No currency for benefit fraud

August 16, 2010, 4:46 PM GMT+0

Three fifths (60%) of the British public support Prime Minister David Cameron’s suggestion that the Government may employ outside companies to look for benefit cheats, and more than half (52%) would report someone they knew to be fraudulently claiming benefits to the authorities, a survey has found.

David Cameron announced this week that the Government is considering employing private companies to analyse benefit records, by which companies would be paid according to how many fraudulent benefit claimants they identify. One such firm, Experian, has confirmed that they are already in talks. This comes following Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith (pictured) announced radical benefits system reforms late last month.

Unsurprisingly, support fell largely along party political lines, with double the amount of Conservatives (80%) supporting the plans than Labour voters (40%).

The proposal is part of the Coalition’s drive to cut the deficit by cutting unnecessary benefit spending. It is estimated that between 2008 and 2009, the Department for Work and Pensions spent £5.2 billion on benefits given in error. Of this, it is expected that £1 billion was spent on fraudulent claims.

And while the Government is yet to announce any proposals to tackle tax evasion, 60% of the public believe that it is ‘just as bad’ as benefit fraud. With the majority condemning benefit cheats and welcoming the Prime Minister’s plans, our results suggest that many may be losing patience with the benefits system and will largely welcome plans designed to tackle its perceived inefficiencies.

Survey details and full results