Andrew Bridgen questions the Department for Work and Pensions on the perceived lack of action on reported benefit fraud and asks about plans to increase staff in the counter-fraud teams.
Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Ind)
8. What steps his Department is taking to reduce benefit fraud. (903875)
The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Tom Pursglove)
We take all fraud very seriously and have a range of measures in place, supported by two tranches of additional investment totalling around £900 million, which will prevent a further £2.4 billion of loss by 2024-25. In May last year, we published “Fighting Fraud in the Welfare System”, which details our proposals for reducing fraud and error, including legislative change and closer working across Government.
I thank the Minister for that answer, but I have had numerous reports from constituents of alleged incidents of benefit fraud and what they perceive as a lack of action when they report them to the Department, so will the Minister inform the House by how many his Department plans to increase staff in the counter-fraud teams?
I am very appreciative of my hon. Friend raising this point. It is fair to say that we are coming after those who commit benefit fraud: it is unfair on the taxpayer, it is wrong, and that message must go out in the strongest terms. That is being backed up by action, as we set out in the plan. For example, over the next five years, we will see 2,000 specialists dedicated to getting across 2 million universal credit cases. That is an important contribution to make sure that we bring this money back into the Department where it rightly belongs.