DWP should have increased its focus on Housing Benefit fraud and error sooner

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The total level of benefit overpayment due to fraud and error has increased to an estimated £1.4 billion in 2013-14 (5.8% of spending on this benefit) from £980 million in 2010-11 (4.6%).

In 2013-14, the DWP spent £23.9 billion on this means-tested benefit to help the 5 million households on low income to pay rent. Claimant error is the main cause of overpayments (£900 million in 2013-14) while the estimated rate of fraud has remained the same at 1.4% (£340 million).

The DWP accepts that it is ultimately responsible for Housing Benefit fraud and error, and bears most of the financial risk if overpayments are not prevented or identified. The report considers that the DWP has not established sufficiently clearly how the responsibilities for tackling fraud and error are divided between it and local authorities.

According to today’s report, the DWP has relied too ...

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