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Benefits overpayments rise - rightsnet story on fraud and error


Robbie Spence
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Welfare Benefits Caseworker, Mary Ward Legal Centre

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Total Posts: 131

Joined: 14 July 2010

As usual, DWP lump fraud and error into one category. I think it’s important to separate them and so here is the breakdown from ‘Main Messages’ on p3: 
total overpayments 2.0% - £3.5bn
fraud overpayments 1.2%
claimant error overpayments 0.5%
official error 0.4%
underpayments 0.9% - £1.6bn

I was surprised to see this because, in the past, fraud has often been less than error and also less than underclaims. The report doesn’t say why. (It says “Failure to declare earnings and employment continues to be the main cause of fraud and claimant error overpayments.”)

Also, there is bad news re Universal Credit (page 8 and 9), where “overpayments have increased mainly due to a rise in official error” and, while UC underpayments are not as bad as before, they are still twice as bad as JSA: 1.2% for UC compared to 0.6% for JSA.

Mike Hughes
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Senior Welfare Rights Officer (Take-Up), Salford WRS.

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Financial competence has not historically been one of the DWPs strengths.