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Summary

This report, published on 7 May summarises the Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry into government efforts to reduce losses to the exchequer through error and fraud in the benefits system.

The government believes that the introduction of Universal Credit (UC) will help to tackle fraud and error by reducing complexity. The Work and Pensions Committee (WPC) has recently expressed some doubt as to whether UC can be implemented according to the DWP’s timetable, but nonetheless decided to conduct a short inquiry to identify actions that could be taken to reduce fraud and error in the current system and in the future.

Estimates produced by the DWP indicate that about 0.7% of total benefits expenditure is lost through fraud. The WPC notes that the public perceive the extent of benefits fraud to be far greater than is actually the case and recommends that the government changes its reporting procedures to correct this.

Considerable attention is given in the report to the contributions made by local authorities to reducing fraud and error in its collaborations with the DWP, and to the costs incurred.

This briefing will be of interest to members and officers with an interest in welfare reform and particularly to members and officers in authorities with responsibility for Housing Benefit.

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