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DWP issue social media warning to Universal Credit claimants

Universal Credit claimants who use any type of social media are being warned about how they use it amid a crackdown by the Department of Work and Pensions.

A 2,000 strong DWP team launched last year aiming to crackdown on benefit fraud.

Called ‘Fighting Fraud in the Welfare System’, the plan is put in place by the government department with the aim of tackling the approximately £2 billion in losses approximately seto to be made by the DWP over the next five years.

The workers will review the circumstances of Universal Credit claims if flagged by the DWP amid suspicion of suspects providing incorrect details including those that may have entered the system during the pandemic.

Investigators may also social media accounts and search your online profiles for pictures, location check-ins, and other evidence to help tackle fraud.

It comes after more than 600 people across the UK were convicted of committing benefit fraud in 2021.

The DWP defines fraud as when “someone obtains state benefit they are not entitled to or deliberately fails to report a change in their personal circumstances”.

More information can be found on the government website.

According to Policy Mogul, fraud and error rates in 2023 fell to 3.6% (£8.3bn) from 4.0% (£8.7bn), with Universal Credit (UC) losses falling from 14.7% (£5,920m) to 12.8% (£5,540m).

The figures also reveal reduced rates of fraud, both overall and within UC.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride MP, said: “Our welfare system provides a strong financial safety net for vulnerable people, and no one should be able to cynically abuse that for profit.

“We are cracking down on fraudsters, and today’s figures show encouraging progress as DWP works to both prevent new fraudulent claims and collar cases where people have been shamelessly exploiting the system.

“While we may be beginning to turn the tide on fraud, there is no room for complacency and still much to do. Our £900 million Fraud Plan will help us deliver savings of over £9 billion for the taxpayer over the next five years.”

As part of the plan additional taxpayer money will be used to review millions of Universal Credit claims over the next five years.

They also provide intelligence on new and emerging ways to identify fraud and error entering the welfare system. 

DWP also plans to introduce a raft of new powers, including strengthening the penalty regime by introducing a new civil penalty for cases of fraud, which will act as a deterrent to those cynically seeking to exploit the system.

There are also plans to increase DWP officers’ powers to conduct searches, seize evidence, and make arrests.

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