Over 20 million people across the UK are claiming Universal Credit or at least one benefit from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to help with the additional costs of day-to-day living.

These benefits are designed for those that need it most during the cost of living crisis, henceforth the UK Government has been clear it will crack down on those exploiting the benefits system.

DWP figures indicate that fraud and error is decreasing in the benefits system after the government restated its determination to drive levels down further and protect taxpayers’ money.

The latest national statistics show that in the 2022/23 financial year, fraud and error rates fell to 3.6 per cent (£8.3 billion) from 4.0 per cent (£8.7 billion).

During the next financial year (2024/25), which starts on April 6, the DWP has announced it will measure a sample of claims from six specific benefits as part of its fraud and error exercise for 2024.

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The DWP will be measuring the following benefits for fraud and error:

  • Universal Credit
  • Housing Benefit (pension age cases)
  • Pension Credit
  • State Pension
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

In a new update on GOV.UK, the DWP also announced the State Pension measurement will include claims administered through the ‘Get Your State Pension online' service in the financial year ending 2024.

This will also see the measurement of DLA for the first time since the financial year ending 2005, which concludes its response to a consultation that ran in summer, 2018. The DWP intends to publish the fraud and error report for the financial year ending 2024 in May of the same year (2025).

The DWP defines the four types of fraud and error.

1) Fraud

Claims where all three of the following conditions apply:

  • the conditions for receipt of benefit, or the rate of benefit in payment, are not being met
  • the claimant can reasonably be expected to be aware of the effect on their entitlement
  • benefit payment stops or reduces as a result of the review

2) Common examples of benefit fraud

  • faking an illness or injury to get unemployment or disability benefits
  • failing to report income from a business or employment to make income seem lower than it actually is
  • living with someone who contributes to the household income without declaring that income to the authorities
  • falsifying accounts to make it seem like a person has less money than they say they do

3) Claimant Error

The claimant has provided inaccurate or incomplete information or failed to report a change in their circumstances, but there is no evidence of fraudulent intent on the claimant’s part.

4) Official Error

The benefit has been paid incorrectly due to a failure to act, a delay or a mistaken assessment by the DWP, a local authority or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), to which no one outside of that department has materially contributed, regardless of whether the business unit has processed the information.