Crackdown on benefit fraud

THE government has launched a crackdown on benefit fraudsters, with the first assessment letters sent out to incapacity benefit claimants yesterday indicating the disability living allowance was being replaced by a new payment.

The letters are being sent as part of a “work capability assessment” that employment minister Chris Grayling has estimated will find that half a million people out of 1.6m claiming incapacity benefit are in fact fit to work.

In a related shake-up, Iain Duncan Smith’s department for work and pensions yesterday announced that the disability living allowance (DLA), claimed by 3.2m at a total cost of £12bn a year, will be replaced by the personal independence payment.

The new payment will require claimants to be more stringently assessed rather than having to simply fill in a form online to receive the benefit. It will also periodically re-assess claimants to determine if their needs have changed, although it is not yet clear what this new assessment will involve.

Figures show that the number of people receiving DLA, which is meant for both working and non-working disabled people who need help washing and dressing, grew from 2.4m to 3.2m between 2002 and 2010.