So imagine you did two hours a week cash-in-hand work over the 16 hours you’re allowed: and over three months, your fraud amounted to £1,000, since you shouldn’t have been on jobseeker’s allowance at all. That’s what politicians should be asking us to envisage when they set upon this bugbear with their big sticks: people on very low incomes earning a very small amount extra and not declaring it. I am amazed that the figure for fraud is so low. When you consider the incompetence of the DWP and HMRC, you would be mad to declare a small cash-in-hand income to them. You’d probably find yourself not just having your benefits withdrawn, but also on an emergency code, erroneously charged tax that it would take you years to recover.
There is a very important failure of governance here: people are being cheated out of benefits by an incompetent system, they are being threatened for their own mistakes and simultaneously screwed by the DWP, and 200 extra employees are being taken on as “anti-fraud” officers when the first priority of government should be that it has enough staff to get its sums right.