United Kingdom

UK Government to spend £500m on benefits crackdown

THE UK Government plans to give a £510 million cash injection to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to help it crack down on fraudsters lying about their benefit claims.

Under plans announced today, the Government says it will use the money to improve the Department’s capability and capacity to detect and prevent benefit fraud and catch those responsible.

Around 2000 trained specialists will review claims by carrying out property checks, following up on the earning declarations of self-employed claimants and cross-checking bank details.

Ministers hope the crackdown will recover more taxpayers’ money.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: “Investing in measures to fight fraud protects honest taxpayers’ money and stops criminals funding their illicit activities off the back of our welfare system.

“We know the characteristics of a suspicious claim. This half-a-billion-pound cash injection is a clear message to fraudsters and criminal gangs: Anyone trying to con us will get caught out.”

On a recent case in Stratford-upon-Avon, investigators from the DWP joined forces with West Midlands Police.

Operation Iggy was a sting on a woman who had made 14 Universal Credit claims for a total of £270,000 using false identity documents.

She was arrested and the false documents were found in her house. She was sentenced to 30 months in prison. The DWP is now recovering the money.

According to the DWP, one tactic counter-fraud officials use to bring criminals to justice includes gathering intelligence from cases where fraudsters have used Photoshopped pictures in their attempt to verify their fraudulent benefit claim, making it easier for investigators to catch them.

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