Simpler benefits system will reduce fraud

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The latest figures show that a staggering £2bn a year is lost to fraud on a benefit bill of £100bn, while the accounts of the Department of Works and Pensions has been qualified for the last 13 years because of error and fraud.

In a Commons hearing in front of the PAC, the DWP said that unless some of the benefits were changed the problems to do with fraud and error were intractable.

This opinion was shared by the PAC, who said benefit claimants often did not understand that they must provide information when their circumstances change, while the system also allows some people to deliberately conceal or misrepresent their circumstances.

In 2001/2002, 667,000 cases of potential fraud were identified, but in only 15% of cases was any action taken.

PAC chairman Edward Leigh said efforts had been made to tackle housing benefit fraud and other new initiatives were underway, but the department ‘must make them work’ or consider changing the arrangements for delivering benefits payments.

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