Blackburn pilots benefit fraud campaign

First published in News This Is Lancashire: Photograph of the Author by , Local government reporter

A TWO-PRONGED campaign against benefit error and fraud was launched in Blackburn with Darwen yesterday.

The six-week drive will use adverts, posters, social media and letters to warn claimants they must disclose changes in their circumstances promptly to the Department of Work and Pensions.

Failure to do so could lead to overpayments, arrears, prosecution and loss of their benefits.

It is one of six pilot schemes across the country that could be rolled out nationally if successful.

It is aimed at cutting the £1.6billion-a-year cost of overpayments nationally, which has scarcely altered in the past five years and was higher last year than the £1.2billion cost of deliberate benefit fraud.

The six areas - including Southwark, and Hounslow in London, Blackpool, Epping Forest and Cardiff - cover a wide range of populations with varying levels of benefit fraud and error.

Claimants are warned they could face a fine of up to £2,000 for not disclosing a job or if they have moved in with a partner.

The local posters include a satellite photo of the borough and are backed up with, newspaper adverts, Facebook adverts and letters to claimants.

Residents are also urged to report suspected benefit fraud or changes to their circumstances to the DWP using website addresses or phone numbers included in the publicity.

Blackburn Labour MP Jack Straw and his Darwen Tory counterpart Jake Berry both welcomed the move.

Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said: "We are keen to make sure that claimants know that even small overpayments can really add up over time, so they must get in contact with us and let us know about changes in circumstances straight away.

"The new pilot campaign will help us stop fraud and overpayments before they even happen."

Mr Berry said: “Many constituents come to see me because they have got into a mess with their benefit payments. This is a good opportunity to help them avoid running up large arrears and facing penalties because of it.”

Mr Straw said: “This is a sensible move. Benefits are aimed at those who need them and people should not rip off the taxpayer.

“This should help genuine claimants make sure they are getting the right benefit payments.”

Comments (6)

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6:02pm Sat 4 Jan 14

blackburnwithdarwen says...

How about piloting a scheme that asks why we have a safe seat MP in Blackburn?

Safe Seat Politician: Someone who has benefited by being able to have made a very successful career due only because of Blackburn’s voting past.

Benefit Fraud / Political Fraud - What is the difference?
How about piloting a scheme that asks why we have a safe seat MP in Blackburn? Safe Seat Politician: Someone who has benefited by being able to have made a very successful career due only because of Blackburn’s voting past. Benefit Fraud / Political Fraud - What is the difference? blackburnwithdarwen
  • Score: 9

6:34pm Sat 4 Jan 14

happycyclist says...

And all the under-payments? -the benefits that people are entitled to that they don't know about... please can we have those figures, too?
And all the under-payments? -the benefits that people are entitled to that they don't know about... please can we have those figures, too? happycyclist
  • Score: 9

3:59am Sun 5 Jan 14

Timefor says...

Well reported that one of the major reason for the explosion in the use of foodbanks is because people's benefits haven't been paid and they cant afford to buy food. Wonder if they'll care to post these figures?

Similarly, aren't they the ones who promised an increase in jobs by cutting taxes for the rich? Wonder if they've yet realised that this has never worked or considered that they could be said to be guilty of fraud as are those taking the tax cuts?

Seems to me that the best way to cut benefit fraud is to cut the numbers claiming benefits by creating proper, sustainable decent jobs.
Well reported that one of the major reason for the explosion in the use of foodbanks is because people's benefits haven't been paid and they cant afford to buy food. Wonder if they'll care to post these figures? Similarly, aren't they the ones who promised an increase in jobs by cutting taxes for the rich? Wonder if they've yet realised that this has never worked or considered that they could be said to be guilty of fraud as are those taking the tax cuts? Seems to me that the best way to cut benefit fraud is to cut the numbers claiming benefits by creating proper, sustainable decent jobs. Timefor
  • Score: 6

12:51pm Sun 5 Jan 14

elmo maniac says...

Getting regular check ups on whos claiming and what as a lot are claiming they cant walk yet go the gym on a regular basis. If people can get away with it they will. Its a joke as the ones who depend on the money coming in arent entitled to anything!!
Getting regular check ups on whos claiming and what as a lot are claiming they cant walk yet go the gym on a regular basis. If people can get away with it they will. Its a joke as the ones who depend on the money coming in arent entitled to anything!! elmo maniac
  • Score: 1

2:37am Mon 6 Jan 14

olbertz2002 says...

They should check on the people who say they have illnesses or classed as disabled when they are not to scam the system in any way they can. Give the obese people a full examination so they cannot say that they are too big etc to work when they are quite capable to get a sit down job or any other easy job. Also stop the falsly claimants of incapacity benefit claiming and help them in getting a job under the disability act 2010, if the people who sadly lost their jobs at remploy can work then I am sure these that are claiming incapacity can get a job in the same way.
They should check on the people who say they have illnesses or classed as disabled when they are not to scam the system in any way they can. Give the obese people a full examination so they cannot say that they are too big etc to work when they are quite capable to get a sit down job or any other easy job. Also stop the falsly claimants of incapacity benefit claiming and help them in getting a job under the disability act 2010, if the people who sadly lost their jobs at remploy can work then I am sure these that are claiming incapacity can get a job in the same way. olbertz2002
  • Score: 2

5:15am Mon 6 Jan 14

louderfasterlonger says...

happycyclist wrote:
And all the under-payments? -the benefits that people are entitled to that they don't know about... please can we have those figures, too?
Underpayment due to claiment error £0.9bh. Due to official error £0.5bn. Kind of ballances really. Fraud is 0.7% of total expenditure and this is more of a political move. The people who Jake mentions are not fraudsters so i fail to see the relevence of his comment.
[quote][p][bold]happycyclist[/bold] wrote: And all the under-payments? -the benefits that people are entitled to that they don't know about... please can we have those figures, too?[/p][/quote]Underpayment due to claiment error £0.9bh. Due to official error £0.5bn. Kind of ballances really. Fraud is 0.7% of total expenditure and this is more of a political move. The people who Jake mentions are not fraudsters so i fail to see the relevence of his comment. louderfasterlonger
  • Score: 0

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