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Social Security Benefits

House of Lords written question – answered on 7th November 2014.

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Photo of Lord Beecham Lord Beecham Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Justice)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the steps they are taking to reduce the cost of benefit fraud, what they propose to do, and how much they plan to spend, to reduce underpayments to claimants due to mistakes by officials or claimants.

Photo of Lord Freud Lord Freud The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Department takes both under and overpayments seriously and has in place a number of initiatives to address the errors that cause them. These activities address fraud as well as error, and both under and overpayments. It is therefore not possible to separate out the cost of activities focused exclusively on underpayments as a result of error.

Universal Credit will make the welfare system simpler by replacing six benefits and credits with a single monthly payment. This simplification is expected to lead to a reduction in fraud and error due to the fact that information about claimants will be held in one place and updated more frequently and easily.

For claimants that have income taxed under PAYE, Universal Credit will be linked to HMRC’s Real Time Information system, which will provide an automatic monthly update of their income thus reducing the potential for both error and fraud.

The Department has invested in compliance activity, so that case correctness is maintained and fraud and error entering the system are detected and resolved quickly. Across all delivery arms there is a focus on accuracy and quality, including a continuous quality checking regime to review claims and check processing accuracy.

We constantly review claims by checking them against data coming into our systems, in order to highlight potential anomalies. We do this by using business rules which focus on potential error to identify both under and overpayments.

The Department is taking steps to encourage claimants to ensure that the information provided to us is accurate and up-to-date. This includes a fraud and error communications campaign about driving behaviour change and emphasising that claimants must report any change of circumstances.

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