£50m Being Nabbed By Benefits Cheats Estimates Minister

MINISTER for Communities, Paul Givan, has revealed the Government has recovered £1.8m from benefit fraud, but estimates are that £50m is being grabbed through benefits cheats.

Speaking in the Assembly the Minister also said that 186 staff are employed tackling benefit fraud and eliminating errors in claims.

“It is estimated that one per cent of benefit entitlement is gained through fraud, which comes to about £50m of public money,” said Mr Givan. “People who receive support are entitled to receive it and need to receive it.

“However, those who do so fraudulently undermine the entire system, and it is right for us to tackle that problem aggressively.”

The Government is planning to spend £25m under the Fresh Start Agreement to tackle fraud and mistakes.

Mr Givan said: “That money is to enhance the work we are doing. Work is taking place with the [UK’s] Department of Work and Pensoions on enhancing IT equipment, improving the targeting of fraud and error, and developing closer relationships with the PSNI and HMRC.”

As well as fraud, a total of £17m of mistakes and errors were recovered.

“Tackling error is a major issue,” said the Minister. “People can unwittingly have benefits paid to them that they should not be in receipt of.”

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Jonathan Traynor
Northern Ireland journalist. Rock & metal enthusiast and owner of belfastmetalheadsreunited.blogspot.com.