5bn pounds for fraud and foul-ups

Saturday, 27 May, 2006

FRAUD and cock-ups have cost taxpayers a staggering £ 5.5BILLION, official Government figures showed last night.

Overpayments and benefit fiddles have siphoned off income support, jobseeker's allowance and pension credit worth more than £ 1billion a year.

That would be enough to pay for 36,000 nurses, 30,000 new teachers, 26,000 police officers or 156,000 hip replacement operations.

Tory pensions spokesman David Ruffley said: "Fraud and error at these levels are unacceptable.

"Vulnerable claimants should not have to put up with Government incompetence.

"We need a simpler, fairer benefit system."