Tuesday, March 01, 2016

A poor way to detect benefit fraud

Like most welfare systems, the UK encourages the public to provide tip-offs about benefit fraud. But it turns out that more than 85% of these "tip-offs" are false:

More than 85% of fraud allegations made by the public over the last five years were false, according to figures obtained by the Observer.

A freedom of information request to the Department for Work and Pensions discloses that between 2010 and 2015 the government closed 1,041,219 alleged cases of benefit fraud put forward by the public. Insufficient or no evidence of fraud was discovered in 887,468 of these. In 2015 alone, of the 153,038 cases closed by the DWP’s Fraud and Error Service, 132,772 led to no action.

People can use an online form on the DWP website to anonymously report suspects, listing their eye colour, piercings, scars, tattoos and other details they deem relevant. Suspicions can also be logged through the DWP benefit fraud hotline.

So what about New Zealand? WINZ also encourages the public to make anonymous allegations, but while they publish statistics on data-matching and prosecutions, there's nothing on the success rate of allegations from the public. I wonder why?