New benefits fraud squads will arrest and fine even more welfare cheats, Rishi reveals in crackdown plan

BENEFIT fraudsters will be targeted in a major crackdown with fines issued as part of a major welfare overhaul, Rishi Sunak says.

The Prime Minister said anyone abusing taxpayers’ cash will be treated as sternly as those who commit tax fraud by giving new powers to investigators in the Welfare department.

RISHI Sunak takes aim today at the "sick note culture" in an overhaul of the welfare system


RISHI Sunak takes aim today at the “sick note culture” in an overhaul of the welfare systemCredit: Sky News

New powers will mean searches, seizures and arrests can take place and civil penalties can be handed out to more offenders.

It will mean third parties will be able to give information to analysts as part of any investigation into fraud.

The shake-up is one of the ‘most important’ changes to benefit fraud laws in two decades and is likely to save taxpayers £600 million within four years.

New measures will be brought in to stop people “gaming the system” as he outlines how Artificial Intelligence could be used to monitor payments.

He introduced the measure as part of a speech to end the “sick note culture” as he attempts to get more Brits working.

The PM will introduce new anti-fraud legislation which will expand the Welfare Department’s remit giving the same investigatory powers as the tax inspectors at HMRC.

He said: “We are preparing a new fraud Bill for the next parliament, which will align DWP with HMRC, so that we treat benefit fraud like tax fraud, with new powers to make seizures and arrest, and we’ll also enable penalties to be applied to a wider set of fraudsters through a new civil penalty.

“Because when people see others in their community gaming the system that their taxes pay, it erodes support for the very principle of the welfare state.”

He said: “We can’t allow fraudsters to exploit the natural compassion and generosity of the British people.”

Mr Sunak’s intervention comes just days after it was announced that a record 2.8 million people have been recorded as long-term sick.

The PM used the speech to end the “sick note culture” and plans a shift away from already stretched GPs from issuing Fit Notes.

But Sir Keir Starmer said the government should focus on reducing the NHS waiting list to get people back to work.

He said: “Labour has for a long time been urging measures to be taken to deal with the problem of people getting back into work because it is inhibiting their ability to work, it is also restraining us in terms of what we can do with the economy.

“That is why we have had a laser focus on how we get waiting lists down, because the biggest problem here frankly is that the Government has broken the NHS, and waiting lists are up at 7.6 million.

“That is where the focus needs to be. This announcement morning from the Government is a reheated version of something they announced seven years ago.

“It is no good talking about the problem, what we need is action to make the issues actually be dealt with.”


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