The Daily Express - How benefit blunders leave the taxpayers with an extra £2bn bill

Thursday, 20 April, 2006

Benefit payment blunders have cost taxpayers more than £2billion under Labour, it was revealed last night.

The astronomical sum has been overpaid to hundreds of thousands of welfare claimants- many of them workshy scroungers- thanks to a catalogue of errors by Whitehall penpushers.

Officials at the Department for Work and Pensions admitted to the daily Express: 'It's our mistake- and we can't get the money back.'

The overpayments we re made in millions of Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance handouts. They would be enough to wipe out the NHS deficit more than twice over.

The cash is on top of the £3 billion cost of benefit fraud every year.

Tory frontbencher David Ruffley, Shadow Minister for Welfare reform, said: 'Ministers are presiding over a quagmire of incompetence that has become a disgraceful burden on taxpayers.'

Mr Ruffley, who obtained the figures in a Parliamentary written answer, added: 'Taxpayers deserve a properly run benefit system that is simpler and fairer. New labour's welfare system isn't working.'

The revelations show more than £200 million is overpaid in Income Support and Jobseekers allowance every year.

In total, a staggering 1.17 billion has been overpaid in Income Support because of official mistakes since 1997. the figure for Jobseeker's Allowance has hit £910 million over the same period.

Mr Ruffley blamed the scandal on meddling in the benefits system by Chancellor Gordon Brown.

'It is not getting taxpayers' money to the people who need it most,' he said.