Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘fraud

Benefits Crackdown.

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Universal credit journal update - YouTube

You’ll be contacted via your online journal or a call from your Jobcentre.

This appeared a couple of days ago in the Mirror,

One million Universal Credit claimants told to act now as DWP starts benefit crackdown

Citizens Advice is warning claimants to check their online journals weekly and answer Jobcentre calls to ensure their payments are not terminated.

The Department for Work and Pensions is cracking down on benefit fraud in a move that will see over a million new claims over the past year investigated.

The government body said it has lost £8.4billion in the past 12 months – a figure it estimates is largely down to fraudulent claims and errors in a year when more than six million people joined Universal Credit.

Over that period, identity checks were processed online, for instance, rather than face-to-face and some information was taken on trust, such as the cost of rent.

The overall level of fraud and error across the benefits system increased by almost two-thirds, from 2.4% last year to 3.9%, the highest ever reported rate.

The fraud rate on the main benefit, Universal Credit, was up by more than 50%, it said.

We’ve teamed up with charity Citizens Advice to explain everything you need to know on the DWP’s Trust and Protect scheme, and the steps you should take to ensure you don’t lose out on benefits you’re entitled to.

What is the Trust and Protect scheme?

In the early stages of the pandemic last year, the DWP introduced new measures to make sure people could apply for benefits quickly, without the need to visit a Jobcentre.

This meant that some of the requirements relating to proof of identity, housing costs and household circumstances were eased.

Citizen’s Advice:

Citizens Advice – DWP’s ‘Trust and Protect’ scheme: Your need-to-knows

People who applied for Universal Credit as Covid hit could be subject to a benefits check by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The DWP is now looking at all claims made in the early stages of the pandemic  and asking people for this evidence to support their application. People who claimed New Style JSA and New Style ESA last spring may also be contacted.

How will the DWP contact me?

You’ll be contacted via your online journal or a call from your Jobcentre. This may show up as a withheld number. Make sure your contact details are up to date and try to check your online journal at least once a week for new notifications.

If you’re struggling to manage your online claim for any reason – including lack of access to a computer – you should be able to change to a non-digital claim. Citizens Advice can support you with this.

What happens if I can’t provide the right evidence?

If you can’t provide the right evidence, or you cannot be contacted by officials seeking to verify your claim, your payments could be stopped or changed. 

Universal Credit

This campaign relates to policy or practice in England and Wales.

We’ve helped over 300,000 people with Universal Credit issues since the beginning of the pandemic. Our clients’ evidence helps us play a key role in influencing the Government to ensure the welfare system works for all those needing support.

#KeepTheLifeline Campaign

We welcomed the Government’s decision at the start of pandemic to increase Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits by £20 a week. This uplift has provided a lifeline for millions of families across the UK, during extraordinarily tough times.

The uplift is in place until September 2021. We’re calling for it to be made permanent to provide financial security for millions of people and help support the country’s longer term economic recovery.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 24, 2021 at 5:28 pm

Monitoring of Claimants “suspected of Fraud” Extended to Social Media.

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Social Media Surveillance #infographic - Visualistan

This story has appeared. Some suggest it is scare tactics, even scare-mongering, but it is still threatening. What has social media got to do with making a benefit claim?

20 million benefits or Universal Credit claimants hit by warning over their social media accounts Birmingham Live.

Welfare claims including Universal Credit are managed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

The DWP can look at your bank account and social media if it suspects benefit fraud, claimants have been warned.

Welfare claims including Universal Credit are managed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

And it has emerged the body has the power to investigate potential crimes in several different ways.

More than 20million people are using welfare support in Britain – a figure that is expected to rise.

In case you had not got the messages Cambridgeshire Live headlines.

Universal Credit: Social media stalking and covert surveillance used to investigate suspect benefit claims

Manchester Evening News

Anyone who is on benefits or Universal Credit can have their social media and bank accounts monitored at any time, it has been reported.

And so it goes:

Meanwhile by coincidence….

DWP confirms when Universal Credit and PIP claimants will see face-to-face assessments restart

North Wales Live:

Face-to-face assessments of certain benefits are set to resume next month, it’s been revealed.

It comes after they were suspended last year by officials at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2021 at 3:23 pm

Universal Credit Fraud, DWP Hounds People for Debts they do not owe.

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It's a nightmare': woman faces £1,300 demand due to universal credit fraud | Identity fraud | The Guardian

 

This story appeared a couple of days ago and has raised a whole series of questions.

Stop hounding victims of universal credit fraud, DWP told

Guardian.

People whose identities have been stolen hit by demands for repayment for debt they do not owe.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is coming under pressure to stop hounding unwitting victims of a multimillion-pound universal credit fraud.

In November, the Guardian revealed how benefits staff were struggling to deal with calls from people whose stolen identities had been used to make fraudulent universal credit claims in their name.

We featured the case of a Hampshire woman who had known nothing of the claim she had supposedly made until the DWP’s debt collectors demanded she repay a £1,300 advance payment.

Further victims have come forward to say they, too, are facing demands for £1,400-plus and are being told that 20% of their December pay packet will be seized by the DWP, unless they agree to set up a repayment plan – all for a debt they do not owe.

Today, the Scotsman,

Pilot pursued by UK Government over ‘fraudulent’ benefits claim

A Scots pilot has told how he is being pursued by the UK Government for benefit fraud after having his identity stolen.

Andrew Simpson* was contacted in September by a debt management company run by the Department of Work and Pensions claiming he owed £821 due to fraudulently claiming Universal Credit while being employed. The debt collectors wrote to his employer, demanding that the money was deducted from his next pay cheque.

However, Mr Simpson, from Edinburgh, who has been in full-time work with his current employer for the past eight years, has never claimed Universal Credit or any other kind of benefit

Our old chum meanwhile is enjoying some sexy-time looking at her achievements.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 13, 2020 at 10:53 am

Questions about Tackling Fraud , Error in the Benefits System as Universal Credit System still ‘Undeveloped”.

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Unemployment cartoons, Unemployment cartoon, funny, Unemployment picture, Unemployment pictures, Unemployment image, Unemployment images, Unemployment illustration, Unemployment illustrations

There is more to this than meets the initial headline.

Spending watchdog urges clearer plans for cutting benefit system fraud and error.

Reports Welfare Weekly.

Efforts to tackle fraud and error in the benefits system must be stepped up following the “meltdown” over Concentrix’s role in the tax credit system, the Commons spending watchdog has said.

The cross-party Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said fraud and error remained a “significant problem” for the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Outside contractor Concentrix was tasked with reducing fraud and error in the tax credits system but HMRC announced last month that its contract would not be renewed following complaints that claimants’ payments were wrongly cut.

The PAC welcomed some of the action taken by DWP and HMRC to tackle the problems in the benefits and tax credits systems, but demanded more action.

The report said: “While it is encouraging to see the departments targeting the causes of losses, such as misreported income, they also need clearer plans to reduce fraud and error in other challenging areas such as cohabitation and claimants pretending to live in the UK who live abroad.

“Recent issues relating to HMRC’s contract with Concentrix to investigate suspected fraud and error by tax credit claimants highlights the need to get these plans right.

“We remain disappointed by the absence of stretching targets for tackling fraud and error.”

So far so sadly predictable.

But Lo! there is this:

The committee also raised fresh concerns about the troubled Universal Credit programme, the Government’s flagship welfare reform aimed at simplifying a series of separate benefits into one payment.

The MPs warned that “systems underpinning Universal Credit are still underdeveloped and there are signs of pressure on staff”.

They also raised concerns that the “rigid” monthly assessment period could cause problems for claimants whose pay or rent were based on four-weekly cycles.

The report Universal Credit and fraud and error: progress review section on Universal Credit  says,

The Department started to roll out its “full service” version of Universal Credit to jobcentres in May 2016. It is rolling out at a rate of five centres a month and the Department had planned to scale up to 50 centres a month from February 2017. But on 20 July 2016, just hours before we took oral evidence on this inquiry, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions released a written ministerial statement, outlining a further delay to the roll out of the programme.3 The statement outlined a slower roll-out of the Department’s full service systems, which would continue to roll-out to only five centres a month until June 2017, before increasing the speed of the roll-out. The Department now envisages that the full service will be available in every jobcentre by September 2018 rather than June 2018, and that the roll-out of Universal Credit will now be complete by March 2022, 12 months later than previously announced and four and a half years after October 2017, the planned completion date at the start of the programme.4

3.The Department attributed the delay in roll-out to scope changes following policies announced in the Summer Budget 2015. These include removing eligibility for housing elements from 18 to 21 year olds, reducing the “limited capability for work” element to zero and restricting the number of children that Universal Credit will pay for to a maximum of two.5 These policy changes were announced in July 2015; well before our last evidence session in December 2015, and before the Department submitted its Outline Business Case to HM Treasury for approval in September 2015.6 The Department has therefore had a long time already to consider how to apply the policy changes to its systems, and actually had 21 months in total to implement the changes before they come into force in April 2017.7

4.The Department for Work & Pensions denied that it was attributing wider operational problems to changes in policy, and told us that a recent internal review of the Universal Credit programme concluded that it would have been on track to deliver 50 jobcentres in February 2017, if the Department did not have its issue of new scope to deal with.8 The Department told us that this new timetable should be feasible if no further policy changes are announced.9 Universal Credit has often been described as simplifying the benefit system. But these new delays suggest that the systems underpinning Universal Credit’s design are not adaptable to changes in policy or entitlement, raising questions about the promised flexibility of the new systems.10

Note also,

14.The Department expects people who are in work that earn less than the equivalent of 35 hours per week at the minimum wage to look to work or earn more. This “in-work conditionality” regime is still at a very early stage of development and the Department is undertaking a national trial to see what the best ways are of intervening. Approximately 40% of the current Universal Credit caseload are in work (approximately 112,000 claimants) and are moving into the trial.38 But longer term, the majority of households likely to fall within these requirements will be the 4.4 million families currently in receipt of tax credits, who are not used to such conditions being attached to their entitlement.39 These requirements may lead to families being ‘sanctioned’, or facing a financial penalty, if they cannot demonstrate that they have been looking to increase earnings during their assessment month. The Department stressed to us that the idea of this is to encourage people to work more hours and increase their earnings, not to be a system of punishment, but the Department must be sensitive to individual families’ circumstances (for example varying shift patterns and overtime requests) if the system is to prove effective. The Work and Pensions Select Committee has looked into this area in depth and we will also continue to take an interest in this area as plans develop and in work claimant numbers increase.40

If you have a strong stomach this is worth reading: from the Conclusions,

The Department has not updated its assessment of the expected benefits of Universal Credit in the light of policy and operational changes. The Department has now spent £1.16 billion on implementing Universal Credit, which has a caseload of around 280,000, compared to the over 6 million claimants expected in the long term. Despite having previously estimated that a six month delay to the programme could reduce net benefits to the taxpayer by £2.3 billion, the Department now maintains that the net benefits of the programme have not changed significantly from the £20 billion quoted in its 2015 outline business case. The Department rejected the recommendation we made in February 2016 that it should explain how the business case has changed following changes in policy to Universal Credit and other working age benefits, on the grounds that revising a business case takes four months. However the Department told us that it does have ready-reckoners and is able to model the effect of changes quickly, suggesting that it should have been able to accept our recommendation without causing disproportionate extra work.

Recommendation: We reiterate our previous recommendation that the Department should set out clearly the changes to the business case for Universal Credit since its outline business case in 2015. It should include a brief summary of the policy changes and, using its ready-reckoners, a clear explanation of the impact on the programme’s costs and benefits.

3.Systems underpinning Universal Credit are still underdeveloped and there are signs of pressure on staff. We welcome the fact that the Department has changed its mind and has now accepted our recommendations and those made by the previous Committee concerning the need for better contingency planning. But the Department still has a long way to go before systems will be ready to scale up Universal Credit significantly; we heard, for example, that only 25% of claims in the new full service are paid automatically. We also received written evidence that staff are concerned about the lack of training and the pressures of work preventing adequate testing and learning within the new service.

Recommendation: Before the speed at which Universal Credit is rolled out is increased, the Department should ensure that there are sufficient opportunities for staff to engage in testing and learning processes, and set out for the Committee what it has done to address staff concerns. The Department should write to the Committee to inform it of action taken by May 2017.

4.Universal Credit’s rigid monthly assessment period causes difficulties for claimants whose pay or rent are based on four-weekly periods. Claimants whose pay or rent cycle does not match the monthly assessment period used for Universal Credit may experience difficulties, such as a drop in payment without warning. Similar issues arise when people are paid early for Christmas. The Department’s only solution appears to be to try and persuade employers and landlords to change their pay and rent practices, rather than seeking to make its own systems more flexible. With the number of employees and landlords the former is unlikely to be feasible.

Recommendation:The Department should ensure that claimants whose pay or rent cycles do not align with Universal Credit assessment periods are made aware of this issue and the potential consequences, and are informed of what support is available should this be needed. The Department should also examine what it can do to adapt its systems to cater for these circumstances or provide more information about what it is doing to secure change with employers and landlords.

6.The Department for Work & Pensions’ understanding of the level and causes of fraud and error in Universal Credit and some other benefits is incomplete, potentially undermining efforts to reduce losses. While the Department expects Universal Credit to reduce fraud and error overpayments by £1 billion a year when it is fully rolled out, initial estimates indicate that the level is currently higher than the Jobseeker’s Allowance that it is replacing. The Department attribute this to the difficulty of developing a suitable methodology to measure fraud and error in Universal Credit, as the new benefit is designed to support both those in work as well as those out of work, and to cases where the Department was unable to contact claimants to verify the payment made. The Department does not regularly measure fraud and error across all its other benefits; for example, fraud and error in the payment of Carer’s Allowance has not been measured for 20 years.

Recommendation: The Department for Work & Pensions should: establish and agree with the National Audit Office a robust method for estimating Universal Credit fraud and error; and undertake regular risk assessments to improve its understanding of the causes of fraud and error in those benefits where it has not been measured for some time or at all.

Our conclusion: there are problems about

  • “In-work conditionality” is “at a very early stage of development”:  that is they have no clear idea of what the hell it means and what the rules are.
  • There are new opportunities for – sanctions and “financial penalties”.
  • The system is not yet ready to cope with all claims.
  • Both potential Fraud and Error are a greater problem now for those on Universal Credit (” initial estimates indicate that the level is currently higher than the Jobseeker’s Allowance..”)
  • Rent and Pay cycles are not aligned with Universal Credit so that, claimants may “experience difficulties, such as a drop in payment without warning.”

Ho, ho ho!

Written by Andrew Coates

November 6, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Tax Credit Company Concentrix, from Reign of Terror against Claimants, to Reign of Terror against Critics.

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Image result for concentrix

Band of Terrorising Thieves Not Going Quietly.

Concentrix, whose contract was opposed by PCS members, was very quickly notorious.

This week the story got into the national papers.

It’s not often that something like this comes up and you hear, the next day, about somebody in Ipswich in the thick of the problem.

Last night somebody I know told me about a friend directly affected.

It is, as people can imagine, somebody in a really desperate plight.

Welfare Weekly reports,

‘Reign of terror’ tax credit company loses HMRC contract.

Frank Field, the chair of parliament’s welfare committee, has said that a company’s “reign of terror” over British tax credit recipients will be drawing to a close after HMRC decided not to renew its contract.

US company Concentrix was accused of making a string of mistakes including stopping a teenage single mum from receiving tax credits after wrongly claiming she was married to a dead pensioner.

Field had called on the government to investigate and act on concerns about Concentrix’s handling of tax credit claims.

Following HMRC’s decision not to sign a new contract with the company, Field said: “Concentrix’s reign of terror is drawing to a close. Again the government has acted decisively in protecting vulnerable Britain. This holds out huge prospects and, for some exploiters, horror, in the near future.”

The company won a multimillion pound payment by results contract to prevent incorrect or fraudulent claims in a bid to save government money, earning more money the more claims it stopped.

Now you’d think this would be the end of it.

But this band of thieves are not going quietly,

Private welfare contractor Concentrix blocks BBC programme on Twitter after exposé (Independent).

A private contractor running part of the benefits system has blocked a flagship BBC television programme on Twitter after the show ran a story about its alleged failures.

Concentrix – which has been accused of stopping innocent people’s tax credits – was the subject of an investigation by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Tuesday morning.

HMRC on Tuesday night announced that it wouldn’t renew Concentrix’s contract in May 2017 after a string of failures allegedly left people out of pocket.

On Wednesday morning the Victoria Derbyshire programme’s twitter account wrote: “That’ll teach us. Concentrix have blocked us after our exclusive tax credits story.”

The programme posted a screenshot of the company’s page showing they were blocked.

A Concentrix spokesperson defended the company’s record and said it had saved taxpayers £300m in fraud and error throughout the course of its contract.

Perhaps this is a related story (Independent):

Failing’ welfare contractor Concentrix will still be paid tens of millions before its contract runs out

The firm is being dropped by HMRC but not until May 2017.

The private contractor dropped by HMRC from running part of the tax credit system will still be paid tens of millions of pounds before its contract runs out, new figures show.

HMRC’s chief executive Jon Thompson said on Tuesday night the department it would not be extending Concentrix’s contract after a series of high profile failures regarding the non-payment of tax credits.

The contractor is supposed to root out fraud and error in the tax credit system, but reports suggest innocent people on low incomes are having their payments stopped, sometimes for no reason at all.

Figures obtained by Labour MP Louise Haigh show that Concentrix is failing on 120 out of 1625 minimum performance indicators set out in the contract – yet has still already been paid £15.8m in commission.

With the contract only set to end in May 2017 the company will still reap tens of millions of pounds in payments from the three-year contract – despite a so-called “payment by results” system. The total contract pays a total of between £55m and £75m depending on performance indicators met

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 14, 2016 at 4:30 pm