The National Audit Office has qualified the DWP accounts, yet again, because of the levels of ‘fraud and error’. I put that phrase in inverted commas because the DWP has always presented them as a package; it’s not really about fraud. The breakdowns usually attribute most of the over- and under-payments to error.
(This graph may look blurred in some browsers; double-clicking or tapping on it should make it easier to read.)
The basic message from the graph is that some criteria are harder to manage that others. People get questions about income wrong, in both directions, and capital doesn’t necessarily get declared. In a nutshell, many of the problems are simply and directly attributable to means-testing. Living arrangements cause problems, too. By contrast, the sort of thing that doesn’t much appear is contributory entitlement. The essential problems stem from asking questions that suppose we can find out how people live and respond to their individual circumstances, rather than simply stating – as we do with state pensions – whether or not people are entitled.