U.K. Cracks Down on Benefits, Tax Fraud
The United Kingdom government says it has saved more than 400 million pounds (US$487 million) for the public purse by utilizing data-matching software as it cracks down on benefits and tax fraud.
That savings is enough to fund healthcare for 129,000 people in England for a year, the Cabinet Office said Monday, citing the report of its National Fraud Initiative.
The government claims that the cutting-edge data technology helps identify firms and individuals attempting to steal public funds.
“The latest figures show around 42,000 fraudulent disabled blue badges were being used,” the statement read. Investigators have also been able to block “more than 225,000 cases where discounted travel cards of people who had died, or didn’t qualify for concessions.”
About 7,000 ineligible people were removed from social housing waiting lists in 102 municipalities, freeing up affordable housing for those in need.
“British people work hard for every penny and they rightly expect the government to put everything they’ve got into protecting taxpayers’ money,” according to Minister for the Cabinet Office Jeremy Quin.
He went on to say that “money stolen from the government through fraud is theft from every taxpayer.”
Since its inception in 1996, the National Fraud Initiative, which helps organizations to analyze data and match records to identify which people or firms are defrauding the government, has found and recovered around 2.4 billion pounds ($2.93 billion).
The fraud crackdown report comes nearly a month after Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury, announced in the Autumn Statement – a document that provides an update on the government's economic plans – that the U.K. will put aside millions of pounds to combat fraud.
According to the statement, the government plans to invest 79 million pounds ($96.55 million) to tackle tax fraud.
It proposes granting the U.K. Revenue and Customs 48 million pounds ($58.63 million) to reinforce its response to serious fraud and 31 million pounds ($37.89 million) to increase its capacity to deal with complex tax risks involving wealthy taxpayers. These investments are estimated to raise 725 million pounds ($886.29 million) over the next five years.
An additional 280 million pounds ($342.35 million) will be granted to the Department for Work and Pensions to tackle fraud and error across the benefits system, which is expected to assist in saving 410 million pounds ($501.3 million) over the next two years and 2.2 billion pounds ($2.68 billion) per year by 2027/28, according to the statement.