Government launches poster campaign to crack down on benefit fraud

 
Guy Bentley
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(Source: Getty)

Benefit fraud is to be the target of the government's latest ad campaign with posters to be extended across almost 50 towns and cities.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) wants claimants who have a change of circumstances to report it, so they don't fall foul of the rules.

Over the course of the six-week campaign people will be asked to report those they suspect of fraud to the DWP's own hotline . Last year, the government's benefits fraud hotline averaged over 600 calls a day.

Ministers also announced a new tool to crack down on false claims, with the ability to cross-check benefits claims against Real Time Information (RTI) on earnings and pension income from HMRC.

Some of the posters ask, "Partner moved in?" and "Claiming benefits?" and then demand "tell us or risk a penalty".

(Source: DWP)

Work and Pensions Minister Mark Harper said:

We are giving benefits claimants every opportunity to tell us if their circumstances have changed as the majority do.

But those who cheat the system need to know we will use everything in our power to stop them stealing money from hardworking taxpayers, and that they could land themselves in jail when they're caught.

Benefits fraud is estimated to cost the taxpayer over £1bn a year. The National Audit Office found housing benefit overpayments, due to fraud and error, had risen from £980m to almost £1.4bn between 2010/11 and 2013/14.

The new initiative may prove popular with a public increasingly sceptical of welfare but it also runs the risk mirroring the disastrous “go home or face arrest” vans which were intended to get illegal immigrants to return to their country of origin.

A Home Office report evaluating the scheme found 1,034 of the 1,561 text messages received in response to the ad's invitation to text for free advice and help with travel documents were fake.

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