Nuneaton MP Marcus Jones has raised questions in Parliament to seek assurances about the Government’s plans to tackle benefit fraud. He put the questions to the Secretary of State for Works and Pensions, the Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith MP on Tuesday.
During the debate, Marcus asked what steps the Minister was taking to increase the level of detection for benefit fraud. The answer provided confirmed that total fraud in the Department for Work and Pensions and the Treasury, covering benefits and tax credits, stands at £1.5 billion. The Minister confirmed that an additional 200 new anti-fraud officers were to be recruited to sanction about 10,000 fraudsters every year. Marcus further scrutinised the policy and pressed the Minister about the difference in approach and how the new Government will succeed where the last Government failed, despite their promises to be tough on benefit fraud.
The MP was assured to learn that the new universal credit reforms will help to reduce errors and the ability to claim fraudulently but was alarmed that prosecutions for false benefit claims slumped by 11% under the last Labour Government. The new Government will also be introducing a £50 on the spot fine for claimants who fail to notify the authorities of a change in their circumstances.
Commenting on the assurances he has received, Marcus said: “Many Nuneaton residents will be alarmed that despite knowing that benefit fraud existed prosecutions under the last Government decreased by 11%.
“I was pleased to receive the assurances I did, particularly in relation to the three strikes policy which consists of withholding benefits to those who consistently try to defraud hard-working taxpayers for their own selfish gain. We need also to educate people about the need to notify the relevant authorities about any change in their circumstances as that is also defrauding the state.”