“We will track you down
“We will find you
“And we will bring you to justice”
That was the message to fraudulent PIP, DLA and ESA claimants delivered in a DWP video by a stab-vest clad DWP minister for disabled people and filmed before a backdrop of handcuffed suspects, wailing sirens and smashed-in doors.
What Tom Pursglove didn’t add was:
“We won’t answer the phone.
“We won’t do your assessment.
“And we will ignore the law whenever we want.”
But this video wasn’t about telling the truth, it was about instilling fear, distracting from failure and looking tough in a DWP branded vest.
The clip is certainly attracting attention, though. It has been viewed over six million times already.
The video features the arrest of suspects accused of defrauding the taxpayer of £800,000 over a period of four years. They allegedly used fake power of attorney applications, plus assorted bogus medical records, to apply for PIP, DLA and ESA.
We welcome the pursuit and arrest of people who deliberately defraud the system in this way.
But, in reality, organised fraud in relation to disability benefits is extremely rare.
Most organised benefits fraud is in connection with universal credit and housing benefit and, even then, it represents only a very small proportion of the benefits bill.
Much smaller than the level of PPE and covid loan fraud, for example, which doesn’t seem to give rise to similar, hard-as-nails minister films.
We can only agree with what the charity Z2K said of this video:
“We look forward to the video about the 80% of PIP appeals that DWP loses or concedes. It denies far more people their legal entitlements than it loses to fraud.
No wonder disabled people have no trust in the Department.”
UPDATE: The DWP deleted their original tweet containing this video. The original text featured the quote at the top of this article, followed by the claim that 'At the DWP we have a very particular set of skills that we use in conjunction with the police to tackle fraud'. This has now been replaced by text which says 'We won't tolerate the theft of support and targeting of the vulnerable.' You can view the new tweet and video here.