PRISONERS were handed almost £1million in bungled benefits payments last year, which should have been stopped as they were behind bars.
Lags coined in cash for pensions, winter fuel benefit, disability allowance and income support despite being held in jail at the taxpayers’ expense.
Some inmates were given employment support allowance – although being caged meant they could not be job-hunting.
The shocking payment blunders were disclosed under Freedom of Information laws by the Department of Work and Pensions.
Our probe revealed that £971,000 was paid to prisoners who were not entitled to the cash last year.
The vast majority of the handouts were paid out due to DWP blunders and amid confusion over what inmates were entitled to claim for.
The bulk of the cash – £780,000 – was handed over in Universal Credit, the controversial new payment where a claimant’s various benefits are all rolled up into one payment.
OAP criminals found they still received a total of £112,000 in pension payments and pension credit while being locked up.
MAJORITY PAID OUT DUE TO DWP BLUNDERS
Another £74,400 was spent paying prisoners employment support allowance.
There was also £1,700 paid out by mistake in winter fuel allowance, £3,300 in Income Support, £7,500 in Disability Living Allowance and £1,200 in Attendance Allowance.
Female lags were handed a total of £1,600 was paid out in Maternity Allowance that should not have been paid.
A person’s entitlement to nearly all benefits stops as soon as they are imprisoned although some inmates may still get help with housing costs if their sentence is less than six months.
Latest figures from the DWP show that around a total of £3.8billion – £73million-per-week – was paid out on the £177billion benefit budget because of mistakes or fraud every year.
TAXPAYERS MONEY IS WASTED
The biggest outlay – of £934 million – was to people who still pocket benefits despite having an income that would reduce their entitlement to handouts.
Another £419million was paid to people who have savings which mean they shouldn’t qualify for benefit and £174 paid incorrectly to people living abroad.
John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Benefit payments should only be given to those who are legally entitled and in need of them.
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“When taxpayers money is mishandled and wasted, it’s not just taxpayers who miss out but also those who are most in need of it. Government bureaucrats need to take better care to implement their own rules.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “We work closely with other government departments to prevent fraud and error, and we recovered more than £1.1billion in overpaid benefits last year.
“And we continue to introduce new technology to improve the prevention, detection and recovery of debt.”
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