The Department of Work and Pensions has just published updated estimates of its losses to fraud and error in benefit payments. The headlines are:
- £2.6bn total estimated losses in 2005-06 - 2.2% of the roughly £120bn pa paid out
- 61% of the losses come from 27% of the benefits- the main culprits are Housing Benefit, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, and Pension Credit
- £770m lost in Housing Benefit - at 5.5% of total HB payments, this is the worst record of any benefit, and among those of working age it's running at 6.9%
- Most of the problems are with working age benefits: losses on state pension payments are reckoned to be running at only 0.1%, and on pensioners Housing Benefit at "only" 2.7%; against that, losses on Gordo's notorious Pension Credit are running at 4.1% (= £270m pa)
Even at £2.6bn the loss figure is almost certainly wildly understated. Many of the benefits are not subject to regular monitoring, and the estimated 1.7% loss on £6.6bn of Incapacity Benefit spending takes no account of the wholesale lead-swinging we are all so familiar with.
No wonder the DWP's accounts have been qualified 17 years in succession.