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Tax avoidance and official errors dwarf benefit fraud, say Campaigners

10 Aug 2010

The Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform (SCoWR) has hit out at the Prime Minister’s plans to clampdown on “benefit fraudsters”.

Citizen’s Advice Scotland’s Matt Lancashire speaking on the behalf of SCoWR said:

“The figures thrown around by the Prime Minister today just don’t add up. The official DWP figure for benefit fraud is £1.1bn which represents less than 1% of all benefit claims. The remaining £4.1bn is made up by DWP/HMRC errors. This is supported by the evidence seen everyday in Citizen Advice Bureaux across Scotland. Errors such as underpayments, overpayments, poor administration and bureaucracy caused by the DWP/HMRC are common. We support the government’s aim of cutting waste, but they must target the right problems, and not see this as an excuse to further hit those who are genuinely vulnerable.” 

Maggie Kelly, of the Scottish Poverty Alliance speaking on behalf of SCoWR added:

“SCoWR believe that it is about time that David Cameron’s started to focus on the huge amount of money lost through DWP mistakes and the £40bn a year lost in high level tax avoidance and evasion. The amount lost through benefit fraud is tiny in comparison.”

For more information, interviews etc contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010.

SCoWR is a coalition of 40 or so Scottish charities who are working to monitor the government’s welfare reform agenda and make sure it does not become an excuse to target the genuinely vulnerable people of Scotland. Its membership includes CAS, the Poverty Alliance, the Child Poverty Action Group and Oxfam Scotland. Full list available on request.