £1.1 billion in 2014/15
  • official error remained at its lowest rate of £0.7 billion or 0.4% of expenditure

To strengthen the fight against fraud and error in the benefit system, the government is:

  • rolling out Universal Credit so that it is available in every jobcentre across the country by spring 2016
  • delivering our Fraud, Error and Debt Programme, which has already made over £2 billion worth of savings in benefits spending at DWP
  • introducing a Single Fraud Investigation Service to prosecute fraudsters across the benefits system – which for the first time will include central investigations into Housing Benefit and tax credit fraud
  • using tougher measures to deter fraudsters, including increasing loss of benefit penalties and financial penalties up to a maximum of £5,000 as an alternative to prosecution
  • accessing real time PAYE data through Real Time Information so they can detect undeclared earnings or income and correct or adjust a person’s benefits
    maintaining record low levels of official error in overpayments and underpayments

Read the latest full statistics for fraud and error in the benefit system in 2014/15

“IDS supporters will be pleased with the figures. For those of us a little more discerning, or some affected by the welfare reforms, he’s a long way from redemption”


Mental Health Problems of ‘Frontline’ Medics

Thousands of frontline medics, police, and firefighters are struggling with mental health problems but are too scared to ask for help, a survey reveals.

Shocking figures released by the mental health charity Mind shows that nearly 90 per cent of emergency services personnel polled admitted to stress, low mood and poor mental health. But those in the frontline were most at risk of developing problems and less likely to speak out. It’s claimed they don’t believe employers view mental health issues as a valid reason for sick leave.

The online survey of over £,500 staff also showed that more than half had experienced severe mental health problems but just 43 per cent of those had taken time off.

Mental HealthAnd latest figures released by ambulance trusts to TV’s 5 News showed that the number of sick days taken for stress-related illnesses by paramedics has soared by 40 per cent in a single year – from 29,449 in 2013 to 41,297 days last year.

Now Mind – which is set to deliver a Blue Light programme supporting 999 personnel with mental health issues – is urging emergency services to sign up to the Time to Change pledge. The campaign, championed by the Sunday Mirror, aims to help soaring numbers of victims.

Paul Farmer, of Mind, said: “Not only are  many of our blue light personnel struggling with their mental health, but they’re less likely to seek support or have time off sick than the general workforce.

Warburton. D 2015 The Sunday Mirror 08/03/2015 P. 13

“These workers are quite well paid as well – what sort of mental health problems are the people who are poorly paid or reliant on the benefit system encountering?”