Magazine article Public Finance

DWP Fraud Hotline Costs Soar but Fewer Calls Are Answered

Magazine article Public Finance

DWP Fraud Hotline Costs Soar but Fewer Calls Are Answered

Article excerpt

The cost of running the Department for Work and Pensions' benefit fraud hotline has risen by 25% over the past year, yet staff answered fewer I calls and prosecuted only a handful of criminals following tip-offs.

'The new secretary of state [John Hutton] must explain why performance is plummeting when costs are soaring,' Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman David Laws said.

Operating costs for the hotline, which was set up in 1996 so that members of the public could help to catch benefit fraudsters, increased from £957,977 in 20O3/04 to £1,192,843 in 2004/05, according to benefits minister James Plaskitt.

A spokeswoman for the DWP told Public Finance that cost increases could be attributed to the employment of more staff and the fact that the department was now helping to fund local, as well as national, anti-fraud hotlines. …

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