Your thoughts?


K

Kamina

Should the investigation of Housing and Council Tax benefit remain
within Local Government or should it be included in the remit of the
Department of Works and Pension's investigation teams?

Also, given that the total amount of benefit fraud across the whole
spectrum is £2 billion[approx] but VAT fraud is £11 billion [ approx,
2003 figures] are resources being correctly used to investigate the
right offence?
 
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M

Martin Davies

Kamina said:
Should the investigation of Housing and Council Tax benefit remain
within Local Government or should it be included in the remit of the
Department of Works and Pension's investigation teams?

Also, given that the total amount of benefit fraud across the whole
spectrum is £2 billion[approx] but VAT fraud is £11 billion [ approx,
2003 figures] are resources being correctly used to investigate the
right offence?
Well, both are offences and both can be reduced or recouped somewhat by
having good investigative departments.
Each are in different departments - but each will be different sort of
offences. The guy on benefit fiddling £200 a week has different
circumstances to investigate than someone fiddling the company books.

As for housing and council tax benefit - I'd say that should remain with
local government. Just my opinion - though information is shared somewhat
between them and DWP anyway.

Martin <><
 
M

Mike

Kamina said:
Should the investigation of Housing and Council Tax benefit remain
within Local Government or should it be included in the remit of the
Department of Works and Pension's investigation teams?
As HB and DWP benefits fraud often go hand in hand & cross council
borders it makes sense to centralise it.
Also, given that the total amount of benefit fraud across the whole
spectrum is £2 billion[approx] but VAT fraud is £11 billion [ approx,
2003 figures] are resources being correctly used to investigate the
right offence?

Before I can really answer that you have to provide figures for the
amount of money being spent on each type of investigation and their
relative success or are you suggesting that until VAT fraud is
eliminated or at least reduced to below £2bn the DWP should forget about
benefits fraud?

Mike
 
C

Clive Martin

In message said:
Should the investigation of Housing and Council Tax benefit remain
within Local Government or should it be included in the remit of the
Department of Works and Pension's investigation teams?
I suppose the answer to that would depend whether you think the DWP or
LAs would do a better job and, indeed, whether you would want them to.
Also, given that the total amount of benefit fraud across the whole
spectrum is £2 billion[approx] but VAT fraud is £11 billion [ approx,
2003 figures] are resources being correctly used to investigate the
right offence?
Ah, you do understand the point. Almost all discussion about benefit
fraud is in fact a discussion about political prejudice. Of course the
effort put into stopping other forms of fraud is disproportionately
small and that put into benefit fraud is disproportionately large. It
is one of the many prices people are asked to pay for having any form of
state benefits system at all. We have moved from collectivist solutions
and social insurance to "welfare". "Welfare" seems to require the
recipients to be regularly beaten with sticks...

Clive
 
M

Martin Davies

Clive said:
In message said:
Should the investigation of Housing and Council Tax benefit remain
within Local Government or should it be included in the remit of the
Department of Works and Pension's investigation teams?
I suppose the answer to that would depend whether you think the DWP or
LAs would do a better job and, indeed, whether you would want them to.
Also, given that the total amount of benefit fraud across the whole
spectrum is £2 billion[approx] but VAT fraud is £11 billion [ approx,
2003 figures] are resources being correctly used to investigate the
right offence?
Ah, you do understand the point. Almost all discussion about benefit
fraud is in fact a discussion about political prejudice. Of course
the effort put into stopping other forms of fraud is
disproportionately small and that put into benefit fraud is
disproportionately large. It is one of the many prices people are
asked to pay for having any form of state benefits system at all. We
have moved from collectivist solutions and social insurance to
"welfare". "Welfare" seems to require the recipients to be regularly
beaten with sticks...
Clive
Opportunity comes into it as well.
People on benefit will presumably only have the benefit amount to fiddle
(except those running serious crime groups). A few hundred pounds at best a
week for most individuals.
Those fiddling the VAT will presumably only be those in a position to fiddle
it, not usually the same people as are fiddling benefit perhaps. And VAT can
be far, far more a year than benefit.

Martin <><
 
A

Andy Pandy

Clive Martin said:
Also, given that the total amount of benefit fraud across the whole
spectrum is £2 billion[approx] but VAT fraud is £11 billion [ approx,
2003 figures] are resources being correctly used to investigate the
right offence?
Ah, you do understand the point. Almost all discussion about benefit
fraud is in fact a discussion about political prejudice. Of course the
effort put into stopping other forms of fraud is disproportionately
small and that put into benefit fraud is disproportionately large.
Is that actually true? For instance a lot of effort is put into tackling road
tax evasion, fine evasion, TV licence evasion etc - I've heard adverts on the
radio about all these recently saying what will happen if you're caught. And
none of which are anywhere near the £2 billion level of benefit fraud.
It
is one of the many prices people are asked to pay for having any form of
state benefits system at all. We have moved from collectivist solutions
and social insurance to "welfare". "Welfare" seems to require the
recipients to be regularly beaten with sticks...
From the many stories I've heard, I think I'd far rather be on the receiving end
of a benefits fraud investigation than get on the wrong side of the VAT man.
Perhaps benefit fraud investigators should get similar powers to VAT
inspectors...
 
A

anthonyberet

Kamina said:
Should the investigation of Housing and Council Tax benefit remain
within Local Government or should it be included in the remit of the
Department of Works and Pension's investigation teams?
I don't see much point in giving it to the DWP - unless they take over
all HB/CTB administration. - Otherwise when they investigate anyone they
will have to acquire all the documents and computer data from the LA.
 
C

Clive Martin

Andy Pandy said:
<Kamina wrote>
Also, given that the total amount of benefit fraud across the whole
spectrum is £2 billion[approx] but VAT fraud is £11 billion [ approx,
2003 figures] are resources being correctly used to investigate the
right offence?
Ah, you do understand the point. Almost all discussion about benefit
fraud is in fact a discussion about political prejudice. Of course the
effort put into stopping other forms of fraud is disproportionately
small and that put into benefit fraud is disproportionately large.
Is that actually true? For instance a lot of effort is put into tackling road
tax evasion, fine evasion, TV licence evasion etc - I've heard adverts on the
radio about all these recently saying what will happen if you're caught. And
none of which are anywhere near the £2 billion level of benefit fraud.
I was tempted to reply that my take on the discussion is also based on
my gut prejudices and leave it at that! But I have done a little
digging and I think Kamina's figures are more or less correct and that
my contention is justifiable.

The £2 billion estimate of fraud with another £1 billion attributed to
error can be found at:

http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cm
pubacc/411/41103.htm

I particularly enjoyed the wonderful statement that "Because of
uncertainties in measuring fraud and error, figures are rounded to the
nearest £500 million" ...

The £11 billion VAT estimate (again, with problems about how much is
error and how much is fraud) can be found at:

http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/03-04/0304357es.pdf

I found some Inland Revenue figures at

http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/02-03/0203429es.pdf

which would suggest that the current levels of overall IR tax fraud
(separate from VAT) do well exceed the (rather dubious) £2 billion
benefit fraud figure.
From the many stories I've heard, I think I'd far rather be on the
receiving end
of a benefits fraud investigation than get on the wrong side of the VAT man.
Perhaps benefit fraud investigators should get similar powers to VAT
inspectors...
I have dealt with Inland Revenue Compliance people at a senior level.
Very competent but historically their culture and powers lead them to
be, shall we say, less troubled by procedural niceties than their DWP or
LA counterparts. I can well understand that the VAT men are similar.

Clive
 
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A

Andy Pandy

Clive Martin said:
I was tempted to reply that my take on the discussion is also based on
my gut prejudices and leave it at that! But I have done a little
digging and I think Kamina's figures are more or less correct and that
my contention is justifiable.
I don't dispute those figures, my point was a lot of effort is put into stopping
other forms of fraud which cost *far less* than £2 billion. Road tax evasion and
TV licence evasion *together* cost less than a fifth of that.

http://www.nao.org.uk/pn/01-02/0102821.htm

http://www.dvla.gov.uk/public/press_releases/2003/p_release_1803_12Sep03rep.htm

Yet spy cameras are being set up to detect road tax dodgers:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2304163.stm

And anyone with no TV can expect loads of hassle, including repeat visits from
TV licence inspectors, even where they have no shred of evidence of fraud (just
have a search for usenet threads on this subject).
The £2 billion estimate of fraud with another £1 billion attributed to
error can be found at:

http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cm
pubacc/411/41103.htm

I particularly enjoyed the wonderful statement that "Because of
uncertainties in measuring fraud and error, figures are rounded to the
nearest £500 million" ...

The £11 billion VAT estimate (again, with problems about how much is
error and how much is fraud) can be found at:

http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/03-04/0304357es.pdf

I found some Inland Revenue figures at

http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/02-03/0203429es.pdf

which would suggest that the current levels of overall IR tax fraud
(separate from VAT) do well exceed the (rather dubious) £2 billion
benefit fraud figure.
Yes, and it also states that £428 million was spent on enquiries and
investigations to tackle non-compliance (that's just the IR as was, so doesn't
include VAT). To have a sensible discussion on this issue we'd need figures
detailing how much is spent on investigating each type of fraud, what the
success rate is, what the deterrent effect is, as well as the estimated cost of
each type of fraud.
 

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