The government will look at seven things if they investigate your benefit claim.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is setting up a new team of 2,000 employees to review the existing two million-plus universal credit Claims.
The move is an effort to tackle £4 billion of taxpayer money that may be lost to fraud and error over the next five years.
The strategy of the DWP is laid out in its “”.Fighting Fraud in the Welfare System” Plan.
More than 20 million people in the UK claiming the state pension Or they benefit from a DWP to help with additional day-to-day costs.
The new team will review Universal Credit’s claims that DWP is at risk of being misinformed, including suspicious cases made during this period. coronavirus Epidemic.
They will look at the criteria for “benefits fraud,” which includes failing to mention whether your partner lives with you and supports you financially.
Another factor could be a change of house, or if one has inherited wealth.
The most common form is when a person receives unemployment benefits while working.
Other things that inspectors will consider are making excuses for illness or injury to get unemployment or disability benefits,
Manipulating accounts to show that a person has little money is another thing that investigators will look at.
or failing to report income from any business or employment to understate the income.
According to the DWP, benefits fraud is defined as “a person receiving state benefits to which they are not entitled or knowingly failing to report a change in their personal circumstances”.
If you fail to notify the DWP of a “change of circumstances” – such as if a partner is no longer living with you, if you have moved home, or if you have inherited any money, you Omission may be seen as fraud. ,
Investigators often wear plain clothes and can show up at the claimant’s home or work at any time.
According to the DWP, in 2021, welfare fraud amounted to an estimated £6.3bn, an increase from £2.8bn a year earlier, with a £2.1bn error.
The combined loss as a result of fraud and error was £8.4bn, equivalent to 3.9 per cent of profit expenditure.
In most cases, benefits-related fraud occurs when someone has claimed benefits they are not entitled to on purpose, such as not reporting a change in circumstances or declaring false information.
declaring false information
These may include making excuses for illness or injury to receive unemployment or disability benefits, or failing to report income from a business or employment so that income appears less than it actually is.
Other examples include living with someone who contributes to household income without declaring that income to the authorities, or manipulating accounts to show the claimant has less money.
The DWP requires proof to show that someone is receiving benefits they would not ordinarily be entitled to.
Fraud investigators are equipped with a range of powers that allow them to collect evidence through a variety of methods, such as surveillance, interviews and document tracing.
New powers to investigate
The new proposals would expand these powers to execute warrants, search and confiscate evidence and even make arrests.
The claimants will not know the exact details of the investigation against them until they are informed about it later.
It is generally believed that the only people who get investigated for profit fraud and other offences related to DWP are those who are openly cheating the system but this is not the case.
The DWP processes reports from the public, but has its own means of detecting when fraudulent activity may have occurred.
In short, anyone who benefits from DWP can be investigated at any time.
If DWP wishes to initiate a formal investigation, they must first notify the person in writing, by telephone or by email.
Once notified, the individual will be told whether they will be visited by a Fraud Investigation Officer (FIO), or made to attend an interview.
When sufficient evidence of potential fraud has been collected, authorities initiate an official investigation and notify the individual.
Common types of evidence collected can be reports from surveillance activities, photographs or videos, audio recordings, correspondence, financial data and interviews.
People claiming unemployment benefits who are seen walking to the workplace may come under the radar of the DWP.
Investigators can talk to the business owner or manager to find out why the person is there, what work they are doing and how much they are being paid.
They can also check the person’s social media accounts and search their online profiles for pictures, location check-ins and other possible evidence.
Some studies have shown that false reports of benefits fraud are common in the UK, with around 140,000 made each year.
The person under investigation is advised to cooperate as much as possible until the DWP determines whether there is a case against them.
Citizens Advice may also be able to offer free and unbiased advice.
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