Latest Public Sector News

04.11.16

DWP and HMRC told to tackle benefit fraud and error after Concentrix fiasco

The DWP and HMRC need clearer plans to reduce fraud and error in the benefits and tax credits systems in the wake of the collapsed contract with Concentrix, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) declared today.

A report published by the PAC also criticised the government’s delays in the roll-out of Universal Credit, which it now expects won’t be fully completed until March 2022. 

The committee highlighted concerns over the impact delays would have on operational costs and the pressure placed on staff and claimants through the use of new and underdeveloped systems to deliver Universal Credit. 

Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, said: “Introducing Universal Credit and tackling fraud and error are significant challenges for the government, with serious implications for the lives of many people. 

“HMRC must do more to safeguard the interests of claimants as part of its strategy to address fraud and error and we will expect to see effective measures in place as a matter of urgency.” 

The report highlights the importance of the government’s need to make progress following the ‘meltdown’ in performance of Concentrix, whose contract was ended following complaints that claimants’ benefits had been cut unfairly. 

Despite this the PAC commented that neither the DWP nor HMRC had set meaningful targets to tackle fraud and error, which it interpreted as “a lack of confidence in and commitment to their own efforts to improve”. 

The PAC noted that the government had failed to act on previous recommendations given in an October 2015 report regarding set targets for reducing underpayments and a review of claimants’ experiences of the tax credits process. These recommendations have since been accepted by the two departments. 

The committee has advised that the DWP and HMRC report back to it on the targets they have set for underpayments and accuracy, and undertake further research into the problems that staff and claimants face. 

A government spokesperson defended its record on handling fraud and error, saying: “The reality is fraud and error in the benefits system is at a record low, reflecting the work we are doing to improve detection, prevention and recovery, in order to protect taxpayers' money. 

“We took swift and decisive action as soon as it became apparent that the contract with Concentrix was not working and we apologise to those affected.” 

They emphasised that Universal Credit has already been rolled out successfully in several areas nationwide, helping claimants to get into and stay in work better than the previous separate benefit system.

(Image c. Joe Giddens from PA Wire/ Press Association Images)

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Comments

Moira Hewitt   04/11/2016 at 19:31

UC help websites show hundreds of people not being pd. enough or on time to keep their landlords happy.

Moira Hewitt   04/11/2016 at 19:36

UC help websites show hundreds of people not being pd. enough or on time to keep their landlords happy.

Dalboy2267   06/11/2016 at 13:21

all this benefit fraud is disgusting after all its free money,people have to be sooooooo greedy and milk the system dry when theres other people who do work hard for there money and pay the tax for the people who scam the benefit system dry and a bone,what is wrong with people now days now every one else now getting kicked of the benefit system have to face employment like one link gets broken in the chain,the chain becomes broken,only takes one to create fraud every one else has the suffer,Ive been on benefits for a while at least ive never cheated the benefit system to those who have been very greedy lock them up behind bars and get them to pay every possibly penny back they have scammed over the years they have to pay it all back every last bit of it

Freespeach   07/11/2016 at 11:43

Fraud and error have targets to meet so they target disability benefits as this is easier to cast doubt on a persons claim. The people we see committing disability fraud had to complete a benefit claim form no doubt been completed by a benefits expert who knows the criteria. This same person then has to attend a medical by a qualified person who confirmed the person has a medical condition and agrees or disagrees with the stated difficulties. A DWP decision maker then decides on the level if any of entitlement based on the claimants circumstances and evidence presented in front of him/her. Then pops along fraud and error who use underhanded tactics to trick the claimant into thinking they had a change of circumstances and should have reported this. The claimant is then prosecuted and splashed all over media as being some kind of benefit fraudster. This is wrong and I'm afraid we are going to see more of this in an attempt to get fraud and error reduced.

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