benefit fraud  

benefit fraud in the UK

  information technology and benefit fraud

Too often we see benefit cheats convicted because their benefits from the DWP have ceased (they may have got a job), but they have failed to tell the council that is also paying them benefits!

This is ridiculous. We are past the age of pen and paper. It must be simple for the DWP to generate automatic messages when someone comes off benefit, even if direct communication between databases at a reasonable cost is beyond the government IT function.

As well as the finacial argument, there is also a moral case for closing this gaping loophole. Benefit fraud is easy to commit, but often hard to detect and prosecute. We owe it to taxpayers and to vulnerable claimants to make the crime harder to commit if we can.

Data matching

But here's some good news. Every two years the Audit Commission runs the National Fraud Initiative (NFI), comparing databases. Across the UK, almost 1,500 organisations supply around 4,500 sets of data in areas including housing benefit, payroll and pensions.

This can, for instance, reveal dead people still making annual claims for their disabled blue badges, or people employed by one arm of the state telling the DWP they're unemployed. People who claim to be single and living alone may show up as married and probably co-habiting.