Money Wellness
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calendar icon15 May 2024

Fears crackdown on benefit fraud could lead to another Post Office Horizon-style scandal

As the government announces a crackdown on benefit fraud, MPs have raised concerns the plans could lead to another Post Office Horizon-style scandal.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced it’s aiming to save £9bn by 2028 in a sustained crackdown on "benefit cheats".

DWP crackdown

It plans to achieve this in a number of ways, including:

  • hiring 2,500 new staff to check for inaccuracies in applications
  • increasing DWP's powers so it can look through the finances of anyone claiming benefits
  • introducing a new civil penalty to punish fraudsters
  • using partly-automated checks
  • investing £70m so AI can be used to detect fraud

'Scourge of benefit fraud'

Mel Stride, secretary of state for work and pensions, said:

“We are scaling up the fight against those stealing from the taxpayer…

“With new legal powers, better data and thousands of additional staff, our comprehensive plan ensures we have the necessary tools to tackle the scourge of benefit fraud.”

'Deeply alarmed'

But a group of MPs has said the plans could spark a scandal similar to the one that ended up with hundreds of subpostmasters wrongly sent to prison for fraud.

Tabling a motion, 30 MPs said:

“This house is deeply alarmed by the new powers contained within the data protection and digital information bill that would allow the government to engage in the mass surveillance of tens of millions of people’s bank accounts.”

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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