Archive for June 1st, 2010

Fraud and Error in the Benefit System: October 2008 to September 2009

For 2009/10, it is estimated that 2.1 per cent, or £3.1bn, of total benefit expenditure was overpaid due to fraud and error.
The estimated percentage of benefit expenditure overpaid has decreased from 2.2 per cent to 2.1 per cent. In value terms, however, due to the increase in benefit expenditure overpayments have risen from £3.0bn to a staggering £3.1bn,

For 2009/10, it is estimated that 0.9 per cent, or £1.3bn, of total benefit expenditure was underpaid due to fraud and error.

In value terms, however, underpayments have risen from £1.2bn to £1.3bn, due to the growth in benefit expenditure.

  • Income Support/Jobseeker’s Allowance benefit overpayment is 5.5% in October 2008 – September 2009 The same level as April 2008 to March 2009. However, the value of overpayments has risen from £640m to £700m, due to the forecast increase in benefit expenditure.
  • Housing Benefit expenditure overpayment fell from 4.9% in April 2008 to March 2009 to 4.4% in October 2008 to September 2009. The value has decreased from £840m to £820m.
  • Pension Credit benefit overpayment has decreased from 5.1% in April 2008 to March 2009 to 4.4% in October 2008 to September 2009, and from £390m down to £350m.
  • Incapacity Benefit expenditure overpayment has decreased from 3.4% in April 2008 to March 2009 to 3.3% in October 2008 to September 2009, and from £220m down to £210m.

YOU DO THE MATHS …. seems to me that there are lots of savings that could be made quite easily

Full report…



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Personalisation and the Coalition

Personalisation should be central to the new coalition’s agenda; it is a civil society strategy which brings efficiencies and improved outcomes, while strengthening citizens, families and communities. But its fate is far from certain, and for good reason.

Anybody looking at the previous government’s record on personalisation would be asking themselves why:

  • Something that should save money has cost over £1 billion extra?
  • Something that should simplify things has led to more complexity?
  • Something that was meant to make things easier for the most vulnerable has often made things more difficult?

I would not be surprised if the new government scrapped the whole of the current top-down initiative. Like many good ideas before the central challenge remains: implementation, implementation and implementation.

The previous government’s implementation of personalisation was flawed from its inception in 2005. The government sought to control a policy it didn’t fully understand and which it has never fully thought through. Hence they spent money, issued targets, recruited consultants, published guidance and generally tried to ‘take charge’. None of these measures have been effective or coherent.

There is a role for central government, not as an agent of implementation, but instead focusing on:

  • Integrating the diverse personalisation initiatives across Whitehall
  • Reform of the legislation that underpins public services
  • Merging the funding streams that issue out of Whitehall
  • Agreeing a clear role for local government
  • Connecting individual budgets to the tax-benefit system
  • Defining the fundamental rights that families and citizens can expect

It will be interesting to see the new government’s reaction to personalisation. The better part of the coalition should like it – it is liberal, but it is rooted in social justice and it strengthens civil society. But, in harsh economic times anyone looking at what has been achieved so far may see something that needs ‘cutting’.

Of course this will not be the end of personalisation. Personalisation was not invented by government and it has grown and developed, in real communities, led by disabled people and those at the front-line of public services, with minimal government support. Those of us who are working to shift power and control back to citizens will still find allies and opportunities to build a better world. Hopefully this government will listen more closely, think more deeply and act more strategically. If it does, personalisation could genuinely lead to the reform of the welfare state.

Simon Duffy

Director of The Centre for Welfare Reform www.centreforwelfarereform.org

Simon created Individual Budgets and Self-Directed Support and in 2008 was given the RSA’s Prince Albert Medal for his work on personalisation.

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