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Welfare Fraud and Error

Volume 742: debated on Monday 18 December 2023

5. What steps his Department is taking to reduce levels of fraud and error in the welfare system. (900701)

In 2022-23, fraud and error fell by 10%. We are investing £900 million in addition to that which we have already put forward to prevent £2.4 billion of fraud and error by 2024-25.

I thank the Secretary of State for his answer and welcome the measures the Government are taking. On the new powers to search through bank accounts to look for fraudulent transactions, can he confirm that the Government will seek to use them only where fraud is suspected and will not, as some people have suggested, search every state pensioner’s bank account to look for something that almost certainly will not be there?

I thank my hon. Friend for what is a very important question, because there has been a great deal of scaremongering about what exactly these powers are about. I can make it categorically clear from the Dispatch Box that these powers are there to make sure that, in instances where there is a clear signal of fraud or error, my Department is able to take action. In the absence of that, it will not.

The cost of living payments are a vital means of support during the cost of living crisis, but my constituent has lost out, through no fault of her own, because of the well-known issue whereby two of her work paydays fell within the assessment period used to assess eligibility. Will the Government review the eligibility process for the third cost of living payments to ensure that no one else misses out?

This is a long-standing issue that crops up every few years. It is not something on which the Government intend to take specific action. We trust people to manage their finances, such that they can cope with the occasional eventuality where there is an additional year within any one calendar year.