Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


  • Comment
Internal documents from a series of local authorities, which have been leaked to the Conservatives, show a 60% fall...
Internal documents from a series of local authorities, which have been leaked to the Conservatives, show a 60% fall in fraud targets months after the prime minister announced a crackdown on benefit fraud.

The Guardian (p11) reports that council officers are blaming the government for the increased fraud because of a ministerial ruling last April that local authorities must provide watertight evidence of fraud before they can cut benefits.

And it is estimated that an extra£200m will be lost nationally this year as a result of the changes.

Southend BC, which recouped£1.9m in housing benefit fraud last financial year, has only recouped£500,000 so far this year, with only three months left of this financial year.

An internal document at Bexley LBC, where fraud has increased by a similar amount, says that the ruling has made it 'virtually impossible' to prove fraud.

'In the last two years Bexley has had little difficulty in meeting its targets. However, the DSS's latest interpretation completely alters the situation,' the council said.

A DSS spokeswoman said that ministers had tightened the rules for cracking down on benefit fraudsters, who cost the government£4bn a year because local councils were themselves making exaggerated claims of fraud.

Alistair Darling, the social security secretary, last night issued a statement defending the government's handling of benefit fraud, pointing out that his department is spending an extra£100m to tackle housing benefit fraud.

'I have ended the money-for-nothing culture,' he said. 'The new system of housing benefit fraud targets produce real savings, not fictitious ones.'

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.