Cost of blunders increases by £500m

Errors by officials and customers cost the Department for Work and Pensions £500m more last year than in 2003-4, MPs estimate.

The public accounts committee report states that the department lost £3bn due to benefit fraud and customer and official error, the same as in 2003-4. Then, the losses were £2bn from fraud and £1bn from customer and official error, but these are now broadly equal.

The MPs blamed the increases in official error on recent departmental  restructuring and disruption from new techniques and IT systems.

The report was published as work and pensions secretary David Blunkett said he wanted people to see work as the best route out of welfare and that they should be helped to become self-reliant.

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