Social Justice

Almost no recorded cases of disability benefit fraud despite DWP crackdown: 'PIP fraud is a non-issue'

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has released new statistics showing that fraud in the disability benefits system is a 'non-issue'

dwp pip/ disabled person

Campaigners fear disabled people are being "demonised" by the government. Image: Unsplash

There are almost zero recorded losses to the taxpayer due to fraud in the disability benefit benefits system, new statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show.

Personal independence payment (PIP) fraud stood at 0% in the financial year ending 2024. Meanwhile, disability living allowance (DLA) fraud was just 0.1%, which was rounded to £0m.

It comes as the government continues its drive to tighten disability benefits, eradicate “sick-note culture” and crack down on fraud within the welfare system more widely.

Mikey Erhardt, campaigner at Disability Rights UK said: “New data shows what we, as disabled people, have known for years – PIP fraud is a non-issue. PIP fraud is now the lowest on record – despite the government placing fraud front and centre of their latest public announcements.”

PIP overpayments stood at 0.4%, which is the equivalent of £90m lost in a year. That is compared to 1.1% (£200m) in the financial year ending 2023, a significant decrease.

The majority of overpayments happened because of errors where the claimant did not report a change in their needs. Only one in 100 PIP claimants were overpaid.

For DLA, the overpayment rate was 0.5% or £30m in the financial year ending 2024. Around 0.2% was because of claimant error, mainly because of claimants failing to report that they were admitted to hospital or care homes.

Overpayments due to official errors made by the DWP were 0.2% (£10m), mainly because the department made errors when allocating award levels at assessment stage.

Erhardt added: “If the government is concerned about fraud, it would be serious about the £15.2bn that multinational companies hide from the UK via tax havens. Money which could fund public services that we all need and use. Instead, disabled people continue to be demonised.”

Universal credit fraud is at much higher rates. Overpayments due to fraud were 10.9%, equating to a loss of £5,660m to the taxpayer. That’s compared with 11.4% (£4,930m) in the financial year ending 2023.

Earlier this year, an organised gang was convicted of stealing £54m from the universal credit system by submitting thousands of false claims.

Under-declaration of income remained the most prominent reason for universal credit fraud, followed by a failure to provide evidence or engage with the Jobcentre.

But fraud relating to additional elements besides standard allowance – such as the health elements or carer elements – were just 0.1% in the financial year ending 2024.



The DWP has announced an expansion of its plan to crack down on people it is calling “benefit cheats”. It claims this will save the taxpayer £9bn by 2028, but campaigners fear the government is “sleepwalking into another Horizon scandal“.

There will be a new civil penalty to “punish fraudsters”, partly-automated checks, and £70m invested into “advanced data analytics” which will see machine learning used to detect fraud.

It will also hire 2,500 external agents to tackle fraud and error in the universal credit system.

Mel Stride, the secretary of state for work and pensions, said: “We are scaling up the fight against those stealing from the taxpayer, building on our success in stopping £18bn going into the wrong hands in 2022-23.

“With new legal powers, better data and thousands of additional staff, our comprehensive plan ensures we have the necessary tools to tackle the scourge of benefit fraud.”

The government’s plans will not only crack down on fraud but also error within the benefits system.

This includes tens of thousands of unpaid carers who have been forced to pay back huge sums and have sometimes been prosecuted for fraud – such as in the widely-reported recent case of Vivienne Groom, who had her £16,000 inheritance seized because she did not declare her minimum-wage supermarket job while caring for her mother.

The DWP also makes mistakes. The Big Issue previously spoke to a single mother and universal credit claimant who was falsely accused of a £12,000 debt to the DWP, when she was actually owed money.

She described the impact of being accused of overpayments, saying: “I’m absolutely devastated because it changed everything for me. Getting that letter and thinking that I’d have to pay that back made me very fearful of ever claiming again.”

Big Issue is demanding an end to poverty this general election. Will you sign our open letter to party leaders?

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

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