Increase of in-work benefit claimants linked to benefit overpayments
- 22 Oct
The spending watchdog has found that an increase in the number of claimants in work is due to an increase in overpayments of housing benefits.
A report by the National Audit Office has found that the rate in error of housing benefit has gone up by 4.4% in 2013/14 from 3.8% in 2012/13, reports Inside Housing.
The report states that this is mainly due to claimants failing to inform councils or give details of their changes in income, although there is no fraudulent intent.
"The main source of claimant error comes from unreported fluctuations in earnings," says the reportHousing Benefit Fraud and Error.
"Changes in earnings are the main source of claimant error. The department [for Work and Pensions] estimates that claims from people in-work are 5 times more likely to include overpayments than claims from other working age people."
Errors due to work-age claimant error accounted for £349 million - equivalent to 1.5% of total housing benefit spending - in 2013-14, the Department for Work and Pensions [DWP] estimated.
"A possible contributing factor is changes caused by trends in the labour market and the increase in the number of ‘in-work' claimants since 2008-09," the NAO report suggests.
"Factors such as rising self-employment and the use of zero-hours contracts may have contributed to claimant error and made it more difficult for local authorities to administer claims."
The report also analyses changes in housing benefit fraud, where a claimant deliberately misrepresents their circumstances to claim housing benefit. But the report found the level of housing benefit fraud has not changed significantly since 2006/7.
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