UK decides to crack whip on benefit cheats residing abroad

Benefits Clampdown

Benefits Clampdown

The UK government has decided to initiate proceeding against people claiming benefits but living abroad.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have approached those countries where maximum number of cases occurs. Statistics show that largest number of frauds were recorded by people living in Spain, Pakistan, the US and Bangladesh.

Most common type of scam involves people not declaring they have moved abroad or filing claims for relatives who have died.

Other types involves working while abroad, overstating disabilities or holding unreported assets such as  property, cash or movable assets like yachts etc.

The government fraud investigators work with overseas authorities such as land registry offices, foreign consulates and British banks.

According to data available, ‘Abroad fraud’ cost the government £66 million in 2009, said Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud. As more people choose to live abroad, the fraud rate also increases accordingly. “We are on an uphill curve”, he said.

The money “should be going to the people who need it most and not lining the pockets of criminals sunning themselves overseas”, he said, coming down heavily on false claimants. Frauds committed this way was “corrosive to the benefits system”, added Lord Freud.

Arguing that the DWP was the biggest department of the state, he said: “If people feel this money is not being spent properly it undermines the whole rationale for the welfare state”.

To track false claimants, the government recently launched a telephone hotline in Portugal, in addition to an existing line in Spain.

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