DWP handing out new benefits fines with ’nowhere to hide‘ warning | Personal Finance | Finance


Everyone on benefits including Universal Credit and PIP could be hit by new fines thanks to a law change put forward by the government.

Plans unveiled in the government’s new Fraud Bill today, Monday May 13, propose several changes to the way benefits work aimed at cracking down on cheats gaming the system out of billions of pounds.

The plans, in an effort to knock £1.6Billion of fraud off the predicted £85Billion welfare bill by 2030, include new powers for the DWP and HMRC. One such power which will come into law if the bill gets through parliament will see a new ‘civil penalty’ to punish fraudsters.

Civil fines, like on the spot parking fines or littering fines, do not require a court to be issued and could see DWP officers issuing fixed penalties for suspected benefit cheats.

The government also wants to ‘lower the burden of proof’ as well as ‘broaden the scope of cases’ to be able to fine more people. The fines will be issued even when criminal charges do not proceed, under the new bill.

The plan says: “Introduce a new civil penalty to punish fraudsters. This will ensure that where fraud has taken place, there is always an appropriate consequence so that offenders cannot gain from the system.

One such power which will come into law if the bill gets through parliament will see a new ‘civil penalty’ to punish fraudsters. Civil fines, like on the spot parking fines or littering fines, do not require a court to be issued and could see DWP officers issuing fixed penalties for suspected benefit cheats.

The government also wants to ‘lower the burden of proof’ as well as ‘broaden the scope of cases’ to be able to fine more people. The fines will be issued even when criminal charges do not proceed, under the new bill.

The plan says: “Introduce a new civil penalty to punish fraudsters. This will ensure that where fraud has taken place, there is always an appropriate consequence so that offenders cannot gain from the system.

“The penalty reforms include lowering the burden of proof and broadening the scope of cases the penalty can be applied to.

“It will ensure that this applies across all types of payments, with those exploiting access to vital grant payments for no good reason being punished in cases where criminal proceedings are not taken forward.”

The report says more checks on DWP claimants as well as new prompts for people claiming to re-declare their circumstances will also help tackle cheats.

It added: “The plan comes as fraud has become responsible for almost 40 percent of all crime, with just over a quarter of respondents to the 2022 British Social Attitudes Survey saying that it is either ‘Not Wrong’ or only ‘A Bit Wrong’ for an unemployed benefit claimant to not report £3,000 from a casual job.

DWP are also planning to save £9 billion by 2028 in a sustained crackdown on benefits cheats. From hiring 2,500 new staff to check millions of Universal Credit claims for accuracy, modernising information-gathering powers, to introducing a new civil penalty to punish fraudsters, and investing £70 million into advanced data analytics – these measures will mean those who wish to exploit the natural compassion and generosity of the British people will have nowhere to hide.”

“The penalty reforms include lowering the burden of proof and broadening the scope of cases the penalty can be applied to.

“It will ensure that this applies across all types of payments, with those exploiting access to vital grant payments for no good reason being punished in cases where criminal proceedings are not taken forward.”

The report says more checks on DWP claimants as well as new prompts for people claiming to re-declare their circumstances will also help tackle cheats.

It added: “The plan comes as fraud has become responsible for almost 40 percent of all crime, with just over a quarter of respondents to the 2022 British Social Attitudes Survey saying that it is either ‘Not Wrong’ or only ‘A Bit Wrong’ for an unemployed benefit claimant to not report £3,000 from a casual job.

DWP are also planning to save £9 billion by 2028 in a sustained crackdown on benefits cheats. From hiring 2,500 new staff to check millions of Universal Credit claims for accuracy, modernising information-gathering powers, to introducing a new civil penalty to punish fraudsters, and investing £70 million into advanced data analytics – these measures will mean those who wish to exploit the natural compassion and generosity of the British people will have nowhere to hide.”



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