Politics: Social Security: Fraud and errors cost pounds 1bn a year

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THE GOVERNMENT is losing nearly pounds 1bn a year through fraud and errors by claimants of income support and jobseekers' allowance, official figures showed yesterday.

The Government Statistical Service calculated that pounds 504m in income support and pounds 258m in jobseekers' allowance was being claimed fraudulently. Errors by claimants accounted for a further pounds 136m in income support and pounds 23m in jobseekers' allowance being paid incorrectly, including pounds 110m in wrongful claims by pensioners, mostly due to undeclared savings.

Alistair Darling, the Secretary of State for Social Security, stressed the need for tighter security in National Insurance numbers and gateways to benefits to combat fraud. "We are determined to get benefit right from the start and keep it right so we can cut down on fraud and eliminate error," he said.

The figures are the first to be issued under a new system of calculating mispayments ad-opted by the statistical service and are based on the six months ending last February.