The DWP is failing to protect claimants of legacy benefits, such as tax credits, from fraudsters who trick them into moving to universal credit without their knowledge and then steal a large part of their advance payment.
The BBC claims it has seen documents that show that fraud in relation to UC is happening on a massive scale and even the DWP have now admitted that a devastating 10% of all UC advance payments may be for fraudulent claims.
In many cases the fraudsters tell claimants that they can get them a government grant.
The claimant gives the fraudster all the details they request as well as proof of identity.
Unbeknown to the claimant, the fraudster then makes a claim for UC on their behalf and requests an advance payment.
The fraudster then takes a large chunk of the payment as their fee.
The claimant only finds out later that they have been moved to UC and that they have a large loan they must now repay as well as often being on a significantly lower income, because their UC is worth less than their legacy benefit.
According to messages on a private DWP board, fraudsters are mocking the DWP by making successful claims with ridiculous details, including:
Children named Ha, Ha and Ha;
Children named Lisa, Bart and Homer – of Simpsons fame;
Landlords called Harry Kane;
A 19 year old student with six blind children.
One DWP official claimed that in their region 200-300 claims a day are fictitious, with £1,200 to £1,500 in advance payments for each claim.
Such an enormous level of fraud, which the DWP has known about and covered up for many months, is yet more evidence that the DWP is now a failed government department.
Benefits and Work is also concerned that the DWP are, it seems, recovering loans and keeping claimants on UC when the claimant had no knowledge that a claim for that benefit had been made. It is highly questionable whether a claim made without the claimants knowledge is in any way valid. We hope that affected claimants are able to get legal advice about what action they may be able to take to recover lost income and return to their legacy benefits.