BBC BLOGS - Have Your Say
« Previous | Main | Next »

What is the best way to crackdown on benefit fraud?

09:11 UK time, Tuesday, 10 August 2010

David Cameron is to unveil a crackdown on benefit fraud which could see greater use of credit reference agencies to detect wrong claims. Is this a good idea?

He will promise "uncompromising strategy" to reduce the £5.2bn annual cost of fraud and error. Writing in the Manchester Evening News, Mr Cameron said: "At a time when we're having to take such difficult decisions about how to cut back without damaging the things that matter the most, we should strain every sinew to cut error, waste and fraud in our welfare system."

Credit ratings firm Experian says it is in talks over a deal which could see it paid according to the number of fraudsters uncovered. It said it already had a contract to scrutinise new housing benefit claimants, in a deal agreed by the previous government which had saved £17m.

Should there be tougher penalties for benefit fraud and more prosecutions? Will the use of credit reference agencies help the crackdown on benefit fraud? What further measures could be taken? Are you a benefit claimant?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 14

  • Comment number 1.

    As less than 1% of benefit are claimed fraudulently this is yet another fantasy crackdown on a problem that does not exist for the sake of making a political point.

    There are far more serious issues that need to be tackled


  • Comment number 2.

    1. At 09:29am on 10 Aug 2010, Its all Thatchers Fault wrote:
    As less than 1% of benefit are claimed fraudulently this is yet another fantasy crackdown on a problem that does not exist for the sake of making a political point.

    There are far more serious issues that need to be tackled




    ####################################################



    Tax avoidance for one


  • Comment number 3.

    Have a £50 bounty for "grassing" them. It could be little earner and certainly a good investment if you could get 10 people on minimum wage, working for you and reporting 2 or 3 a day. Worth thinking about.

  • Comment number 4.

    We know a number of Invalidity Benefit claimants who can be seen out functioning socially and dancing the night away with out any problem.

    Are these people really disabled?

    Is there any mileage in having a bounty / reward for pointing out such people?

  • Comment number 5.

    OK use these unregulated company's who data has been shown numerous times to be at best misleading, we all be awaiting the first court case when the government is asked to provide the evidence in full!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Cut MP's salaries, build a block of student flats at Westminster, close all bars and resturants that receive public money, fill an office block with admin people to be shared, buy some bus tickets - I could go on and on.......

    What do you mean that is not the type of benefit fraud he meant?

    Perhaps if Mr Cameron were to put his own 'house' in order first, after all 4 pending court cases out of 400 for flawed expenses claims hardly seems uncompromising!

  • Comment number 7.



    I thought that Blair was the king of spin, but he is an amateur compared to this lot.

    Why on earth are this lot spending our money employing private credit firms to look into a problem that should be tackled at source.

    Fraud isn’t a real problem, Incompetence is.

    Don’t waste our money chasing something that isn’t there


  • Comment number 8.

    Irrespective of what other issues need to be takled, surely if you can tackle this one in a fair and cost effective way, then you should? Or do we really want to send out a message that fraud is OK, if there are other issues going on?

    As for tax avoidance, I couldn't agree more. But rather than starting with "Non-Doms" who are actually paying tax on their income in the country in which is it earned (contrary to what the media and certain political parties will tell you), maybe the focus should be on the scams of contractors and private equity setting themselves up as companies; earning £100ks, paying corporation tax at 25% and NO National Insurance! I work in IT and know a number of people who do this and are proud that they are doing it, saying that the system allows it, so that is fine. Easy, let's change the system.

  • Comment number 9.

    It warms the cockles of the heart to know Cameron is on a fraud hunt. But it isn't the massive trillion pound fraud perpetrated in bringing down financial markets, it is the petty case of the alleged £5.2bn stolen by benefit claimants. Of course no one, especially in government, knows what the real figure is; they believe it is 'big', which means the financial market fraud was massive, and yet, it hasn't warranted a criminal investigations, yet.

    Experian are involved, so we are told, and have 'already saved' £17m, about as much as a deceitful financier would have reckoned on making in one afternoon, and less than 0.003% of the alleged 'benefit crimes'.

    It tells you all you need to know, it really does. Make money, illegally or legally and Cameron will apparently love you particularly if you help finance his Tory party ego trip. Look for help with accommodation or benefit and you are almost certainly a 'fraud target', especially with the 'big society' curtain peeping army doing the only thing they know.

    'What you earn £16k per year and you live in a council flat. How dare you?'

    'What you want benefit because you lost your job? You are sure you're entitled to claim, aren't you? There is a long stay in prison waiting if you make a false move.'

    as compared to:

    'What you brought the world economies down? Well don't do it again. Now where is my share?'

  • Comment number 10.

    When will a British government get tough on tax evasion and fraud which costs the exchequer far more than benefit fiddling ever will?

    Why is it ok for someone to cheat the government out of hundreds of thousands a year in taxes by accounting chicanery but wholly wrong to do a few hours cash in hand a week to make ends meet?

    And this isn't party political the Labour government was just as bad on the issue, but as Cameron says when the country is facing tough choices it's right that we crack down on fraud and waste. So why are we only going after one end of the scale?

  • Comment number 11.

    I know of someone who was caught by benefit agency inspectors for working part-time and claiming benefit. The place of work (a late night food outlet) had two other people working and claiming benefit. The benefit agency were tipped off by an anonymous caller who obviously knew the person who was caught (and made to sign off benefit). The manager of the shop was prosecuted and recieved a small fine.

    Two things concern me about this.

    Firstly the benefit agency, by my reckoning spent close to £30,000 to catch these people (they spent 3 months on surveillance). The total benefit fraud was much less than this amount. This leads me to believe that most attempts to catch benefit cheats is to reduce the number making benefit claims, it is NOT about saving money.

    Secondly, although this occured in a food outlet the agency made no attempt to check up on the many other outlets in town. The cost of detection of fraud is so prohibitive (and the money saved for the tax payer never covers the costs)that they can only do the obvious high-profile cases and rely on the public hearing about the few case they deal with to act as a deterent.

    If call-me-dave wants to call in private investigation agencies, who will pay? In order to prosecute the level of evidence required far outways the money saved or recovered. Are these private agencies then just going to force people to sign off benefit?

    Like most people I deplore benefit cheats, but lets get a bit of perspective here. Most of the £Billions in benefit fraud are by organised gangs using large scale fraud. The use of Biometric signing 'passport' cards and facial recognition cameras at benefit offices would put an end to this, very cost effectively.

    Or is this just another toree 'lets get tough on benefit claimants' idea to appease those true-bluers nervous about the pink-tinged condems?




  • Comment number 12.

    1. At 09:29am on 10 Aug 2010, Its all Thatchers Fault wrote: "As less than 1% of benefit are claimed fraudulently this is yet another fantasy crackdown on a problem that does not exist for the sake of making a political point. There are far more serious issues that need to be tackled.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    I beg to disagree. It is estimated that £5.2 billion out of a total £87 billion is lost to fraudulant claims and a further £1.6 billion to administrative error. So fraud accounts for 6%, not 1%, of the budget. It would seem not only fair but also sensible to recover more of this and deter the false claimants.

  • Comment number 13.

    Pay in food, rent and utilities vouchers instead of money. This would ensure that the necessities of life were catered for.

    No doubt this would lead to a trade in vouchers - but it's far less open to abuse than the money based system.

  • Comment number 14.

    All benefits to be paid as vouchers. Remove the motivation to cheat the system and the cheating stops.

    It has to be said though, at 1% or less lost through this it would seem that adressing the over complicated system which leads to more being lost by error that cheating seems like the place to concentrate efforts on.

  • Comment number 15.

    Another sound bite to satisfy the Daily Mail constituency.

    Tax avoidance and tax havens should be the targets but with a £70k donation to the Tory party offering direct guaranteed access to the PM via Dave's, 'Leaders Group', that's not likely to happen.

    The Nazis had a similar system. For a big enough bung there was membership of the, 'Friends of the Reichsfuhrer SS', group. Many of the names familiar by their' 'oh so friendly', avertising today were ardent members.

    Nothing changes.

  • Comment number 16.

    Benefit fraud is costing us far less than Company Directors based in foreign countries to avoid paying taxes! Lets see the tories correctly bring to account these tax avoiders first!

  • Comment number 17.

    If Cameron is seriously interested in reducing benefit fraud then perhaps he may wish to consider a serious upward revision of the minimum wage, likewise the initial tax threshold (personal allowance) and, most importantly, the number of jobs there are for people to take. Without those revisions his customary and dogmatic attack on the welfare state is just more of his flatulent hot air.

    He may also wish to investigate the private rental market (the hidden beneficiaries of huge amounts of public money) and work out why it is that there are such large numbers in expensively tiny accommodation instead of cheaper council tenancies. If he has any memory at all (bearing in mind his 1940 gaff) he will remember that a predecessor of his Party wrote off most of the cheap housing without bothering to replace it.

    You reap what you sow Mr Cameron.

  • Comment number 18.

    Major problems with this. The release of private individuals details to private companies in oreder to prove Government money isn't being taken illegaly.
    Disclosure of Information Act, Misuse of Computers act are just two.
    Also why are we rewarding highly paid Private Companies with Public Money while we could be training and using current Civil Servants who could be redeployed from their current duties instead of being made redundant to undertake this role hence avoiding the above problems?
    Tory dogma and Tory Maths just don't add up. Somebody show me an area where the private sector have successfully competed with civil servants given a level playing field? Facts please not propaganda.

  • Comment number 19.

    David Cameron is to unveil a crackdown on benefit fraud which could see greater use of credit reference agencies to detect wrong claims. Is this a good idea?
    He will promise "uncompromising strategy" to reduce the £5.2bn annual cost of fraud and error.

    This is an excellent idea, but first lets start with the fraudster MP's who robbed the tax payer of hundreds of thousands through false accounting and false claims of their expenses, once we have dealt with all of those, then look at the benifit fraudsters - who get a couple of pounds here and there extra, whereas the fraudster MP expenses were running in to thousands and hundreds of thousands.

    Start at the top and work down! rather than just hitting the poorest again and again and again......................
    Yes there are those who rip of and milk the system, but I doubt very much if any are or were at the level of those who were supposed to be representing our constituances in this country, instead of representing their wallets.

  • Comment number 20.

    I agree we should do all we can to eradicate benefit fraud, we made a start with the MP's expenses. Will these companies, set up to spy on benefit fraudsters be spying on the people who avoid paying their taxes or not . For some reason Cameron and Osbourne have NO BACKBONE when it comes to tackling tax avoidance.To single out one section of the thieves in our society appears to be wrong, THEY ARE ALL IN IT TOGETHER.

  • Comment number 21.

    I was amazed the other week to learn on the BBC website that the government would take back overpayments made on tax credits. Amazed that there had been a £25,000 leeway between people's declared income and their real income. So as I understand, people could under report their earnings for tax credit purposes, by £25,000, and not be penalised. This, and other examples show the inefficiency of the system.

    Then I read that millions of pounds of tax credits are going unclaimed by those entitled because of bureaucracy. It seems a ridiculous situation. Surely it would be simple enough to check everyone's income through HMRC on a central database, determine entitlement automatically, and be done with fiddling with applications, P60s etc.

    When my son was born I received a Child Benefit application in my Bounty pack at the hospital - reasonably easy. However, to receive a Child Tax Benefit I had to ring the helpline, spend 20 minutes waiting for an advisor, another 20 minutes speaking to the advisor to prove my identity before they would send me an application form!!!!! With a crying baby in my arms they insisted that I tell them my income and my husbands income, answer dozens of questions to tell me what I MIGHT get when I applied. How insane is that? I am already receiving child benefit - proof has been sent of my son's birth, why is that not tied in with child tax credit. There must be thousands of offices working in isolation. No wonder there is fraud, overpayment due to government incompetence, and worse, people not getting what they are rightly entitled to because the process is so cumbersome and user unfriendly.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    --As less than 1% of benefit are claimed fraudulently--

    Not if you use the statistics from the House of Commons!

    50% of people are on the fiddle if our great leaders are anything to go by.

    Or maybe it's something to do with the kind of people attracted to politics.

  • Comment number 24.

    Tax avoidance is 15 times more than Benefit fraud. Why is George Bush oops sorry David Cameron concentrating on this..... because all his friends are on the tax fiddle.

  • Comment number 25.

    The two last cases of disability benefit fraud reported on the BBC were worth £36,000 and £20,000. They resulted respectively in a 7 month prison sentance and 12 month community sentence involving 120 hours of unpaid work, whilst presumably costing the taxpayer far more in bureacracy and police and cps paperwork.

    The problem is, if you offered someone a annual salary of £94,000 to go to spend time in prison, or £325 per hour to do community service (the equivalent rates for the money they obtained and the sentences they were given), you'd get more than a few takers.

    And this is just if you get caught.

  • Comment number 26.

    If they want to reduce cost, how about doing something about department mistakes.

    5 years ago your average DWP trainee got 14-16 weeks of training (including consolidation time) before being let "loose" on live work. Now it's half that at best and some times only a few weeks.

    Training is so piece meal and ad hoc that quite often processors are doing work they haven't had sufficient experience with.

    I know I was one.

  • Comment number 27.

    Here's some workable suggestion that people will hate: Claimants paid in vouchers not cash, a portion of their time used in the community as part of Cameron's 'Big Society' and benefits claimants ID'ed using bio-metrics to prevent fraudulent (multiple) claims.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    · 12. At 09:46am on 10 Aug 2010, John Charlton wrote:
    1. At 09:29am on 10 Aug 2010, Its all Thatchers Fault wrote: "As less than 1% of benefit are claimed fraudulently this is yet another fantasy crackdown on a problem that does not exist for the sake of making a political point. There are far more serious issues that need to be tackled.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    I beg to disagree. It is estimated that £5.2 billion out of a total £87 billion is lost to fraudulant claims and a further £1.6 billion to administrative error. So fraud accounts for 6%, not 1%, of the budget. It would seem not only fair but also sensible to recover more of this and deter the false claimants.

    #######################

    Your figure is incorrect; it includes the huge amount of overpayments

    The figure of 1% is the correct one.

    If you are going to quote “Facts” then get them right

  • Comment number 30.

    As I have found it incredibly difficult to obtain just £65 a week for JSA and ESA in turn, I have no idea how the cheats do it, so other than going to live with them, I have no idea how you tackle this.

    And as one council has been heavily criticised for watching a family to see if they lived in a school catchment area, I'm not sure how any organisation goes about it.

  • Comment number 31.

    · 12. At 09:46am on 10 Aug 2010, John Charlton wrote:
    1. At 09:29am on 10 Aug 2010, Its all Thatchers Fault wrote: "As less than 1% of benefit are claimed fraudulently this is yet another fantasy crackdown on a problem that does not exist for the sake of making a political point. There are far more serious issues that need to be tackled.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    I beg to disagree. It is estimated that £5.2 billion out of a total £87 billion is lost to fraudulant claims and a further £1.6 billion to administrative error. So fraud accounts for 6%, not 1%, of the budget. It would seem not only fair but also sensible to recover more of this and deter the false claimants.


    ####################################

    Estimated?

    Estimated by whom?


  • Comment number 32.

    Go after people that avoid tax, which is perfectly legal, to pay for benefit fraudsters, which is illegal? One is business accumen and the other is theft.

  • Comment number 33.

    Just out of interest.

    How can private companies be allowed access to private government held information???
    I give that information confidentially!!

    I don't want some smelly little private sector company trawling through my government record!

  • Comment number 34.

    I have to agree with the majority of the comments above.. what a waste of time trying to fight fraud. After all, these are poor people, and what's £5.2 billion anyway? It's a tiny figure after all.

    Who's going to begrudge unemployed fraudsters their 40 cigarettes/8 pints of lager a day? It's a very, very hard life and we should all leave them alone. I honestly think they deserve a pay INCREASE. Let me ask my boss if I can pay EVEN MORE tax and NI for these people...

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    Benefits ought not be an option for any one.

    Level of benefits in itself should be disincentive and not an alternative.

    Unemployment related level of benefit should never be more than the people's ability to earn and not more than minimum wage level less 10%, limit the benefits for no more than 1 year, must have a record of employment of 5 years.

  • Comment number 37.

    Benefit fraud increased dramatically when we went to a postal claim system.

    In the 60's 70's every single claim to Income support or related benefits was investigated by visiting the claimant at home and all aspects of the claim validated.

    Reduction of front line staff because of cuts and the move to a postal system took away this validation process and meant that it could be 12 months before a validation visit took place. Much easier to make false statements in a postal claim.

    The basic principal of Qualty Management is "Get it right first time". This requires an investment in enough staff to validate the claim at the beginning.

    It is more sexy and vote winning to set up a massive fraud agency acting like a pseudo police force to catch fraudsters and gain publicity than to provide enough staff to do the job properly in the first place.

  • Comment number 38.

    12. At 09:46am on 10 Aug 2010, John Charlton wrote:

    1. At 09:29am on 10 Aug 2010, Its all Thatchers Fault wrote: "As less than 1% of benefit are claimed fraudulently this is yet another fantasy crackdown on a problem that does not exist for the sake of making a political point. There are far more serious issues that need to be tackled.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    I beg to disagree. It is estimated that £5.2 billion out of a total £87 billion is lost to fraudulant claims and a further £1.6 billion to administrative error. So fraud accounts for 6%, not 1%, of the budget. It would seem not only fair but also sensible to recover more of this and deter the false claimants.





    ####################################



    It is estimated that?????????????????????????



    I can estimate all sorts if things



    That is the trouble with people on here the comment without the facts, like you


  • Comment number 39.

    All misuse of taxpayers money needs to be tackled and stopped. I don't make any distinction between benefit fraud, tax avoidance, expenses claims or BBC salaries - it's all ripping off the taxpayer.
    The first place to start is not getting more middle men involved, but actually tackling incompetence in the public workplace. If people did their jobs properly and were managment operated efficiently, there would be NO fraud, tax avoidance, miscalculation of payments or false expense claims. Would there? I know I wouldn't even try to slip a false ham sandwich receipt, or sick day, past MY Chief Executive.

  • Comment number 40.

    I see dave the milk snatcher is staying true to form, attacking the needy and most vulnerable in society whilst allowing his rich banker friends, the ones who caused this recession to evade paying taxes.

    I really am fearing the worst for this country, thatcher almost destroyed this country, the eton toffs could do the same again.

  • Comment number 41.

    Brilliant!! What an excellent idea Mr Cameron has. People on benefits should have a poor credit score and it would be an indication as to whether benefit claimants are genuinely in need.

  • Comment number 42.

    HYS opened at 9:11. Already we have Daily Mail and Nazis mentioned. Not seen any bankers yet. Sure to crop up soon.

    The question was how to tackle etc.

    Whether anyone thinks it is a priority or not, and whether there should be different targets - it is still theft.

    It is apparently aimed at people who should not be claiming at all, or, I don't know - claiming for children/family they don't have.

  • Comment number 43.

    21. At 09:56am on 10 Aug 2010, Rachel wrote:

    I was amazed the other week to learn on the BBC website that the government would take back overpayments made on tax credits. Amazed that there had been a £25,000 leeway between people's declared income and their real income. So as I understand, people could under report their earnings for tax credit purposes, by £25,000, and not be penalised. This, and other examples show the inefficiency of the system.

    Then I read that millions of pounds of tax credits are going unclaimed by those entitled because of bureaucracy. It seems a ridiculous situation. Surely it would be simple enough to check everyone's income through HMRC on a central database, determine entitlement automatically, and be done with fiddling with applications, P60s etc.

    When my son was born I received a Child Benefit application in my Bounty pack at the hospital - reasonably easy. However, to receive a Child Tax Benefit I had to ring the helpline, spend 20 minutes waiting for an advisor, another 20 minutes speaking to the advisor to prove my identity before they would send me an application form!!!!! With a crying baby in my arms they insisted that I tell them my income and my husbands income, answer dozens of questions to tell me what I MIGHT get when I applied. How insane is that? I am already receiving child benefit - proof has been sent of my son's birth, why is that not tied in with child tax credit. There must be thousands of offices working in isolation. No wonder there is fraud, overpayment due to government incompetence, and worse, people not getting what they are rightly entitled to because the process is so cumbersome and user unfriendly.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That's a very good post, Rachel. You highlight very well the biggest problem with benefit faraud - not the fraud itself, but the cost of administration, and the very high chance of maladministration, which, on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning, was shown to cost more.

  • Comment number 44.

    Ok so the estimate is that 1% of benefits are fraudulently claimed...

    Yes, there have to be ways to catch up with cheats otherwise we'll just get more cheats... But surely the focus should be on getting people off benefits and back into work paying tax instead of costing me tax.

    Everyone wins!

  • Comment number 45.

    create jobs with decent wages , where you can earn enough to live reasonably , without having to work overtime , or do second a job because of low weages ,

  • Comment number 46.

    How about recoving some of the £850 BILLION (conservative estimate) that the banks stole from the tax payer to prop up their balance sheets. Or maybe some of the money benefit cheats stole from the tax payer to pay for second homes / duck ponds etc?. What about the £billions of evaded tax stolen by wealthy fat cats who can afford good accountants??

    No no. lets opt for the attacking the most vunerable in society with a process that will cost more than it saves, but hell, it may win us a few right wing votes - that is until they lose their jobs in the cuts.

    pathetic.

  • Comment number 47.

    The misuse of the benefits system is a big problem. I seem to remember that a poorly banking system (having become ill through chronic over consumption and greed) received some £375 bn benefits from the public purse quite recently and yet seem to have remained in rude health throughout. There is also the tax (avoidance) benefits system which seems to operate for those very wealthy individuals who just cannot bear to be separated from their money to the tune of around £20 bn p/a.
    There are few things more loathsome than a government that picks on the poorest to recover the least amount of revenue, whilst ignoring the wealthiest from which they could and should recover the most amount of revenue. It will be the sick, disabled, elderly and poorest who will suffer for the sins and crimes of the wealthiest. What a revolting and pernicious system.

  • Comment number 48.

    5.2 billion payed out on Welfare Tax fraud DISGUSTING
    How much is lost on Income Tax fraud?Probably a lot more. Do not do a lot about that!

    sadassnow

  • Comment number 49.

    I am not sure that this measure is what we need in a democratic society and smacks of 1930's germany.

    There will always be people milking the system, what is needed is a cultural change within our country, too many of us ask what the country can do for us rather than what we can do for our country.

    Labour seem to have spent years dismantling our nations pride and making people reliant on the state, this needs to be reversed.

  • Comment number 50.



    David Cameron is to unveil a crackdown on benefit fraud which could see greater use of credit reference agencies to detect wrong claims. Is this a good idea?

    No

  • Comment number 51.

    17. At 09:53am on 10 Aug 2010, mortice rigger wrote:

    "If Cameron is seriously interested in reducing benefit fraud then perhaps he may wish to consider a serious upward revision of the minimum wage, likewise the initial tax threshold (personal allowance) and, most importantly, the number of jobs there are for people to take."


    Raising the minimum wage isn't going to create more jobs, it's going to result in less. Businesses (who the majority here seem to view as the villains) only have a finite amount of money to spend on salaries - increasing one person's salary means there's less for everyone else. It may also mean that a number of businesses decide to move off-shore for cheaper labour and tax regimes.

    The key to economic recovery (and higher salaries and more jobs) is to make the UK business friendly. Help companies secure their futures and make it easier and cheaper to take on staff, even if it's limited to the first year of employment, and we might be on the right track. Punish businesses and push them to the brink of bankruptcy or offshoring and we all lose out.

  • Comment number 52.

    At £30 billion per year, fraud in the UK is more than twice as high as thought, with tax evasion costing the public purse over £15 billion per year and benefit fraud just over £1 billion.

    Based predominantly on 2008 data, the National Fraud Authority’s first ever Annual Fraud Indicator found fraud against the public sector accounts for 58% of the total fraud in the UK per year.

    Tax evasion is around 3% of total tax liabilities, while benefit fraud accounts for 0.8% of total benefit expenditure.


    Source: http://citywire.co.uk/new-model-adviser/tax-evasion-costs-treasury-15-times-more-than-benefit-fraud/a378274

  • Comment number 53.

    PEANUTS!!!!!!

    Peanuts, anyone for peanuts, peanuts, peanuts, anyone for peanuts!!!!!

    Yes benefit fraud is a problem, it supposidly accounts for loss of £1.5 billion in the OVERAL figures on the £5.2bn annual cost of benefit cheats and overpayments, HENCE, take £1.5 billion (fraud) away from £5.2 billion total which leaves £3.7 billion overpayments, MISTAKES.

    Just ONE TEENY WEENY LITTLE ITEM TO ADD TO THIS.

    Presently, the USA is investigating the FACT that CREDIT RATING agencies CHEATED/DEFRAUDED the worlds banks by selling them RUBBISH/WORTHLESS investment packages of Sub Prime mortgages/loans, which they sold to banks as LOW RISK investments, when in FACT they were VERY HIGH RISK.

    THIS EVENT is what led to the COLLAPSE of banking sector, as once the bubble burst, SO MANY BANKS then found that INSTEAD of CAVIAR investments, they actually relatively OWNED basically £BILLIONS of CAT FOOD which had gone past their sell by/use by date.

    THIS EVENT which resulted in bank bailouts, SMASHED up UK economy, HUGE INCREASE in UK national debts, over 30 MILLION lost jobs worldwide, and is reported to be costing the UK economy over £1TRILLION in TOTAL LOSSES.

    NOW, PLEASE put me right if I am wrong. The BIGGEST FRAUD in HUMAN HISTORY, which basically very NEARLY DESTROYED the WHOLE world economic and financial system,

    ERM,...... WHERE is UK FRAUD investigation into this. WHY is it JUST being left to USA to investigate????

    ALSO, WHY are the VERY SAME credit rating agencies, STILL ALLOWED to operate and DEMAND that governments etc pay back debts which WERE FACTUALLY accumulated SOLELY DUE TO THE FRAUDULENT BEHAVIOUR OF THESE CREDIT RATING AGENCIES.

    REALITY.

    If you defraud/cheat Britain out of a couple of hundred quid each week, you will basically be HUNTED DOWN with GHUGE RESOURCES and PUNISHED SEVERELY.

    If you SMASH UP the WHOLE UK economy by DEFRAUDINGLY packaging & SELLING £ BILLIONS UPON £ BILLIONS of USELESS investments to UK banks then in Britain the WORST you can expect is a PROD with Ken Dodds tickling stick.

    NOw, just watch Cameron show his ANGER at benefits cheats.

    ERM, WHERE is IT for the BIGGEST CHEATS and DEFRAUDERS in HUMAN HISTORY!!!

    HEY.

    Guess who chases after fraudsters, CREDIT RATING AGENCIES.

    MAYBE,

    AFTERALL

    THERES SOMETHING IN SET A THIEF TO CATCH A THIEF.

    But really, would you really use Ronnie Biggs to catch a ticket tout?????

  • Comment number 54.

    4. At 09:39am on 10 Aug 2010, wvpTV wrote:
    We know a number of Invalidity Benefit claimants who can be seen out functioning socially and dancing the night away with out any problem.

    Are these people really disabled?

    Is there any mileage in having a bounty / reward for pointing out such people?
    =============================================================
    Sorry there is no mileage in this at all.

    Once you are on the invalidity gravy-train, you ride it for life. Sure the government may re-asses you, may even get you off IB, but you will still be able to claim the same amount from other benefits and no employer will touch you.

    I also know a couple of IB claiments who have a very comfortable lifestyle. Caravn at the coast for the summer months, new car on motability every 2 years (90% of motability vehicles have NO adaptions to cater for disabled passengers).

    These people are the same age as me(60). I can see in the years to come they will loose out. As pensioners they will soon have to give up their summer home once the car goes. Nothing to leave the kids so they will be ignored by them and the grandkids.

    I'm afraid like most benefit claimants at the moment they are untouchable.







  • Comment number 55.

    About time too! Under labour and the big 'social experiment' earning more on benefits that going to work has resulted in commonplace job dodging.

    Is it a spooky coincidence that majority of the binge drinkers and ASB is caused by people who dont and wont get up for work the following day

    Even more infuriating is the 'lets pretend to be disabled' gang who reap the extra benefits and tar the genuine disabled.

    Lets save some real money though and and ask why MPs pensions are not being included in the public sector pension review.

  • Comment number 56.

    24. At 09:58am on 10 Aug 2010, Fuzzy wrote:
    Tax avoidance is 15 times more than Benefit fraud. Why is George Bush oops sorry David Cameron concentrating on this..... because all his friends are on the tax fiddle.
    ========================================

    Tax avoidance is NOT illegal, neither is it illegal to put your money in a bank in Monaco in order to avoid paying British tax.

    Fraudulently claiming benefits, however, IS illegal.

  • Comment number 57.

    Cut back on benefits altogether by reducing the criteria for benefit payouts.

    1. Have a more comprehensive medical exmainiation to decide if people really can work - stats published a couple of weeks ago said 3 in 4 claim fraudulantly
    2. Don't pay per child - maximum of 2
    3. Don't pay for children having ADHD - never have understood that
    4. Keep unemployment benefits well below minimum wage to encourage layabouts to get back to work - people shouldn't earn more on benefits than working.
    5. Going on benefits should be a necessity not a choice.
    6. Unemployment Benefit claimers should earn what they recieve by voluntary work.

    Housing benefit has been capped and that is a start.

    Only after people have been deemed genuine should the relevant benefit be paid out - if there is any doubt don't pay them a penny.

    Get tough and save the country a few million.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.


    At present I'm a Full-time Carer looking after my sister. I received a very cold and sternly worded letter on 29th July, saying that I was under suspicion of Benefit Fraud. The exact nature of the accusation was not disclosed and I would be unable to speak to anybody about this concern until I complied with their instructions. I had to attend a recorded interview 'under caution' on the morning of the 5th August. This would be at a JobCentre in Fulham (despite the fact that there are numerous JobCentres where I live in East London). Further action would be taken against me, were I not to attend the interview.

    During the interview, I was made to sign a couple of acknowledgement forms, and was told that 'I didn't have to say anything if I didn't want to, though it could be used against me should I later say something in my defence that wasn't stated previously'. It felt like I was about to be arrested! I was then told that I was being accused of 'underclad employment'. That I was claiming Carer's Allowance during a period of employment in 2008-9. I explained that considering I was still in a caring capacity during that time, and after a telephone enquiry to the benefits enquiry line who reassured me of my entitlement whilst employed, I felt then that I was justified in claiming. Owing to Caring commitments, I had to stop working. It wasn't until November 2009 that after further enquiries, I discovered I was also entitled to Income Support. Over the next couple of months, and after several telephone enquiries, I was at the JobCentre signing forms, and being screened through various interviews for this claim which I eventually received.

    My interrogator said he found it strange that on the issue of Carer's Allowance, I would have been advised and reassured in that way. I said I found it strange that through a series of screening processes with regards to Income Support, the question of Fraudulent activity with Carer's allowance was never once brought up or mentioned (dispite my full disclosure of employment whilst claiming), until the rather threatening letter received less than two weeks ago.

    My case is to be decided by the interrogator's superiors, people who have never met me or know my circumstances. I would hear from them within an unstated period of time where I face a maximum fine no more that £2000, further prosecution, or a 'Caution' on a Criminal Record. I have never had dealings with the law or the police in my entire life.

    Had I not taken notes of all the exact dates that I made claims for benefits, or did not now how to get to that location independently (an obvious inconvenience considering that I had caring responsibilities) - the interview would have succeeded in it's apparent intent to intimidate, and gather recorded evidence from the vulnerable and unprepared accused.

    Carer's, Cameron once said, were the heroes and champions of society during the Election. Strange that he now seems so vehemently moved to destabilise them and benefit claimants in general: indiscriminate collateral damage for the sake of 'Welfare Reform' and the economy.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    If you really want to make the benefits system more cost-effective, it needs a radical overhaul of the extremely cumbersome processes involved. Yes, there are - and always will be - fraudsters, but there is far more waste caused by badly-designed inefficient systems than gets ripped off by rogues.

  • Comment number 62.

    80% of this £5.2billion is caused by problems within the system not fraud.

    Let's have this millionaires club of a government at least tell the truth. Cameron said no spin but a comment piece in the Observer last Sunday showed how he was spinning the economic situation. Now we get Grayling on Today trying to avoid agreeing that the majority of the loss was through systemic failure.

  • Comment number 63.

    Here we go again. Usual posters bemoaning the fact that the poor benefit fraudsters are being targeted instead of the rich tax avoiders.

    Theft is theft regardless and should be dealt with accordingly.




  • Comment number 64.

    "33. At 10:06am on 10 Aug 2010, ady wrote:
    Just out of interest.

    How can private companies be allowed access to private government held information???
    I give that information confidentially!!

    I don't want some smelly little private sector company trawling through my government record!"


    With discs, memory sticks, brief cases going missing - you never thought it was private, did you?!

    Seriously - I agree with you absolutely. And if I get junk mail because my details have been sold on - I can see it now!

    And these companies will presumably have an additional financial reward, or even to keep their contracts, for finding cheats so they too may have the incentive to cheat.

  • Comment number 65.

    What is the best way to crackdown on benefit fraud?

    How about a radical idea instead of all this pussy-footing round with snooping and investigating fraud:

    Tackle the problem at the root cause, and create some decent WELL PAID jobs in the UK.

    ... and why can the benefits agencies not carry out their own crackdown? Not enough resources. Experian will, I'm sure, be doing the job cheaper than doing it within the departments!

  • Comment number 66.

    · 34. At 10:07am on 10 Aug 2010, Out for Lunch wrote:
    I have to agree with the majority of the comments above.. what a waste of time trying to fight fraud. After all, these are poor people, and what's £5.2 billion anyway? It's a tiny figure after all.

    Who's going to begrudge unemployed fraudsters their 40 cigarettes/8 pints of lager a day? It's a very, very hard life and we should all leave them alone. I honestly think they deserve a pay INCREASE. Let me ask my boss if I can pay EVEN MORE tax and NI for these people...
    #######################

    Ask your boss if you can pay even more tax & NI to fund the political spin lead witch-hunt

  • Comment number 67.

    It's not so much the benefit fraud, so much as the level of benefits legally available.

  • Comment number 68.

    We have to reform the whole public sector and welfare system, so SOMETHING has to be done. Hopefully this will work. Their are billions of pounds lost of OUR hard earned money to fraudsters and crooks. The last 'government' left us with one TRILLION pounds of debt on the books and THREE (3) TRILLION pounds debt 'off books'. This is the problem that the left do not want to even admit to, never mind tackle. Again those 'nasty' Tories will have to sort it out. Hopefully this will sort the public sector out and bring it into the 21st century and not bend to the sob stories and sentimentalism of the incompetant left.

  • Comment number 69.

    It doesn't see unreasonable that benefit claims are audited and managed. There is enough evidence that a proportion are inaccurate or fraudulent.
    A private company is probably a more cost effective way than a quango or OFT something or other which is ineffective except for gobbling money like a black hole. Trouble is like wheel clamping the private company will exploit & take thing to the extreme in persuit of even bigger contracts and justifiable results. That would need some contract compliance moniotring and so back to the OFT something or other...... ah well!
    All that said the enforcement cost should annually be audited and measured against savings if that doesn't show a reasonable cost save margin, forget it !
    What will happen is we shall probably spend £2 for every £1 saved.

  • Comment number 70.

    Dear Its all Thatchers Fault and The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

    You have both criticised John Charlton for using the word estimated. Please can you enlighten the rest of us as to what facts you posses on the subject of benefit fraud?

  • Comment number 71.

    You cannot read any of the local newspapers without there being a (reasonably) high profile benefit fraud conviction being reported. Most of the cases I've read about have the main stages:
    1. Initially claimed benefit legitimately
    2. Circumstances changed (new partner moved in, child left school, got a new job).
    3. Didn't tell the relevant benefit agency.
    4. Continued to recieve benefit for months/years amounting to thousands.
    5. Person is of limited income so will only pay £1.50 a week back with no interest charged on the debt.

    There is an extremely simple way to prevent this sort of 'overclaim'. Simply do not allow any benefit (apart from pension) to be paid forever and a day without some form of reapplication or review. If people had to reapply for benefits every few months many ongoing 'honest' mistakes would be spotted (unless the claimant intends to be dishonest and make a fraudulent claim).

    For anyone claiming illegitimately from the outset apply the Proceeds of Crime Act in full against anyone convicted to maximise the taxpayers recovery. Sell any assets the person owns like cars, TVs, computers, microwaves, stereos and houses at auction. If the amount recovered isn't enough transfer the balance as a loan from one of the banks we own and charge interest (the banks will send baliffs around regularly if they fail to keep up with payments).

    We charge interest on student maintenance loans and students haven't even committed a crime! Why should fraudsters be protected from paying interest on their debt to society?

  • Comment number 72.

    All claims where people have bought homes on the dole? Ive seen people get mortgages after signing off for a few months and then go back onto benefits to have the government pay the mortgage.its been going on for years.

  • Comment number 73.

    As the initial article points out, benefit fraud is a rare thing.


    So hiring private investigators would appear to be a waste of money in itself.

    Not to mention the issues it raises concerning individual liberty and yet more evidence of an intrusive nanny state.

  • Comment number 74.

    "28. At 10:02am on 10 Aug 2010, lefty_lefty wrote:
    IF YOU CAN TYPE AND THINK YOU CAN WORK."


    You are aware that some hospital beds have internet access provided you pay for it?

  • Comment number 75.

    Simples dont give out any benefits ; whatever system or controls you introduce there is always the criminal , fraud individuals who will work there way into getting money . O stop the immigrant population coming here on freebies , the whole thing is a mess

  • Comment number 76.

    What David Cameron should do is to integrate the computer systems and to allow benefit officers access the immigration database. Home office and Benefit department should work very closely together.

  • Comment number 77.

    Not against clamping down on "Benefit Cheats" but let's level the playing field and also use equal force in clamping down on the tax avoiding "Tycoon Cheats".

    "It's the rich what gets the pleasures,
    it's the poor what gets the pain".

  • Comment number 78.

    33. At 10:06am on 10 Aug 2010, ady wrote:
    Just out of interest.

    How can private companies be allowed access to private government held information???
    I give that information confidentially!!

    I don't want some smelly little private sector company trawling through my government record!


    ===================================================================
    You make a good point. How about leaving it all on a laptop on a train somewhere and telling the contract provider where it is?
    I suppose they will access it because the government say they can. Probably they will be allowed to use, sell do whatever with the info. in exchange for a cheap or no cost contract for policing the benefit system.

  • Comment number 79.

    So a private company is going to be given access to confidential government data on people who claim welfare so they can spy on these people to see if they are fraudently claiming? What a frightening prospect particularly as their profits will rely on the number of people they can "discover" have fraudently claimed.

    Are we to have a private company to monitor MPs fraudently claiming expenses and tax dodgers or is it just the poor we want to spy on?

    The way this country is going worries me.

  • Comment number 80.

    Pay £500 cash reward anonymously for information on benefit cheats and you will catch them all within 48 hours.
    End of story

  • Comment number 81.

    It is our money which is being stolen by fraudulent claimants, and I emphasise 'stolen' and 'fraudulent', I am happy for it to go to genuine ones.

    I am also a business man. If it costs more to recover it than the sum likely to be recovered, forget it as hard as that is to swallow. There are individuals and groups of individuals in this country who believe the world owes them a living. I feel sorry for them, but I do not see why I should subsidise them.

    Fraud = theft. Sloppy systems and processes have allowed this to happen. I have no idea of the best way of identifying the thieves, if the use of credit agencies helps and the cost of recovery is less than the sums owed, go for it.

  • Comment number 82.

    8. At 09:43am on 10 Aug 2010, Andy B wrote:
    Irrespective of what other issues need to be takled, surely if you can tackle this one in a fair and cost effective way, then you should? Or do we really want to send out a message that fraud is OK, if there are other issues going on?

    As for tax avoidance, I couldn't agree more. But rather than starting with "Non-Doms" who are actually paying tax on their income in the country in which is it earned (contrary to what the media and certain political parties will tell you), maybe the focus should be on the scams of contractors and private equity setting themselves up as companies; earning £100ks, paying corporation tax at 25% and NO National Insurance! I work in IT and know a number of people who do this and are proud that they are doing it, saying that the system allows it, so that is fine. Easy, let's change the system.

    This annoyed me so much I had to comment on it - I am a contractor and contary to what you beleive, I pay corporation tax, income tax, VAT, employees national insurance and employers national insurance. I pay more than my fair share of tax and certainly cannot avoid it. I may get paid more than a permenant employee would but I am disposable, do not get sick pay or a pension or holiday I have to foot the bill for these myself. It is a minefield dealing with all the tax issues. If you are so annoyed at contractors become one yourself, it isnt all a bed of roses. I personally love the freedom of contracting and at least I am contributing to the tax pot. Pick on the people who sit on their backsides and think the world owes them a living!





  • Comment number 83.

    Since the coalition got in I've been saying they'd be every bit as bad on civil liberties issues as Labour were, and this move suggests they're going about it in much the same way: start by snooping on a group that nobody is going to object to snooping on such as suspected fraudsters, then let function creep take its course. Another humiliation in the making for the "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" lobby.

  • Comment number 84.

    the best way is to let the public inform on people they know are committing benefit fraud. The government should publicise a central address where the public can inform on people they know are committing benefit fraud and tax and VAT fraud. The use of "bounty hunters" paid on results is to be encouraged. The public know the fraudsters first so use the public to inform.

  • Comment number 85.

    46. At 10:15am on 10 Aug 2010, TerryT wrote:
    How about recoving some of the £850 BILLION (conservative estimate) that the banks stole from the tax payer to prop up their balance sheets. Or maybe some of the money benefit cheats stole from the tax payer to pay for second homes / duck ponds etc?. What about the £billions of evaded tax stolen by wealthy fat cats who can afford good accountants??

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    This argument is used a lot and I agree to an extent. In reality we don't want to annoy the banks or aggravate the situation. Yes we bailed them out and we have as a result made an investment. What we now need to do is support and encourage the banks to nurture our own investment. At a later date when the banks and markets are stable we can sell our investment for a very tidy profit. Its just a case of waiting for the right time to sell.

  • Comment number 86.

    I'm slightly concerned that a private firm is being used to police benefit claimants. How far are they allowed to go in order to check up on claimants and recover fradulent claims?

  • Comment number 87.

    We need to tackle the "Benefit Culture" - generations of families who have never work, will never work etc. How can parents and grandparents who have never worked help their children and grand children have a work ethic. Ensure that it is better for people to work than be on benefits.

  • Comment number 88.

    So we should not persue benefit fraudsters because it costs more money to prosecute than is saved? Do we do this with all crimes that will cost lots of money? I would think that the majority on this topic, left thinking and probably having a vested interest in not wanting investigators, think that a crime against property should not be investigated.

    They have no qualms whatever when we spend £200M on an investigation into riots in NI in the seventies or investigations into "illegal wars".

  • Comment number 89.

    56. At 10:25am on 10 Aug 2010, Mrs Vee wrote:

    24. At 09:58am on 10 Aug 2010, Fuzzy wrote:
    Tax avoidance is 15 times more than Benefit fraud. Why is George Bush oops sorry David Cameron concentrating on this..... because all his friends are on the tax fiddle.
    ========================================

    Tax avoidance is NOT illegal, neither is it illegal to put your money in a bank in Monaco in order to avoid paying British tax.

    Fraudulently claiming benefits, however, IS illegal.


    Isn't it funny that people on HYS always seem to confuse Tax AVOIDANCE with Tax EVASION. Any one who has a Cash ISA savings account is avoiding tax - lets lock them all up!

  • Comment number 90.

    Government is not really interested in this as there is a bargain pay benefits avoid crime.

    But if they really wanted to clamp down on it give the person who identifies a benefit cheat an incentive. Basically, make it financially beneficial for someone to "snitch" on a cheat. This means Government pays a "bounty" of 10% of the cheats illegal benefits to the person who snitches.

    At the sametime make the onus of proof that the benefit cheat is innocent rather than presume innocence.

    This has the benefit that the joke known as the benefits investigation teams could be sacked. The public can then lodge suspicions and get rewarded for it.

  • Comment number 91.

    Scrap benefits.

  • Comment number 92.

    If you SMASH UP the WHOLE UK economy by DEFRAUDINGLY packaging & SELLING £ BILLIONS UPON £ BILLIONS of USELESS investments to UK banks then in Britain the WORST you can expect is a PROD with Ken Dodds tickling stick.

    NOw, just watch Cameron show his ANGER at benefits cheats.
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    I'm not disagreeing with you except to add that aside from the banks, it was also your beloved labour that spent us into huge debt. Your anti tory posts can't hide that fact no matter how hard you try.

  • Comment number 93.

    It is public money and all available tools should be used to ensure it goes to those in legitimate need.

    Also, equal effort needs to be applied to ensure tax avoidance is investigated by the authorities.

    SO ads about benefit cheats should ALSO say that those avoiding tax are being chased as well.

  • Comment number 94.

    Yet again more attacks on benefit claimant's from our wonderful coalition government. I would much rather tax dodgers and Non Doms are targeted. Michael Ashcroft, the Tory backer, has allegedly dodged paying £127m in taxes! But, heh, far easier to go after someone living on a council estate than someone who has friends in high places. Yet more hypocrisy from our politicians.

  • Comment number 95.

    I find it incredibly insulting that the government are taking such a hard line on benefit cheats when they won't take their own to task regarding expenses claims. It's all tax payers money, but it seems that those at the bottom are criminals for trying to claim a little extra to make ends meet, yet millionaire MP's fiddling their expense claims were going by the letter of the rules. I'm glad they've stopped showing the public information commercial threatening benefit cheats, it's insulting.

  • Comment number 96.

    I have always wondered why the PAYE system is not used. Set a basic income. If you earn more than this, you pay tax, if you earn less your money is made up to the basic income. Sounds simple to me. You could even extend it to include council tax on the same basis. That way you could get rid of all the means test staff and a lot of the benefit checkers.

  • Comment number 97.

    Incredible that one of the firms mentioned was in fact , allegedly helped in getting Laws changed by paying Lords.....it would be amazing to think that a firm would then get a large government contract, or does it infact say a lot about the way, our parliament runs.

  • Comment number 98.

    They'd save more money tackling administrative errors first which, by their own admission, costs a fair bit more than fraud.

    That's not to say benefit fraud shouldn't be tackled though, although I'm not sure of the wisdom of putting it in the hands of credit reference agencies.

    Then again, I suppose a benefit fraudster would have a good argument to say they should be treated as leniently as most of the expense fraudsters in Westminster. Sure, benefit fraud is wrong but it's a bit cheeky of the government to start playing hardball on that so soon after they've been caught with their hands in the till.

  • Comment number 99.

    I heard the argument that those on benefits contribute to the economy by spending their benefits which keeps people in work. Well, my take on that is that I could spend my money just as well as they can, if not better. I don't get the choice of whether I fund these people or not.

    Maybe we should have referenda on what we want out taxes to support - the bleeding hearts might find that a life on benefits is severely restricted. Like in parts of the US where benefits are limited to 5 years - it was amazing to see how many people found work when their time was up!

    Again in parts of the US also they will pay for a single mother who has one child on benefits - if she has another while on benefits her benefits do not increase. The outcome, strangely they stopped having more than one child!!!!!

    It would work here too. Or we could maintain the status quo where a local SIXTEEN YEAR OLD is having her THIRD child...says it's because you can't get a house unless you have 3 children now as there's too much demand. You tell me what chance those children have.

    Is that benefits fraud? If it's not it certainly should be.

  • Comment number 100.

    67. At 10:35am on 10 Aug 2010, rodley25 wrote:
    It's not so much the benefit fraud, so much as the level of benefits legally available.
    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Absolutely agree with this 100%. A blank cheque seems to be this (and previous) governments attitude to benefits.

 

Page 1 of 14

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.