Benefit fraud in the UK hits record levels after false claims rose to £2.3billion last year 

Benefit fraud rose to record levels last year as false claims surged by £100million.

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) yesterday revealed that benefit fraud jumped last year to £2.3 billion – up from £2.2 billion the previous year.

Total fraud and error amounted to £4 billion, equal to 4.6 per cent of the benefits bill. The figure was up from £3.7 billion the previous year.

The figures – the highest on record – yesterday led the National Audit Office (NAO) to qualify the DWP’s accounts for the 30th consecutive year.

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) yesterday revealed that benefit fraud jumped last year to £2.3 billion - up from £2.2 billion the previous year

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) yesterday revealed that benefit fraud jumped last year to £2.3 billion - up from £2.2 billion the previous year

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) yesterday revealed that benefit fraud jumped last year to £2.3 billion – up from £2.2 billion the previous year

The NAO also reported an increase in benefit underpayments to £1.9 billion.

The public spending watchdog highlighted concerns about the new Universal Credit benefit, saying the 8.6 per cent overpayment rate was the highest for any benefit since tax credits in 2003-4.

The figures are an embarrassment for ministers, who have spent years claiming they will end benefit fraud Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said the department must ‘work to understand the reasons for high fraud and error rates for Universal Credit’.

He added: ‘The value of fraud and error in benefit spending is a longstanding and costly issue for the department.

‘I am concerned that this has reached its highest rate since the current estimation method was introduced, and that the Department expects overpayments to rise even further.’

Mr Davies urged the department to review its systems to ‘understand the reason for high fraud and error rates for Universal Credit’.

Frank Field, the MP who chairs the Work and Pension Committee, said: 'In the DWP's fantastical predictions, Universal Credit was supposed to reduce error'

Frank Field, the MP who chairs the Work and Pension Committee, said: 'In the DWP's fantastical predictions, Universal Credit was supposed to reduce error'

Frank Field, the MP who chairs the Work and Pension Committee, said: ‘In the DWP’s fantastical predictions, Universal Credit was supposed to reduce error’

Frank Field, the MP who chairs the Work and Pension Committee, said: ‘In the DWP’s fantastical predictions, Universal Credit was supposed to reduce error.

‘Instead it is the most error-riddled of all benefits, and it’s only getting worse.

‘DWP wasted billions of pounds of public money on error last year alone – running at the highest levels since it started counting – but that doesn’t begin to count the human cost.’ In September last year, Judge Nichols Deane criticised the DWP for failing to tackle benefit cheats people should be forced to pay back money sooner.

The DWP said that there had been no overall increase in the overall rate of fraud and error.

A spokesman said: ‘We rely on accurate information and updates from claimants to ensure we provide the right benefits, and are continuously improving this system.

‘A minority of people abuse the system and we continue to challenge them using the full range of penalties at our disposal.’

 

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