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Benefits System: Fraud and Error

Volume 698: debated on Monday 28 June 2021

The Department has taken huge steps to reduce and minimise fraud and error during the last 12 months. We have introduced a range of measures, including optimising digital capability, expanding our integrated risk and intelligence service and policy functions, developing prepayment risking techniques and introducing a prepayment enhanced checking service for high-risk claims.

I am grateful for the Minister’s answer. Of course, errors are inevitable in such a large system, be they errors with overpayment or underpayment. Apart from trying to stop that, the key thing is to make sure that they are communicated clearly and resolved swiftly, so what is his Department doing to ensure that this is the case?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right: we want to see issues resolved as quickly as possible. I would stress that the vast majority—around 95%—of payments are paid correctly, and the Department has processed over 4.3 million new universal credit claims since March 2020. The priority has been to get money to those people who need it desperately as quickly as possible. To do that, we streamlined some of our normal checks, but we are currently revisiting any high-risk claims that we paid during the covid-19 trust and protect period. I would of course be very happy to meet my hon. Friend to talk about this issue in more detail.