An innovative project which is expected to deliver £114 million of savings for the taxpayer, while tackling the scourge of benefit fraud, has won a top award at a prestigious ceremony.
The project matches details of claimants receiving benefits against real-time data from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to identify fraud and error relating to earnings and pensions.
The system is able to target, quickly and efficiently, benefit fraudsters who are not declaring their full income. Previously, data would only have been available at the end of the tax year.
Last night it triumphed in the Prevention category of the annual Fighting Fraud Awards.
DWP Minister Mark Harper said:
I am very proud of all the DWP staff whose hard work has been highlighted by these awards. Their efforts are saving millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
Thanks to the continued commitment of our staff, we are stepping up the fight against fraud and showing benefit cheats that the law will catch up with them.
Delivery of the project required the development of complex IT and business processes to match more than 8 million records and identify 300,000 cases for investigation.
The team are now looking forward to improving and refining the scheme even further for 2015/16.
Lesley Gordon, a senior member of the team responsible for the project said:
This work has demonstrated the significant benefits of cross departmental data sharing for the purposes of reducing losses due to fraud and error. Colleagues at all levels have worked well together to successfully deliver this initiative and we are proud of its success.
The team were joined at the awards by the department’s Fraud and Error Services Central Criminal Investigation Service as well as David Gough, a Local Service Investigations Officer in south Wales.
The Central Criminal Investigation Service were honoured in the Collaboration category for their contribution to tackling human trafficking. Meanwhile, Mr Gough was recognised in the Innovation section for his pursuit of ‘cash-in-hand’ entertainers in south Wales, saving the taxpayer £166,362 in legal penalties alone.
In their third year, the Fighting Fraud awards recognise the efforts of those individuals and bodies within the public sector who have done most to combat and prevent fraud. The winners were announced at an evening ceremony in London on 10 February.
Every year in the UK, fraud costs public services an estimated £31 billion. Right across the public sector the fight against fraud has been re-energised and refocused. More and more public bodies are undertaking innovative pilots and initiatives, many of which are saving considerable sums of taxpayers’ money.
Read more about the Fighting Fraud awards at: www.fightingfraudawards.co.uk
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