A £510 million funding boost targeted at fraudsters lying to the DWP about their benefit claims has been announced today (Monday 13 December).
The money will be used to improve the department’s capability and capacity to detect and deter benefit fraud and catch fraudsters, recovering more taxpayer money that funds essential public services.
This crackdown will include 2,000 trained specialists to review claims by carrying out property checks, following up earning declarations of self-employed claimants and cross-checking bank details.
It builds on the department’s highly skilled and agile counter-fraud team and investigators in cyber security and serious and organised crime. They led government action to tackle organised crime groups seeking to exploit support during the pandemic, shutting down systematic attacks on the benefit system and preventing at least £1.9 billion in benefits from being paid to people trying to scam the system.
Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, said:
“Investing in measures to fight fraud protects honest taxpayers’ money and stops criminals funding their illicit activities off the back of our welfare system.
“We know the characteristics of a suspicious claim. This half a billion-pound cash injection is a clear message to fraudsters and criminal gangs: Anyone trying to con us will get caught out.”
A recent case handled by the counter-fraud team supported a high value fraud bust with police in Stratford-upon-Avon. Operation Iggy was a sting on a woman who had made 14 Universal Credit claims using false identity documents for a total of £270,000. She was arrested, with the false documents found in her house, and sentenced to 30 months in prison, with DWP now recovering the money.