DWP must clamp down on housing benefit errors says NAO

Written by Samera Owusu Tutu on 20 October 2014 in News

DWP are now facing an “escalating problem” with housing benefit error from both claimants and officials, according to National Audit Office (NAO).

An NAO report on Housing Benefit fraud and error, published on 17 October, found that overpayments made by the DWP had increased by nearly 6% to £1.4bn.

Of the £1.4bn, £340m of the overpayments were due to fraud – 1.4% of benefit spend; the rate of fraud has been stable since 2007-08.

There were, however, £150m in overpayments due to official error, which amounts to 0.6%, and the majority of overpayments were down to claimant error at £900m, 3.8% of benefit spending.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “The Department for Work & Pensions is facing an escalating problem. The DWP has recognised the need to do more and has been developing a new strategy.”

Substantial resources currently go into administering Housing Benefit at the local authority level, with £466m — nearly half total administrative costs   — earmarked for the task.

Strategies to tackle the errors, including local authority incentives, are now in place, though it is too early to measure their impact.

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Samera Owusu Tutu
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