DWP to search and seize homes and make arrests in benefits law change | Personal Finance | Finance

The DWP will be given arrest, search and seizure powers under a new law in a radical planned crackdown on benefits cheats. Proposals to stamp out benefits fraud have been published by the government today, Monday May 13.

Among a raft of strict changes the government is proposing, one key change would see the Department for Work and Pensions given police style powers.

DWP officers would be able to search people’s homes, seize property and arrest people. The government says this would ‘stop appalling crimes against the welfare system and the taxpayer.

The changes will be brought to the next Parliament in a new Fraud Bill. The government’s plans, Fighting Fraud in the Welfare System, set out that benefits fraud will be ‘treated like tax fraud’.

As well as forcing information holders to disclose details about someone who is on benefits, the government says the new law will: “Give DWP investigating officers new powers to make arrests and conduct search and seizures, bringing DWP in line with the approach taken to serious and organised crime across government such as at HMRC and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.

“This will allow DWP to investigate and stop these appalling crimes against the welfare system and the taxpayer itself.

“It would allow DWP to control the end-to-end investigation in the most serious criminal cases, applying for the warrants, leading the operation and searching and seizing evidence.”

The document sets out that the new law is in response to tackling £1.6bn of fraud by 2030, which includes spending £70m on the DWP. It adds that Universal Credit is set to cost £85bn per year by 2030, and the changes will help trim the bill down.

The reforms come weeks after changes to disabled benefits such as PIP were put forwards, which include the possible ending of cash payments and the introduction of voucher schemes or catalogues for disabled people to buy from instead.

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