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Counter-fraud Funding

Volume 705: debated on Monday 13 December 2021

Fraud is stealing from honest taxpayers. It is right we bring the collective weight of Government to bear on this growing challenge and I am determined to take further decisive action.

Across Government, 16,000 people, including counter-fraud experts, are currently working to tackle fraud. The world’s first Government Counter-fraud Function works to identify new and emerging fraud risks and to support Departments to improve capability to access and use data and analytics to tackle these risks.

My Department has worked hard to drive out fraud. Officials prevented more than £1.9 billion of fraud during the first year of the pandemic through strengthening our checks and disrupting the operations of serious and organised crime groups.

However, it is clear that we need to go further, both in terms of eradicating fraud from our current cases and designing fraud out of the system.

At spending review (SR) 2021, DWP secured £103 million for fraud and error activity to continue funding key fraud and error detection and prevention work originally agreed in spring Budget 2021. This first phase of funding enables DWP to secure the completion of our current transformation programme which will enhance our ability to prevent and detect fraud and error.

Today, I can announce additional funding of £510 million over the next three years. This second phase of funding, which will deliver significant savings over the SR period, will enable us to drive down the level of fraud in universal credit (UC) and collect more debt, through:

A targeted review of UC claims to allow us to systematically review stock UC cases to uncover fraud and error and remove it from the system;

a debt enforcement function to allow us to target hard to collect debt.

This funding also includes provision for a fraud prevention fund, which will allow us to explore and test innovative approaches to designing out fraud and error. This investment represents a further important step towards our long-term vision, dramatically reducing the level of fraud and error in the UC stock and more effective collection of debt while continuing to provide effective counter fraud operations on a larger scale.