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Benefit Fraud

Volume 737: debated on Monday 4 September 2023

We continue to bear down on fraud and error. It decreased by 10% in 2022-23. There is of course still more to be done, which is why we are investing £900 million to reduce that figure still further by £2.4 billion by 2024-25.

During the pandemic, the Government rightly got support out to people as quickly as possible, but that inevitably meant that errors were made and some people took advantage of the situation. What is being done to clamp down on fraud and errors in universal credit?

A huge amount, including the targeted case review, which over the next five years will review hundreds of thousands of universal credit claims to look for fraud and error. Of course, we use emerging new technologies for that purpose as well.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. I absolutely support the principle that those who carry out benefit fraud must be made accountable, but what I find in my office—I think that others in the Chamber will probably find this as well—is that many people have filled in an application form, document or review and inadvertently ticked the wrong box. By doing so, they have left themselves in a very difficult position where they find that they have to make a repayment. Sometimes people need help at the initial stages to ensure that they get it right. What can be done to help those people so that they do not get into debt that they did not expect to be in?

There is help within jobcentres. There is also Citizens Advice, and a help to claim process available there. When people make genuine errors and when they have been overpaid for various reasons, we are of course sympathetic, to ensure that we do not put them in a position where it is incredibly difficult for them to repay those amounts.