DWP ‘hiding back-to-work fraud from taxpayers’, claims Margaret Hodge

The Government has come under attack for refusing to publish details of more than 100 investigations into potential fraud in the back-to-work industry, claiming the cases are not in the “public interest”.

Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is “hiding” critical information from the taxpayer about the potential scale of wrongdoing across the sector and called on ministers to release the full details.

Since 2006, there have been 126 cases of potential fraud investigated in the welfare-to-work industry. Just 11 of these relate to crisis-hit A4e.

But after repeated requests for information, the DWP told The Telegraph it would not be disclosing details of the other 115 cases after deciding the “public interest” argument was not strong enough.

Of the total, 46 had a “case to answer” and were branded “non-compliance” or “false representations”, official documents show, suggesting the scale of the problem runs far deeper than A4e, which has faced several allegations about its conduct in recent months.

Figures show just five of the 126 cases are “ongoing”, with the rest “closed”. Mrs Hodge said: “The cases are 100pc in the public interest. More and more of taxpayers’ money is being used to fund private sector companies delivering public sector services.”

The allegations led to A4e founder, Emma Harrison, resigning as chairman in February. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on her part.

Paul Champion

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Twitter: @blogapprentice
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