The aim of the campaign was to encourage the public to call the hotline if they suspect benefit fraud, and to urge claimants to report changes in their circumstances.
The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) benefit fraud hotline in Spain – 900 55 44 40 – has seen a surge in vital tip-offs that fraud investigators are now pursuing to verify if people are claiming benefits illegally.
Awareness of the campaign and associated media coverage among expatriates in Spain, and their willingness to call the hotline, is helping investigators to reduce the waste of honest taxpayers’ money on fraudsters.
Work and Pensions Minister Mark Harper said:
Hard working taxpayers have had enough of fraudsters taking money which is meant for genuine claimants, which is why we’re seeing so many people taking action by calling the hotline. We know it’s a small minority who commit benefit fraud but I would urge anyone who has suspicions to call the free and confidential number or report them anonymously online.
Worldwide, someone is reported to benefit fraud hotlines every minute of every working day on average, and in the last year alone nearly 60,000 fraud investigations have been launched.
The Government has recovered nearly one billion pounds of wrongly paid benefits in the last year, and has introduced a raft of measures to crack down on people who cheat the system - both abroad and in the UK – including:
- Tough new rules so that 40% of individuals’ benefits can be taken to repay stolen cash - on top of any fine or custodial sentence handed out by the courts;
- Increased penalties from £2,000 to £5,000, without taking a fraudster to court;
- A new £50 civil penalty for claimants who negligently give incorrect information on their claims or fail to report a change in circumstances which results in overpayments.
If you suspect a benefit cheat, call the confidential hotline on 900 55 44 40 - open from 8am to 4pm every weekday in Spain - or report them online.