DfC Reveals Benefit Fraud Runs To £56 million

Benefit Fraud Costing Public Purse £56 Million per year.

It has been revealed via the Department for Communities that benefit fraud is costing the Department roughly £56 million per year. Down News has contacted the Department in relation to this and have revealed that benefit fraud cost the Department £56.2 million in 2018 writes Kevin McAteer.

A spokesperson for the Department said: “Tackling benefit fraud is a key issue and the Department remains committed to ensuring people get the support they need from the benefit system. The Department remains committed to its robust strategy for tackling benefit fraud and will, where appropriate, continue to prosecute through the courts.”

It has also been revealed that convictions in relation to benefit fraud have decreased considerably from 2017 to 2019. See below.

2014-2015 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
294 272 280 316 191

Following weeks of negotiations and criticism of the British Governments funding for the Northern Ireland Assembly. It seems that funding lost via benefit fraud per year could possibly be spent elsewhere perhaps the NHS or other projects needing vital funding.

Speaking on the issue the Department added: “The Department is committed to ensuring that people get the support they need from the benefit system and has a robust strategy for tackling benefit fraud, which has seen a reduction from £60.9m in 2001 to £56.2m in 2018.

“Fraud is a means of deliberate theft and we have a team of dedicated fraud investigators who work with a variety of powers to help detect benefit fraud. In addition to prosecuting through the courts, the department will pursue vigorously the recovery of any money gained through benefit fraud.”

This raises serious questions as to the Department’s commitment to tackle such an issue that is draining the system of vital resources and funding.

Will the new Minister and Executive commit to tackling this issue head on? Will they continue to prosecute those responsible? And will they aim to reduce the significant cost to the public purse every year?

A reduction of 4.7 million in 17 years is hardly anything to sing about.£56 million a year is still a substantial sum of money that could be deployed elsewhere.