In order to cut the £1.6bn-a-year cost of benefit overpayments in Britain, the government are introducing a pilot campaign in which benefit claimants who fail to disclose changes in their current circumstances, such as changes in employment or job role could face legal action and a fine.
In 2013, the £1.6bn cost of benefit overpayments due to an error by claimants was higher than the £1.2bn cost of deliberate benefit fraud.
The new six week campaign will target six pilot areas including Southwark and Hounslow in London, Blackburn, Blackpool and Epping Forest. The pilot is also going to run in Cardiff. Claimants in these areas could face a fine of up to £2,000 for not disclosing they have found a job or moved in with a partner.
Commenting on the new campaign, Welfare reform minister Lord Freud said the aim was to stop fraud and overpayment “before they even happen”.
He said: “It is only a small minority who commit fraud.”
“We are keen to make sure that claimants know that even small overpayments can really add up over time, so they must get in contact with us and let us know about changes in circumstances straight away.”
Taking a ‘Softer Approach’
The new campaign – which also promotes the reporting of anyone suspected of benefit fraud – has been described by sources at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as taking a “softer” approach to encouraging people to update their current status.
Posters used in the advertising campaign will ask “Claiming benefits? Got a new job? Make sure you tell us. We’re checking benefit claims.”
Letters sent out to claimants in the chosen pilot areas will also highlight the importance of notifying the DWP of a change in circumstances, highlighting the risk of a hefty fine or criminal prosecution.
The success of this pilot scheme will determine the form of a nationwide anti-fraud campaign, so be sure to keep an eye out for letters, posters, and adverts in your area following the pilot scheme to ensure you receive all necessary information.
Accidents Can Happen
While staying on top of responsibilities such as updating job statuses is vitally important, at Gray & Co we know accidents happen at the best of times, and even the most organised of people can slip up from time to time.
If you are caught unaware of these recent changes and are facing a fine because of this new Government campaign, call Gray & Co Criminal Defence Solicitors today on 01244 344 299 for expert advice and help with your case or use our contact form and we will call you back.
If you want to know more about our services and how we might be able to help with your benefit case the visit our main site for more details.