Credit checking agency staff are to be used as what Whitehall officials refer to as ‘​bounty hunters’​ to go through claimants financial details, searching for fraudulent claims.

Both the DWP and Her Majesty’​s Revenue and Customs, who administer tax credits, will be working with credit reference agency Experian to identify benefit fraud. They will be targeting people claiming as single but who have partners living at the same address and claimants who have failed to declare their full income.

The story has been taken up by a number of news outlets, including the Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph article refers to a number of cases where it claims fraud was identified involving large amounts of benefit.

The paper incorrectly reports £​5.2 billion a year as having been lost to fraudulent benefit claims.This figure actually includes £​3.7 billion lost as a result of administrative error on the part of the Department for Work &​ Pensions (DWP). The figure for fraud is therefore much smaller than reported. Full Fact intend to request the Daily Telegraph issue a correction but the damage has already been done to the image of claimants, something which the Telegraph either knows or cares little about.

The Telegraph also fails to address the cost to the taxpayer of the government’​s contract with Experian.


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