Progress in Tackling Benefit Fraud
HC 323, Thirty-first Report of Session 2007-08 – Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence
- House of Commons – Committee of Public Accounts
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
Benefit fraud is a crime and undermines public confidence in the benefits system. In 2006-07, the Department for Work and Pensions (the Department) estimated that it spent some £154 million on tackling fraud, identifying £106 million of overpaid benefit against total benefit expenditure of £120 billion.
The Department estimates that fraud fell from £2 billion in 2001-02 to £800 million in 2006-07, which is 0.6% of benefit expenditure. But the Department must do more to reverse the rise in official and customer error. Estimated error rose from £1 billion in 2001-02 to £1.9 billion in 2006-07. Benefit complexity is believed to be a major cause of error.
Increasing the volume of pre-payment checks and encouraging customers to receive benefit payments directly into their bank accounts has prevented some fraud. The Department now works closely with the police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and local authorities to prevent, identify and act against fraud but it could make more effective use of its powers and resources. While the Department successfully prosecutes 90% of the cases it takes to court, the Prosecution Division has lost 17% of its staff since 2003.
Debt recovery is an essential part of tackling fraud yet in 2006-07 the Department only recovered £22 million of fraud debt out of a known fraud debt stock of £339 million. The Department has been slow to improve its management information systems, hampering its ability to measure the cost-effectiveness of counter-fraud activities. It has taken from 2003 until February 2008 to roll out a new national management information system - known as FRAIMS - at a cost of £65 million.
The January 2008 National Audit Office Report on this topic ('Progress in Tackling Benefit Fraud (HC 102)' – ISBN 9780102951776) is available to buy separately, please see below.
|Format||Paperback||Published||08 Jul 2008|
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