Press release

Recovery of overpaid benefits hits record high of £1 billion

A record £1 billion in overpaid benefits through fraud and error was recovered in 2015/16, latest figures show.


Overall fraud and error is lower than it was in 2010 at 1.9% compared to 2.1% and overpayments due to official error and claimant error have hit a record low of just 0.3% and 0.5% respectively.

Dedicated investigators work hard to pursue and prosecute those who try to defraud the system. Last year alone, around 5,000 people were prosecuted for benefit fraud, with a further 6,000 administrative penalties handed down.

Minister for Welfare Reform, David Freud said:

We will not tolerate fraud and will pursue those who try to cheat the system.

We have strengthened penalties and powers to combat fraud and error in the benefit system and are introducing reforms, such as Universal Credit, which will reduce fraud and error and is expected to save £1 billion when fully rolled out.

Many deserving people rely on benefits when hard times hit, so it’s vital we stop those who try to divert funds away from them and maintain a system that is fair to those who use it and those who pay for it.

To strengthen the fight against fraud and error in the benefit system, since 2010, the government has:

  • unified the Fraud and Error Service, bringing together local authorities, HM Revenue & Customs, and the Department for Work and Pensions to prosecute fraudsters across the benefit system
  • toughened measures to deter fraudsters, including increasing loss of benefit penalties and financial penalties up to a maximum of £5,000
  • matched data from the Real Time Information system to detect undeclared earnings or income and correct or adjust a person’s benefits
  • introduced Universal Credit which is simplifying the system, replacing 6 existing benefits

Read the latest statistics – Fraud and error in the benefit system

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Published 8 December 2016