According to the most recent official statistics issued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), fraud and mistake in the benefit system are declining as the UK Government reiterated its intention to drive numbers down further and protect public money. In 2023, fraud and mistake rates decreased from 4.0% to 3.6% ($8.7 billion), while losses associated with the Universal Credit decreased from 14.7% ($5,920 million) to 12.8% ($5,540 million).
Despite the drop, Universal Credit still accounts for the highest level of fraud and error within the benefits system and DWP is ramping up existing efforts to crack down on those exploiting state-funded support. An ambitious plan will see millions of Universal Credit claims checked over the next five years to weed out fraudsters, especially those who exploited the eligibility easement during the pandemic.
A new video on Twitter also warns people not to be fooled by criminals purporting to be DWP asking for proof of ID by passport. This is a common form of identification for people making a new claim for Universal Credit or Jobseeker’s Allowance.
The Twitter post warns: “Be fraud aware and protect your personal details at all times. Your information could be used by criminals to commit benefit and other fraud.”
The accompanying video explains: “DWP may ask you to submit ID such as your passport. We will always add a message to your journal to prove it is us. Your information can be used by criminals to commit benefit and other fraud.
“If you believe you have been targeted, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”
DWP also shared that weeding out photoshopped images has played a significant part in saving taxpayer’s money.
It said: “During the last two years the team has received thousands of manipulated and constructed documents to try and pursue claims whilst being abroad. Skilled fraud officers can quickly detect and prevent and repair any fraud area that’s emerging, and they have to be much more experienced looking at these fraud trends.”
In one example of fraud, analysts noticed that the same lime green door appeared in photos offered by a number of claimants seeking to prove that they lived in the UK.
DWP Enhanced Review Team
The Enhanced Review Team (ERT) plays a vital role in tackling suspicious claims made to the DWP. Immediate and serious risk, requiring a rapid response is addressed via our ERTs. This prevents fraud in addition to detecting fraudulent claims in payment. The sources of data for ERT cases are a combination of referrals from staff at Universal Credit.
DWP said that ERT agents have had to develop their approaches to keep one step ahead of fraudsters – with organised criminal gang activity also a key factor. Officers conduct robust conversations by telephone and face to face and can ask customers to upload documentation to verify their claim.
They are also able to remove elements that are not verified and suspend or close the claim if no contact or verification documents have been received.