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Universal Credit: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 51934, tabled on 1 June 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the amount of universal credit payments that are suspected to have been claimed fraudulently since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

17 June 2020

Between 16th March 2020 and 29th May 2020, 129,000 Universal Credit claims were referred to the Department as at least one aspect of the claim was suspected to be incorrect. These referrals can occur for a number of reasons and will not all relate to fraud; some may be a simple misunderstanding by a claimant. Where DWP has a doubt about a person’s identity, no payment is made until that doubt has been cleared.

The figure includes referrals made by DWP staff and referrals to our Serious and Organised Crime team. Over 2.3 million new claims were made for Universal Credit during this period. We continue to monitor the level of referrals received in order to identify trends.

The Department continues to take the issue of benefit fraud extremely seriously. We have taken decisive action, creating our Enhanced Checking Service (ECS). ECS is a team of fully trained fraud investigators and is responsible for conducting additional checks on claims where front line staff have expressed doubt over a claimant’s entitlement to benefit. We have also maintained our Serious and Organised Crime and Economic Crime Group activity during this period, ensuring we continue to respond to risks and threats referred to us.

In addition, we are able to identify claims made during this period so we can review them as required once we return to business as usual. If benefit fraud is identified, we will ensure that appropriate action is taken.

*The figure relating to the number of fraud referrals received by the Department has been sourced from internal management information and was not intended for public release. It should therefore not be compared to any other figures subsequently released by the Department. This figure has been rounded to the nearest thousand.