The National Audit Office said overpayments due to fraud and error had risen from £980m to almost £1.4bn between 2010-11 and 2013-14
Housing benefits goes to 5 million households on low income or unemployed, so therefore being difficult to administer is understandable. Total payments in 2013-14 were £23.9bn. This included £900m in overpayments due to claimant error, £340m due to fraud and £150m due to errors by officials.
However the department of working pensions and local councils will be implementing new strategies to tackle this. The government has introduced a system allowing the DWP to access “real-time information” from the Treasury about people’s earnings and pension’s incomes. In turn this may affect the tax payer, funding will be needed for this new detection system.
A national study recently carried out by the Audit Commission has found that of the £18.5 billion spent nationally each year on Housing and Council Tax Benefit, fraudulently obtained overpayments are estimated to exceed £200 million. It is important to remind ourselves that every pound lost through fraud affects citizens by increasing taxation and threatening essential services such as social care, housing and education.