The Department for Work and Pensions is aiming to increase the range of data it draws in to combat fraud
It is also planning a number of “IT fixes” to makes its systems more easily navigable, and setting up an integrated risk and intelligence unit. The measures are outlined as a part of a wider package in a document, Tackling fraud and error in the benefit and tax credits systems, jointly published by the department and the Treasury earlier this month.
One of the key steps outlined is to improve the DWP’s data matching capability through acquiring a much wider range of data on customers, and employing private sector companies to use new fraud prevention techniques.
It says this could potentially be supported by a real time information system to assess claimants’ earnings at the point of claim, although it does not make a firm commitment to the development.
The DWP already has a Generalised Matching Service and a Housing Benefit Data Matching Service to identify inconsistencies and, when necessary, make referrals to the Fraud Investigation Service and Customer Compliance.
The data matching capability will be supported by a new integrated risk and intelligence unit, which will act as a hub for data and intelligence on fraud, error and debt. “It will use the very best data matching techniques drawing on private sector best practice, and have at its disposal high quality analysts using intelligence acquired to target high risk cases,” the report says.
Another measure will be a series of IT fixes to help staff navigate and operate systems more effectively. A DWP spokesperson said it is not yet possible to provide any detail on these.
The department is planning to run a system of accreditation for staff attaining a standard of accuracy in processing data. It says this will help it identify those who need the more training.
There are also plans to set up an error reduction centre at which 1,200 staff will work on cleaning the data on almost 1m cases each year.
Writing in the foreword of the report, the minister for welfare reform Lord Freud and exchequer secretary to the Treasury David Gauke say the complete package of proposals will cost £425m but produce £1.4bn in savings by 2014-15, and more into the future.